The Role of Medical Editors at Med Communications

Medical information is generated by several types of organizations, including pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology companies, clinical research organizations, universities, health centers, medical publishing companies, and medical education and communication companies. These organizations develop regulatory submission documents, formulary dossiers, peer-reviewed manuscripts, books and book chapters, presentations and posters for medical congresses, educational materials for health care providers and patients, and a variety of other types of communications.

While not all of these medical information providers have medical editors on staff, those that do appreciate the valuable input editors provide. Many of the pharmacists employed by Med Communications who write standard responses, formulary dossiers, and slide decks appreciate the attention to detail, knowledge of company style, and efforts to maintain consistency across brands and documents that our medical editors bring to the process. Our medical editors are also the keepers of our client’s internal style guide, adapting it to meet changing company needs and updating it to stay in line with the American Medical Association’s Manual of Style, the standard in medical writing.

Our medical editors collaborate with each other and with the writers of medical information to develop documents of high quality. They edit standard responses for consistency within the document and with related standard responses, correct formatting issues, make adjustments to tables to make the data easier to read and understand, rearrange words to improve flow and understanding, and fix typos and misspellings. They edit slide decks for consistency in formatting; create or update graphics to convey data in a manner that is visually appealing and easy to read; and correct grammatical issues, typos, and misspellings.

When reviewing formulary dossiers, the editors look for consistency within the document, adherence to the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP) format, and typos and misspellings. In a typical day, the editors also respond to writers’ queries about style, grammar, formatting, and the use of Microsoft® Word and PowerPoint. They often write tips to address these issues, then update the internal style guide accordingly. The editors train new writers on topics related to the client style guide and develop training materials for others to use when introducing the concept of internal style guides to colleagues in other parts of the world.

Medical editors may have degrees in life sciences, social sciences, English, technical communications, or writing. Some organizations require medical editors to be responsible for fact checking the medical content as well as editing. However, our editors are more focused on editing and formatting than on medical content. They have respect for the medical content, though, and strive to work within the constraints of the content and in collaboration with the writers to make the content easy for health care providers to read and understand. While the writing and editing functions are distinct and well defined within the organization, it is the partnership between the writers and editors that fosters the development of quality medical information.

This was originally published as a blog post on the Med Communications website.