Why medical writing is more Sith than Jedi

Do we need to brush up on the Sith and Jedi codes before we continue? If so, and I can’t believe I’m doing this, I will refer you to this source1 (yes, I’m citing Star Wars lore. What kind of writer am I, again?). Before you ask: no, this post won’t mention the ABPI’s code, so you can read easy.

In a nutshell, if they indeed have nuts in a galaxy far, far away, the Sith are guided by their emotions (in particular, their passion) – while the Jedi do away with easily-swayed ‘feelings’ and opt for inner serenity in their efforts to pursue knowledge.

You can probably see where I’m going with this already. For argument’s sake, let’s take a medical scientist, working in a laboratory to collect data on the efficacy and safety of a new drug for a particular condition. It’s easy to see, here, that feelings should not enter the equation. Data analysis requires the shunning of expectations, hopes, and dreams (and fears) in order to ‘see’ what the results are – devoid of bias and misinterpretation. Hey, would you look at that? Scientists are Jedi!

Bear with me, because it’s about to get dark (literally: we’re heading to the dark side of the force). Do the Sith have a point, when they harp on about the importance of passion and emotion? My job as a medical writer – especially when I’m working on, say, an e-detail aid or promotional slide deck – is to take the cold, hard data and regurgitate (I hate that word – ew) them in a format that matters to patients and healthcare professionals. This brings me to my first point: emotion is essential in medical writing.

It’s no good talking about the data, if you’re talking about it in such a way that will not resonate on an emotional level with the target audience. For example, an X% reduction in some measure of efficacy is great, but what does this mean for the patients? How will it impact their lives? Will it make them ‘feel’ better? Is the statistic relevant for how the person is now able to go about their daily lives? It’s these kinds of questions that remain at the forefront of my thinking when I’m working on materials that aim to communicate the reasons why one particular drug might be a suitable option for a set of patients – at least, on many of the types of materials I work on.

Now, of course, this emotion can’t be allowed to run amok at the expense of the science. For very obvious reasons, we have to make sure that – while we are communicating messages in a way that does encompass considerations about the reader’s emotions – everything we write is as sound as a… well, sound (you know, those bodies of water that exist in many places around the world, but best known – at least to me – in Nordic countries because of that Vikings series on Netflix? No, I’m not citing that). Could this mean that medical writers are more Grey Jedi than Sith, or ‘pure’ Jedi? Maybe – but there’s something else to consider.

We’ve spoken about the importance of ‘emotion’ in writing, but let’s now focus down on the true tenet of Sith-dom: passion. This one’s obvious, really. Need I even write it? Passion is what will set you apart as a truly great writer. It’s a passion for writing, and for communication, that has presumably led you to pursue a career in Med Comms (and so is likely the reason you’re reading this blog post) – and it’s the same passion that will continue to drive your career onwards and upwards. Through passion, you’ll break the chains of what’s possible, achieving victory in all that you do… OK, hold up. Now we’re sounding even more Sith than I’d intended. Just don’t start asking your colleagues if they’ve ever heard the Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise, and I think we’ll be OK.

May the force be with you, always.

And make sure you watch the new Obi-Wan series at the end of this month.

  1. Star Wars: 10 Facts You Didn’t Know About The Gray Jedi Code. Available at: Accessed: April 2022 (let’s be honest, does this even matter?)