Health care is an important field for technical writing. Modern medicine is extremely techy and quality of user manuals is expected to be high as human lives and well-being depend on it.
Medical Technical Writers
The healthcare industry traditionally employs many technical writers. And it is safe to say that the trend is going to remain positive — medical equipment is constantly improved and updated; plus, let’s not forget about the ginormous pharmaceutical industry that requires instructions for each and every medicine available.
What types of technical documentation are developed for health care? User manuals for software and equipment, education materials, scientific articles, pharmaceutical and regulatory documents, white papers… Technical writers working in this sphere are often called medical technical writers or just medical writers for short. Let’s see what it takes to become one!
Challenges of Medical Writing
Now, since we have found out who creates medical documentation and what needs to be documented in health care, the next logical step would be figuring out the challenges this poses for tech writers who would like to work in this field.
In technical writing, this is always a tricky question. How well do you need to know a topic to be able to explain it to others? It goes without saying that having a degree in medicine or natural sciences would be a great advantage for employment in this sphere, but it is not a requirement. You see, developing technical documents for health care is a heavily regulated procedure. When you learn all the rules, guidelines and standards there’s not so much left to “create”. Most of times content will be pretty generic. This means that many employers hire technical writers for health care without any degree in medicine. A bachelor degree in linguistics, journalism, communications, etc. can be enough.
- Technical Writing Tools
Learning technical writing tools is always crucial for those who are interested in becoming medical technical writers.
Where there’s generic/repetitive content, there’s a possibility for automation. In the case of healthcare documentation, placeholders are very common. Quite often, things like dates, names and such are not available at the time documentation is written, so, a placeholder is created. It can be repeated throughout documentation many times and hunting it down is a truly tedious task.
This is when help authoring tools come to the rescue. In ClickHelp, the placeholder issue can be taken care of by using variables. All you need to do is assign a value to a variable and insert it instead of placeholders. Later on, when you get the actual data, just change the value, and all of your variables will be updated automatically throughout your documentation.
Health care is a priority in our society. And, it is understandable that being a medical writer means learning a lot about standards and regulations. But, at the end of the day, medical technical writing is not that different from any other type of help authoring.
Good luck with your technical writing!
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