Fundamentals of Healthcare Writing

Fundamentals of Healthcare Writing

17 May-21 June | Asynchronous (Self-Paced)

Fundamentals of Healthcare Writing is a six week course offered by the Society for Technical Communication (STC). This class is offered as an online, asynchronous class, and have the following learning objectives:

  • Explore the multiple facets of writing in the health care industry.
  • Understand the research and statistics in health and science writing.
  • Identify and validate credible resources.
  • Explore effective techniques, literary devices, and storytelling structure used in health and science writing.
  • Identify and deconstruct the best examples of health and science writing.

Each week we will use the online portal to talk about what we have read, what we have written, and what we have observed through examples of health communication.

Most importantly, we will use this time to develop specific skills that will translate into multiple professional situations. By the time that this class is over, you will be able to critique the validity of resources, and have the skills and confidence needed to write develop materials relevant and needed in health care today. This will be of value to those of you who may write your own materials and those technical communicators who edit materials for publication or presentation.

Throughout the 6 weeks, we will write pieces that translate health and science information to general audiences. This is important for those of you who may already be in the health care industry or those of you who are exploring content marketing, public relations or writing for general audiences. The writing strengths that are demanded in this area – maintaining reader interest and providing understanding of very complex subject matter – will carry over into all of our writing efforts.

Session Descriptions

The terms health writing, healthcare writing, medical writing, and health and science writing are often used  interchangeably;  however, there are some differences that we will expand on throughout this course.

The objective is to become familiar with how peer-reviewed journals are structured, identify the top journals, their process, and how to leverage these critical resources.

  • Literary devices are techniques which writers use to create content that is clear, interesting, relatable, and memorable.
  • We will explore literary devices to enhance your science writing such as metaphor, analogy, onomatopoeia, personification (to name a few).

One important distinction is the difference between finding an interesting topic, versus finding an interesting STORY. When done right, a story is something that DOES rather than something that just is, meaning the story serves a purpose to first attract attention in order to enhance the reader’s knowledge, understanding and consumption of the material. This week we will explore the structure behind compelling and engaging stories, and the science behind why our brains are wired to crave stories.

This module will focus on the various forms, functions and features of writing in health care, including media and press releases, content marketing, social media, blogs and others.

We will explore examples in health and science writing that encapsulate the elements of good writing we learned through the course.

Final assignment due: based on proposal; length should be 10 PowerPoint slides or a paper of 5 pages that describes your focus and how you applied the principles learned in this class.


Laura Jacobs, Director, Marketing and Alignment Strategies at the American Medical Association (AMA) is also an adjunct professor of communications at Rochester Institute of Technology. She is a ​marketing and communications strategist with more than 15 years of health care experience with in-house, agency and nonprofit tenure, specializing in health policy, science and medical education.  She has public relations and corporate communications experience in the non-profit, agency and corporate settings. Laura had a variety of corporate and health care clients while at Ketchum and Weber Shandwick, providing public relations and marketing communications strategic counsel for health care associations, health care systems and providers, and pharmaceutical and medical device companies.  While at Baxter, Laura was Manager, Corporate Communications, and supported Baxter’s global, diversified, fully integrated BioScience business with global communications responsibilities, providing guidance to 20-30 communicators on regulatory issues and program planning for a $6 billion business with more than 10,000 employees.

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