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Have you considered writing about health and medicine? As a doctor, you can use your medical knowledge and experience to inform or educate others, or even to express your opinion on health related issues.

Most medical writers aren’t doctors, so if you are a GP with an interest and skill in writing you have an advantage over a writer with an interest in health.

According to GP and medical writer, Dr Justin Coleman, there are plenty of opportunities out there for doctors to contribute pieces of work. He says: “There’s a lot of work out there and people wanting doctors to write it, whether it’s patient information or medical education, or for large organisations like the RACGP or NPS MedicineWise.”

You could even write for GPTQ. We are always looking for interesting content to share with registrars, GP supervisors, medical educators, prevocational doctors and medical students. 

Here are six tips of get started.

1. Be a prolific reader

Good writers are good readers. Read a lot and try to get that first piece published. Don’t underestimate the power of publications. Writing for a professional editor who either accepts or rejects your piece is the first step – submit your work for appraisal and scrutiny by a professional.

2. Broaden your professional writing network

Joining medical markets, such as the not-for-profit Australasian Medical Writers Association (AMWA) gives you the chance to mingle with other people who are full time writers, who know the market and who know what editors are looking for. It also gives you more credibility as a medical writer. 

3. Practice makes perfect

Writing is a skill in which you can generally get better over time, but you need to have a good grasp of grammar, sentence construction and know how to write to your intended audience. Writing for medical professionals is different to writing to the general public. Overall, you need to be able to write succinctly and organise your thoughts well. You may like to start your own blog to hone your writing skills before you submit your work to other publications.

4. Familiarise yourself with the publication

The types of articles that different publications run vary – and you will need to match the style and tone of the publication. Many publications will have editorial guidelines on their websites, and contact details for the editor. Think about the audience you are writing for and tailor your language and messages appropriately. For example, an article for Australian Doctor will be different to one for The Australian.

5. Don’t be afraid of rejection

It happens to the best of us, but not every piece of work you submit will be accepted. It takes time and you learn from each rejection and start fine-tuning each piece of writing and get to know what editors want and cater to their needs. You start slowly, but once you get to a certain point and people know your name, the work will come to you.

6. Enjoy it and be proud of your work

Writing on its own is never going to earn the same amount of money if you were to see patients full time as a clinician. It’s only worth your time if you enjoy it. Be proud of what you have written and proud when it gets published. You are suited to medical writing if have a desire to get your written work out there and have other people appreciate it rather than being motivated purely by the money.