Academia, industry, government, journalism, freelance. As the stories of the five essayists in this feature illustrate, the term "medical (or clinical) writing" covers a diverse and increasingly broad range of job types. Perhaps because of this diversity, each essayist has found that their writing job has opened doors to all kinds of other professional opportunities, including business, biotech, marketing, and designing (as opposed to writing up) clinical trials. As one of them puts it, "The choices are myriad, the pay (generally) good, and the jobs plentiful." Says another: "A first job in clinical writing is an excellent steppingstone."

But how can you tell whether medical writing is the right career for you? Well, you might want to start with Kate DeBruin's essay, in which she poses 10 questions that prospective writers should ask themselves before taking the plunge.

And once you do take the plunge, what will it feel like? Will the water be too cold, too hot, or just right? Theresa Vera left the bench to pursue a career in medical writing just a few months ago. In addition to describing the various subdisciplines of medical writing, Vera's essay offers a fresh and engaging perspective on the pros (many) and cons (rather fewer) of her research-to-writing transition.

Speaking of transitions, John Oldenhof has found that the information and internal contacts he has acquired while fulfilling his duties as a clinical writer for a start-up medical biotech company have propelled his career in a number of fascinating (and unpredictable) directions.

If you're considering a career transition into medical writing, you'll likely want to know more about the kinds of jobs that are available. From his position with a medical communications contractor in the United Kingdom, Mark Hughes helps out by explaining the distinction between regulatory writing and other forms of clinical writing. As a bonus, he also discusses the kinds of skills employers look for in their clinical writing employees.

Along with writing, so goes editing. And although she's not exactly a medical writer, Hilary Dean is heavily involved in the process of disseminating medical information as an editor. Now, far be it for us to tell you how critical an editor's contribution can be. Why not read Dean's essay to get a sense of what her job involves and why she enjoys it so much?

Finally, as with each Next Wave feature, the editorial team has--with the help of the essayists--assembled a list of potentially useful Web resources, both within the Next Wave site and elsewhere on the Web. Like clinical writing itself, these resources run the gamut, from incredibly rich Web sites to simple lists of links. If we've missed sites that you've found helpful in your own investigations of clinical writing careers, then please let us know about them.