Question: I am a medical doctor and Canadian citizen. I would like to work as a medical writer in the U.S. Would that fall under the category of "Technical Publications Writer"? Also, would a medical degree be sufficient enough to prove that I am qualified for the position given my knowledge of medicine? Would I have to prove that I have writing experience also?
Reply: As most inspectors would expect a Technical Writer TN for a position involving engineering or a related technical field, a TN application for a Medical Writer position would be somewhat atypical. A successful TN for this type of position would require documenting that the position qualifies for a TN as a Technical Writer as as opposed to some other occupational category (e.g. medical researcher), which may or may not qualify for a TN. The application will also need to document that the applicant possesses suitable educational credentials for the Technical Writer occupation.
To determine whether a particular job offer or position falls under the TN visa classification, as the TN regulations are silent on this subject, the first source to turn to is the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH). The new edition of the OOH now has a full article devoted to Technical Writers. Previously, the Technical Writers occupation was included in the broader classification for Writers and Editors.
The OOH does lend support for a Technical Writer TN for a position as a Medical Writer: “The growing reliance on technologically sophisticated products in the home and the workplace and the increasing complexity of medical or scientific information needed for daily living will create many new job opportunities for technical writers.” Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) manual specifically lists a “Medical Writer” as an example of a Technical Writer along with “Specifications Writer” and “Documentation Writer.” The DOL’s Occupational Classification System (OCS) manual also classifies “Medical Writers” under the “A184 Technical Writers” occupational classification.
Under the TN regulations, to qualify for a TN as a Technical Writer, an individual must have a bachelor’s degree or a post-secondary diploma and 3 years experience. As with job duties, the OOH serves as a main source for determining the types of educational credentials for a TN occupational category as the TN regulations are relatively silent on the subject. The OOH states that degrees in “communications, journalism, or English” are preferred. But it adds that “[s]ome technical writing jobs may require both experience and either a degree or knowledge in a specialized field—for example, engineering, medicine, or one of the sciences.”