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About the Medical Writing Program

Professional Certificate in Medical Writing

The demand for medical writing professionals is growing significantly.  So, too is the supply of individuals with advanced biomedical and life science degrees looking for careers outside academia.  The UCSD Extension program is designed to provide graduates with the foundational knowledge and skills needed to work as a medical writer in the commercial sector, government agencies and/or academia. The certificate program will equip scientists and others with a strong biomedical and/or life sciences background to write specifically for scientific audiences and build the foundational skills necessary as a proficient medical communicator.

Scientific Medical Writing vs. Non-Scientific Medical Writing

The program is not designed for those intending to communicate scientific information to lay audiences, e.g., science journalism, marketing communications or patient communications. This program is designed to equip scientists and others with a strong biomedical and/or life sciences background to write for scientific audiences in peer-reviewed journals, regulatory documents, medical education materials and/or research grant proposals.


Course Expectations
In order to receive your certificate, you must complete all of the required coursework with a B-/80% or higher.

Before You Enroll
Upon acceptance into the Medical Writing Certificate Program, you must complete the prerequisite courses listed below before enrolling in the first course Introduction to Medical Writing. If you would like to request a waiver of completion for these prerequisite courses, please send your transcripts, CV, and/or resume to Robert Houghtaling at rhoughtaling@ucsd.edu

Key Program Highlights:

  • 100% on-line specialization for those with biomedical and/or life sciences backgrounds;
  • Gain baseline knowledge and skills  to obtain a position as a specilized medical writer
  • ​Four Capstone tracks:  Regulatory Writing, Journal Article and Publication Development, Scientific Grants, or Medical Education Materials (CME)

Program Benefits:

  • Gain practical hands-on training with leading Medical Writing and Editing industry practitioners;
  • Build a foundational knowledge of the role of medical writers and a variety of specific skills sets;
  • The demand for trained writers in healthcare is growing and medical writers’ salaries are more than double the rate of inflation and increase with professional certification;
  • Career offers flexibity and provides six-figure salaries for senior writers;
  • Many medical writers manage their own freelance businesses and it is a attractive well-paying alternative career path for recent PhDs who do not secure a faculty position;
  • Incorporation of new topics, medical concepts and industry best practices; 
  • Learn how to write scientific documents which are well- structured, and presented at right level for the target audience

Developing professionals currently working in the healthcare ecosystem who want to boost their current career or transition into a Medial Writing role.  Accepted applicants will have graduate degrees in biomedical or life sciences, such as biology, chemistry, pharmacy, nursing, nutrition, medicine or public health. Postdocs and those with PhDs are particularly competitive for medical writing positions in the commercial sector and academic settings.

Format: Online

Remote asynchronous format

Estimated Cost: $4,300

Approximate Costs

Duration: 12 - 18 Months

12 months (Accelerated) or 18 months (Traditional Program Track)

Contact
Department
Healthcare & Behavioral Sciences
Phone
858-534-4041
Email
rhoughtaling@ucsd.edu

Courses

Delivery Method
Show Legend
  • Live Online
  • In-Person
  • Online
  • Hybrid
  • Number of courses: 5 core courses and 8 units of electives
  • Total units: 23

Medical Terminology: An Anatomy and Physiology ApproachFPM-40632

Units: 1.50

$295

Using an anatomy and physiology systems approach, this course reviews common terms associated with medical practice, research, and different healthcare settings. The goal: to better prepare individual...

Typically Offered:

Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer

Grammar LabWCWP-40234

Units: 3.00

$595

Grammar Lab (WCWP-40234)10 Weeks | $595 | OnlineThis ten-week online Grammar Lab course is skillfully designed to meet the needs of all students. It is beneficial for those with little grammar experie...

Clinical Trials and Regulatory Writing PrimerFPM-40672

Units: 1.00

$295

This course introduces the components of effective clinical trial design, and the basic phases, and purposes of pharmacological and clinical development. Gain foundational knowledge of the overall cl...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Winter, Summer

CT: Practical Clinical Statistics for the Non-StatisticianFPM-40233

Units: 2.00

$475

This course presents the statistics essentials for the non-statistician involved in clinical trials. Topics include study designs, hypothesis testing, sample size calculations, assumptions, controls, ...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer

Introduction to Medical Writing and EditingFPM-40654

Units: 1.00

$325

This course is intended for people who are considering a career in medical communication and is designed to introduce students to the profession of medical writing and editing, including the knowledge...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Winter, Summer

The Spectrum of Medical Writing and EditingFPM-40653

Units: 3.00

$495

Building upon the Introduction to Medcial Writing and Editing course, this course reinforces the basics of writing and editing scientific and medical materials, and provides an overview of the careers...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Fall, Spring

Applied Medical Writing and EditingFPM-40652

Units: 3.00

$550

This course builds on the knowledge gained in the Spectrum of Medical Writing course and introduces the student to some of the more complex topics in writing and editing scientific and medical materia...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Winter, Summer

Ethics for Medical WritersFPM-40609

Units: 2.00

$450

This course covers the basic principles of medical ethics (autonomy, beneficence and justice) as they apply to the delivery of healthcare and to human subjects research, from a medical writing perspec...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Winter, Summer

Designing Figures, Tables, & GraphsFPM-40608

Units: 2.00

$450

This course focuses on how to construct effective, accurate and attractive figures, tables and graphs. Course content includes basic statistics, principles of the visual display of quantitative inform...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Winter, Summer

Communicating Real World Evidence; Medical Writer Professional DevelopmentFPM-40658

Units: 2.00

$425

This course examines real world evidence (RWE), and the role of the professional medical writer in this rapidly expanding area of evidence generation. Learn the basics of RWE, and how and why these s...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Fall, Spring

Citations and Reference Methods for Medical WritingFPM-40660

Units: 1.00

$300-$325

This course covers the current tools and resources that should be used by medical writers to properly cite courses. Medical writers must be able to cite their work and correct the citations of others....

Typically Offered:

Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer

CT: Medical Writing: Protocols, Reports, Summaries, and SubmissionsFPM-40188

Units: 2.00

$475

No clinical trial can begin until a protocol has been written, and no clinical trial is complete until the final report is assembled, signed, and submitted to the FDA. Good documentation for clinical ...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Fall, Spring

CT: Drug Development ProcessFPM-40173

Units: 3.00

$595

This keystone course examines the drug development process and history of clinical trials. Topics include sources of new drugs devices; the process of discovery; how a discovery becomes a drug or de...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer

CT: Understanding OncologyFPM-40493

Units: 3.00

$595

Concepts of cancer treatment and management will be communicated to the student through a series of web-based sessions, with a sharp focus on the terminology, pathology, diagnostics, disease managemen...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer

Health Economics and Outcomes Research (HEOR)FPM-40659

Units: 3.00

$495

This new course covers the foundations Health Economics Outcomes Research (HEOR) and demonstrates why this growing field provides important information for making healthcare coverage and access decisi...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Fall, Spring

Capstone: Journal Article and Publication DevelopmentFPM-40630

Units: 4.00

$995

This course will benefit students who are seeking to write and publish an article in a peer-reviewed journal. Using knowledge acquired throughout the medical writing program, students in this capston...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Fall, Spring

Capstone: Medical Education MaterialsFPM-40627

Units: 4.00

$995

Medical writers play a vital role in creating continuing medical education (CME) materials that help physicians and other health care providers remain current in the knowledge and skills needed to pro...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Fall, Spring

Capstone: Regulatory WritingFPM-40628

Units: 4.00

$995

Regulatory Writing is as much about knowing the regulations and guidance that govern regulatory submissions as it is about the building the intelligence, knowledge, relationships, and know-how in beco...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Fall, Spring

Capstone: Scientific GrantsFPM-40629

Units: 4.00

$995

Competition for funding for scientific projects is becoming increasingly difficult. Further, many researchers and scientists lack the ability to package their projects in a way that is clear and comp...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Fall, Spring

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Conditions for Admission

Successful applicants must have relevant educational background, and native-level fluency in English with the demonstrated ability to write clear, logical, and grammatically correct sentences as evidenced by the application, official transcripts and writing samples. Accepted applicants will have degrees in biomedical or life sciences, such as biology, chemistry, pharmacy, nursing, nutrition, or public health. It is anticipated that many will have advanced degrees, including PhDs. Candidates with PhDs are particularly competitive for medical writing positions in the commercial sector and academic settings.


Upon acceptance into the Medical Writing Certificate Program, you must complete the prerequisite courses listed below before enrolling in the first course Introduction to Medical Writing and Editing. If you would like to request a waiver of completion for these prerequisite courses, please send your transcripts, CV, or resume to:

Robert Houghtaling
Program Manager
UC San Diego Extension 
Department of Healthcare Research and Policy
rhoughtaling@ucsd.edu

Certificate Guidelines

All students must either take the following two courses or have taken appropriate equivalents within the past five years, earning a grade of B- or better:

  • Medical Terminology FPM-40172, 1 unit online
  • Practical Clinical Statistics for the Non-Statistician FPM-40233, 2 units online
  • ​​Grammar Lab WCWP-40234, 3 units online
​Prerequisites can be waived for individuals whose work experience demonstrates foundational knowledge of these subjects. Applicants seeking this waiver should email their CV to Robert Houghtaling at rhoughtaling@ucsd.edu for determination in advance of their application.

Next Steps Experience

Connect your classroom education with real-world experiences through a Next Step Experience course. These specially designed classes allow students to gain hands-on experience by working closely with instructors and/or peers on real-world projects. In the Capstone course, students will apply all previously learned concepts to work through one or more projects in one of the four pre-identified Medical Writing areas.

The purpose of the Capstone is to:

  • Gain hands on experience of researching information, and analyzing, interpreting, and communicating data as would be expected of a Medical Writer. The final project(s) will be submitted for critical review by the advising faculty leader
  • Have a clear sense of the critical behaviors and practical work practices that make the student a better Medical Writer.
  • Identify areas of continued improvement moving forward to hone knowledge and skill in the evolving Medical Writing profession.

To be eligible to take this course, you must have completed all of the other courses in the Medical Writing program with a B-/80% or higher. You must select from one of the four areas of specialization to fulfill this final required component of the certificate.

Capstone: Journal Article and Publication Development (FPM-40630)

Capstone: Medical Education Materials (FPM-40627)

Capstone: Regulatory Writing (FPM-40628)

Capstone: Scientific Grants (FPM-40629)

Advisory Board

Noelle Demas

Medical Writer

Panorama MedWriters Group, Inc.

Lynne Friedmann, APR, Fellow PRSA

Principal

Friedmann Communications

Timothy Mackey, MAS, PhD

Assistant Professor

UC San Diego School of Medicine

Ruth Patterson, PhD

Professor & Director of Cancer Prevention Program

UC San Diego School of Medicine, Moores Cancer Center

Donna Simcoe, MS, MBA, CMPP

Principal

Simcoe Consultants

Gabriele Weinhausen, PhD

Faculty Director, Teaching & Learning Commons

UC San Diego

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This certificate requires an application before taking any courses. There will be a $25 fee to apply to this program. Students will also be required to pay a $95 certificate fee upon enrollment into the program after acceptance. View the complete Certificate Registration and Candidacy Guidelines.