What is a Health Editor?

Vicki Hogue-Davies

A health editor is an editor who specializes in health topics. Health editors work for print and online health-related consumer publications and general interest magazines that cover health subjects. Health editors also work for medical and scientific journals editing the research writings of doctors and scientists.

A health editor might be a regular employee or a freelancer, depending on the publication and its size.
A health editor might be a regular employee or a freelancer, depending on the publication and its size.

Like other magazine editors, health editors for magazines develop story calendars, assign articles to writers, edit articles and perform other standard editorial duties. Some health magazines and publications might have multiple health editors who specialize in different health-related subjects, such as nutrition, holistic medicine, diseases or other topics. General-interest publications that run health-related stories might have just one health editor who has editorial responsibility for all health topics. In many cases, though, general interest consumer magazines, especially smaller ones, don't have specific editors dedicated to health-related topics.

Health editors work at health-related and general interest magazines.
Health editors work at health-related and general interest magazines.

A health editor for a magazine might be a regular employee or a freelancer, depending on the publication and its size. Sometimes consumer magazines will retain doctors or other medical experts on a freelance basis as health editors. These professionals might have the role of reviewing and editing articles for accuracy, or they might write articles themselves. The specific position and duties of a health editor often depend on the specific magazine.

At scientific and medical journals, health editors turn the research pieces of highly educated scientists into more easily readable prose. Editors in this area often specialize in medical or scientific areas, such as infectious diseases or cancer research, for example. Health editors in scientific arenas might be on the staff at journals, or they might be freelancers.

Educational qualifications for health magazine editors are similar to those of other magazine editors. Health editors often have degrees in journalism, English, mass communications or other fields. Like other editors, they might start out working in entry-level positions such as assistant editors or editorial assistants, then work their way up. A demonstrated interest and aptitude for health topics might gain them jobs as health editors. Sometimes health editors start out as writers with proficiency in health-related topics and later make the jump to health editing.

Health editors working for scientific and medical journals often have advanced degrees in their area of medical or scientific expertise. They combine this educational background with solid language, writing and editing skills. Sometimes they are journalists at heart who are able to understand highly technical and scientific concepts. Editors in the field of journal editing are sometimes called medical editors or scientific editors.

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