Are you taking advantage of the growth in CME?

All of us are trying to smooth out the ebbs and flows that can come with freelancing. Why not focus on an industry where there is a ton of growth and the work is cyclical?

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

I’ve always enjoyed mentoring and talking with people. If someone just starting out or getting ready to graduate reaches out to me about freelance medical writing, I do my best to fit in a short phone call to answer some of their questions.

One time while on a call, a discussion came up about the different types of writing and projects that are considered “lucrative” to explore. When I suggested CME work, this person (who had not yet transitioned from his corporate position to freelancing) said to me, “I always thought there wasn’t any money in CME work.”

If you’re a freelance medical writer (or hoping to be one), and you’re looking for consistent work that has the potential to pay well, CME deserves your attention. Like, right now.

CME is a massive and growing industry

CME (continuing medical education) is a massive industry. According to the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) annual report, accredited CME providers reported nearly $2.7 billion in investment in educational platforms in 2017 alone. The 1,800 accredited CME providers created 163,000 activities for their learners. And this field is growing.

In the past decade, the number of CME interactions with all clinicians grew more than 50%. In that same time period, CME interactions with participants other than physicians, such as nurses, physicians assistants, and pharmacists, grew more than 90%.

So what do all of these numbers mean? Well, these numbers represent a HUGE opportunity for medical writers. If you’re not already taking advantage of CME work, then you really should consider getting on board. There is plenty of work to go around.

Advantages of CME work

Right now, CME projects make up more than 50% of my total workload. It’s been a good fit for me for a number of reasons, so I thought that I would outline a few of them here.

  • The cyclical nature of CME. From needs assessments to program development to outcomes reports and back again, there is a critical need for medical writers. If things go well with a client, you could have the opportunity to play a role in each step, cutting down the need to constantly market your services.  

  • The variety of topics. I have written about nearly everything under the sun - heart failure, type 2 diabetes, COPD, HPV, ankylosing spondylitis, and many other topics. Having the ability to write about so many different conditions can be very attractive to clients.

  • The potential to do really meaningful work. Any program that you work on has the potential to reach thousands of learners (clinicians). They, in turn, will hopefully change their practice behaviors, leading to better care for patients. That is a win for everybody.

Who is a good fit for CME?

You might be thinking, this all sounds fine and dandy, but is it really a good fit for me if my background is in [insert previous work experience here]? The answer is yes. I think nearly anyone can be a good fit for CME, as long as you have a passion to provide cutting-edge information to clinicians that is designed to improve patient care.

If you have a background in:

  • Science/academia - You should feel right at home diving into the literature and pulling out the most relevant information from clinical trials and other published reports. Your superpower is compiling that information in a cohesive way.

  • Medicine - You’ll be able to use your clinical experience when creating case-based scenarios and overall be able to approach programs with a clinical mindset. Admittedly, this is still something that I struggle with from time to time.

  • Education - A big component of CME work is addressing learning objectives appropriately and making sure that the content can be digested clearly. There is a fine balance between not enough information and too much information for the learner.

[As an aside - if you’re stuck in a non-tenure track teaching position, and you want to make a change in your career, then you should definitely consider medical writing. Quite frankly, I’m appalled by the stories of low-paying adjunct positions that are being offered these days. If you have an advanced degree, you deserve better.]

Stay tuned -  next week I’ll take a dive into the world of needs assessments, which are sometimes (unfairly) characterized as the outcasts or low-hanging fruit of medical writing. I’ll let you know why I don’t think that’s the case.

Lately, so many of you have expressed interest in learning more about CME and writing needs assessments. Because of this interest, I’m developing a new course, How to Write Needs Assessments Like a Pro: Make your clients happy, write more grants that get funded, and stay in a loop of steady income.

I’m so excited to share my exact process for writing needs assessments, which has helped my clients win hundreds of thousands of dollars in program funding and has helped me stay off of the marketing treadmill.

Just sign up below if you’d like to get on the waitlist for the course. Easy peasy.

Jennifer Gregg