The 6-week course covers everything you need to know to start your freelance medical writing business. The course is directed towards people with writing ability, English fluency, and a PhD, MD, or other advanced degree in a science. Please sign up here to access free content associated with the 6-week course.

The next 6 week course, “Everything You Need to Know to Start Your Freelance Medical Writing Business” will start January 15th, 2018. Registration opens noon edt on Monday, January 8th, 2018, until noon edt on Saturday, January 13th, 2018. Please aim to get the precourse assessment  done if you might at some point be interested. This is required for entry to the course. You will hear back about whether or not you have been accepted into the course in time for you to register.

What does the course include?

Online modules about the following:

Week 1—Prerequisite Skills and First Steps

  • Mistakes Medical Writers Should Avoid
  • Medical Writing Style
  • A Checklist for Pieces You Really Care About
  • Preview of the AMA online Manual of Style
  • Potential Medical Writing Markets
  • How to Get Your First Freelance Medical Writing Clients

Week 2—Setting Up Shop

  • Rules of Website Design for the Freelance Medical Writer
  • Useful Software and Equipment for Medical Writers
  • Checklist of Questions to Ask Clients When Taking on a New Project
  • When to (And When Not to) Network and Help Others 101
  • Freelance Integrity–Meeting Deadlines, Plagiarism, and Other Issues
  • Part-time Clinician/Part-time Writer
  • Getting into Regulatory Medical Writing

Week 3—Writing the Medical News

  • Scope of Medical News Writing
  • Interview With the Director of Medscape’s Medical News
  • How to Write the Medical News
  • Review of a couple of news pieces
  • Interviewing Tips and Techniques for News Writers
  • How to Get Medical News Writing Work
  • Covering Medical Conferences

Week 4—Writing CME and CPD

  • Understanding Fair Balance
  • Getting the “Ghoul” out of “Ghostwriting”
  • Writing Needs Assessments
  • Needs Assessment Checklist
  • Needs Assessment Examples

Week 5—Feature Article Writing

  • Scope of Feature Article Writing
  • How to Get Feature Article Writing Work
  • How to Write Feature Articles
  • Interviewing Tips and Techniques When Writing Feature Articles
  • Emma goes over a couple of feature articles that she recently wrote

Week 6—Running Your Freelance Medical Writing Business

  • Positioning Yourself
  • New Business Trends
  • Negotiating and Collecting Your Pay
  • Contracts 101 for Freelance Medical Writers
  • Invoicing Your Clients
  • Organizational Tips for Freelance Medical Writers
  • A Few Apps to Improve Productivity
  • When to Break Up With a Client
  • Freelance Customer Service

BONUS Content

  • Several examples of different types of medical writing, including features articles, needs assessments, and news articles
  • Contract and NDA examples
  • More stuff as requested and as Emma thinks of it….

Weekly Facebook live webinars during the course

One-on-one calls with Dr. Nichols to discuss your particular career path and goals.
Written and detailed feedback on your samples.

***Due to constraints on Dr. Nichols’ time, sign ups to the premium level will be limited, so please stay tuned so that you don’t miss this opportunity.***

The course will be available in 2 levels, basic and premium. Please see pricing page for more details.

Who should apply?

The course is directed towards the following

  • A PhD in a science (or within a year of obtaining that degree)
  • An MD or other professional medical degree
  • A PharmD
  • A nursing or allied health professional degree (RN, PA, etc.)

The ideal participant will not only have a science/medical background but they will also perceive themselves to have some innate writing ability and a service-oriented personality (required for successful freelancing). Plus they are ready and willing to start up their own business soon. The “ideal” candidate is a native English speaker (or you cannot tell that they are not), about to finish their graduate school PhD training in a science or recently earned some type of advanced science degree, and is looking to go straight into freelance medical writing.

Take this free pre-course assessment if you’d like to know if the premium course is a good fit for you.

What is the premium course like?

The premium course is structured so that it can fit around your schedule, but in order to get the most out of the course, you will want to be able to dedicate at least 10-15 hours a week to reading, learning, and working on projects. There are no obligatory online meeting times or schedules to deal with. Calls with Emma are scheduled at your convenience. The time requirements are completely flexible. That said, if you are in the very last stretch of finishing up your PhD, or you have a demanding full time job where you can’t check emails during the day, or you have major family demands, you might want to postpone taking the course until you have more time available.

How often is the course given?

It varies depending on several factors. Since 2011, have been opening the course about 3 times a year.

What types of projects will I be able to work on in the premium course?

The opportunity to work on projects is not guaranteed, and will be based on any writing samples turned in as well as your background in science (our company, Nascent Medical, typically works only with writers with an advanced degree in a science). You will initially work on smaller writing projects (eg, news pieces) and if that goes well and you make yourself available, then you will have the opportunity to work on larger projects such as needs assessments, slide sets, and whatever else comes up. Some of these are for pay and some are not. You will not be required or expected to work on any project for free. It will always be optional.

One big benefit of this course is that it can help you determine whether or not you enjoy medical writing and/or have the necessary skill set before you give up your day job and go freelance.

After the 6 weeks is up, IF your work is of high quality, and you are reliable, and we have a need for writing help, then you will be added to the Nascent Medical list of subcontractors. At that time you would be under no obligation to keep working with us, but several people who have gone through the course continue work on projects for us as they also work on developing their own client base.

Here’s a response Emma sent recently to someone who asked the question, “what are my chances of getting work as a subcontractor with your company after the 6 week course?”

Regarding the possibility of work after the course, I would say that most people who finish up the course have the opportunity for paying work. It all really depends on the individual. People usually fall into 3 categories. 1) There are the superstars. One writer in the last 6-week course is really amazing, is always available for projects, and does a great job. We wrote her a check for $18,000 for her last month’s invoice. That’s really high, but she earned it through massive hard work and excellence. 2) there are the “good” writers. They end up on the subcontractor list, but we still need to see how they do on certain projects before we can rely on them for more complex projects. Usually they’ve put in some effort into the course and have turned in several samples. The more samples of good writing a participant submits, the more likely we can give them work. Then there’s a third category where for whatever reason the writer didn’t seem to be putting as much time into turning in samples for review, and the writing they turned in didn’t seem like their best effort or they simply didn’t have the ability. In that setting, unfortunately, I can’t see trusting paying work from my clients on them. The breakdown of categories 1, 2, and 3 is usually 20%/60%/20%.  However, even the bottom 20% do seem to benefit from the course and do go on and get their own clients, so that’s a great thing. Some of the participants get snapped up by other companies and don’t have time to do work for us either. That’s really the goal, not for us to become anyone’s main client, but for the writer set up shop to go out and get many of their own clients.

Why should I take your premium 6-week course rather than the AMWA certificate?

This is a copy of my response to someone’s email asking this very good question. I myself have earned the AMWA writing and freelance educational certificate.

First, I would say it’s valuable to earn the certificate because it shows to other members of the profession that you are dedicated to expanding your knowledge of the field. However, when you are done adding up the costs of taking courses, traveling, time lost from work, and paying to attend the AMWA conference–which you have to attend because not all required courses are online as of this writing, earning the AMWA certificate actually costs much more than the 6-week course.

I would also say that the information that I learned while attaining the AMWA certificate could have been gleaned from reading and studying a few select books on the topics covered in the courses, for a cost of less than $200 in the price of the books. While some homework is required for the AMWA certificate courses, no mentoring or detailed feedback on samples is given.

Finally, I do not believe that I have ever been given any freelance work due to the fact that I have the AMWA certificate listed on my resume (a much more useful certification is the BELS certificate. This actually requires passing a rigorous editing test and requires experience in the field, and many employers and potential clients in the field know that). Also, for about $5000, you can get a medical writing certificate from the University of Chicago — completely online. I think that looks prestigious on a resume.

Now, my course does NOT teach advanced writing skills (which can be learned elsewhere). What my course does provide is some insight into medical writing mechanics, the scope of medical writing, and mostly info about starting a freelance medical writing business. In addition, I don’t guarantee paying work opportunities to those accepted into the course, but many people in the premium level have received paying work during the course, sometimes (often) in an amount that more than covers the cost of the course. In addition, several 6-week “graduates” have received ongoing work from Nascent Medical after the course is over, and they have gone on to earn thousands through my company. Participants are encouraged also to take on additional clients while working for my company.

So, the best thing about the premium course is that it is more of an internship than a course for most people and can really help garner the prerequisite background and ability get started as a freelance medical writer. I would say that this attribute–feedback on writing and potential for real word experience–sets the 6-week course apart from any of the above mentioned programs and certificates.


What if I just want you to answer a few questions without me having to sign up for the course?

The number of emails I get is rather large, and I regret that I cannot answer questions for people who are not current of former participants in my course. Please do consider joining though.

Should I take this course if I want to be a staff medical writer rather than a freelancer?

This 6-week course is directed towards highly qualified individuals who want to start their own freelance medical writing business. Materials are written from that perspective. You are welcome to apply if you want to work as a staff medical writer, but some of the materials might not be relevant.

Can I take this course if I am already a working freelance medical writer?

If you have been working as a freelance medical writer for more than a few months, this course may not be for you. The course is specifically geared towards people who are starting up their freelance business.

Why do you not teach regulatory writing?

I do not specialize in regulatory writing, although Nascent Medical now offers this type of writing. We may have some regulatory writing components added in the future. I do provide info on how to find out more about regulatory writing, but that is the extent of the coverage of regulatory writing in the current 6-week course. You can visit the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society site for more info on regulatory writing.

How many people are in each course?

Usually 10-20

When is the next course?

The 6-week course opens 2-3 times a year. Please sign up for updates. Registration opens noon edt on Monday, January 8th, 2018, until noon edt on Saturday, January 13th, 2018. Registration is now closed.

If you have read all of this AND your question has not been answered, please email