I’m Nerissa and I’m a health communications specialist and experienced health and medical writer. I have over 25 years’ experience writing for various industries, and over 13 years’ experience writing health and medical content.
Brands I’ve written for include the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, Macular Disease Foundation Australia, Bupa, Defence Health, Ovarian Cancer Australia, Jean Hailes for Women's Health, and TerryWhiteChemmart Pharmacies.
I work with…
- Global and national peak health organisations
- International institutions
- National brands
- Medical companies
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Health funds
- Corporate wellness companies
- Marketing and digital agencies
- Medium-large sized businesses
- Allied health professionals
- Medical practitioners.
Now I'm ready to help you.
Need my help?
I'm Nerissa Bentley
I'm a health communications specialist and I've helped many health institutions, national brands and medical organisations develop credible, thoroughly-researched, easy-to-understand health content. Now I'm ready to help you.
MY STORY: From word-lover to Australian health writer
A lover of words from way back…
I’ve always loved words. As a child, all I wanted to do was read books and play Scrabble. I was about five or six when I decided I’d like to write for a living.
When it was time to head off to university I enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts and graduated with Majors in Journalism, Communication Studies and Australian Literature. But I didn’t want to enter the cut-throat world that journalism seemed to be. Instead I used my writing and communication skills in a variety of roles at:
- the Cancer Council of Victoria
- a Victorian public hospital
- Melbourne and Monash Universities.
The things I loved to do most were creating publications, writing newsletters, and writing web copy (back before SEO was really a ‘thing’).
When I had my son, I decided to take a break from working. And two and a half years later my daughter came along. Life with a baby and a toddler became extremely busy. But as much as I loved it I was restless, and wanted something a bit more challenging than wrangling two kids into car seats and coordinating nap times with the kinder run.
How I fell stumbled into the health arena
I came across a job ad for a ‘Work-at-Home Writer’. I got the job and started writing health copy for a corporate wellness company. I loved the work, became really good at it, and stayed with them for 3½ years.
During that time I learned a lot about:
- key health concerns facing the Australian population
- how to write for the health and wellness industry
- how to be a great Australian health writer
- how to turn complex medical gobbledygook into digestible health copy
- where and how to research to ensure my copy was credible
- how to read boring scientific studies, which actually aren’t that boring.
When this part-time role was made redundant I was offered a full-time job in the office. But I politely turned it down because I wanted to work and still be there for my kids.
Guess what I did next?
The first, exciting but naive step
Yep! I launched my freelance copywriting business.
In the early days I didn’t even have a website. I didn’t even call myself a copywriter. All I had were a Facebook page and two sets of business cards. (The first run had a typo on them.)
Referrals trickled in slowly from family, friends and friends of friends. But my first breakthrough came when I successfully pitched an article for Fitness Australia. It was my first byline. I was even called a ‘Health Writer’. It was thrilling. I ended up writing a few more articles for them, and slowly began building my health brand portfolio, which included a number of national organisations. But I continued writing for industries outside of the health sector.
A new Australian health writer brand is born
There came a time when I could no longer deny that writing health and medical copy was my true love (at least when it came to creating copy).
But I didn’t want to write just any health copy. It had to be credible and backed up by research. It also had to speak to patients with authority and empathy.
You see, I had experienced first-hand the damage (both physical and emotional) caused by being given incorrect health advice. This incorrect advice that was not grounded in scientific research led me to develop a weight problem, poor metabolism and compromised mental and emotional health. You can read more about my experience in my blog The real reason I have no time for bullsh*t health information. Fortunately, I am now healing from this damage. Unfortunately, incorrect and dangerous health information still does the rounds, and even more alarmingly, is promoted by celebrities, influencers and ‘wellness warriors’.
I wanted to take a different approach. I wanted to write copy that consumers could not only rely on but also understand and use to change their lives for the better. I wanted to create health and medical content that would help and not harm the consumer.
So, I re-branded, and became The Melbourne Health Writer. I studied SEO in depth, built my own website (which began ranking on page 1 of Google), and wrote heaps of health content for small businesses, health institutions and national brands.
While I’m incredibly proud to be crafting useful health messages that speak to end consumers, the piece I am most proud of is Immunotherapy Cancer Treatments: The European Perspective. This was an in-depth piece about immunotherapy drugs, the difficulty Australians have in affording them, and what we can do to increase affordability and access. Having family members affected by cancer, this was incredibly interesting and meaningful to write.
Remembering that patients are people…in a digital age
With digital health now playing a more involved role in health care in Australia, I’m even more excited to write health content that helps patients, their families and their carers navigate what can be an overwhelming and scary journey when dealing with a health condition.
This means ensuring the content is well-researched, draws on evidence-based, best-practice information, and is delivered in a way that supports, educates and empowers consumers.
Digital health, and its ability to electronically connect health providers to manage patient care, has many advantages. However, I believe we’re in danger of forgetting that patients and their families are real people often fearful or concerned about their diagnosis.
I’m committed to ensuring those who need quality healthcare content the most aren’t forgotten amid the excitement to digitalise many health practices.
If you want to deliver credible health care information that will truly help your consumers, get in touch. I think we’d be a great team.
I never planned to have my own business. But after being made redundant I decided to ‘give freelancing a go’. Ten years later, I have a profitable business and a reputation for being a leading health and medical writer. This is my story.
For the first time, I’m skipping towards the end of the year instead of crawling. Find out how I bounced back from burnout and what I’m excited for in 2023.
‘Dumbing down’ is a problematic term. But it’s not as problematic as writing health and medical information that people can’t understand. Find out why ‘dumbing down’ (or simplifying health content, as I like to say) is actually a smart move.
AHPRA: How I saved my client from a large fine, protected his professional reputation and helped launch a TGA investigation
Find out how my diligence in helping one of my clients comply with AHPRA Advertising Legislation was pivotal in preventing him from going to court, saved him 10s of 1000s of dollars, protected his professional reputation and his practitioner registration, AND assisted in launching an investigation by the TGA.
industry-trained and endorsed
I’m a proud member of The Clever Copywriting School (TCCS) – the home of successful copywriters, which means I am constantly honing my skills to bring you the best in copywriting. I’ve written a guest blog on Researching Like a Pro, for TCCS, and been featured on The Morning Kick, where I talked about how to speak directly to your target audience, and The Hot Copy Podcast where I talked all about medical copywriting.
I’m also a member of the Australasian Medical Writers Association, and the Digital MasterChefs.
PLUS, I’m trained in SEO, which means I know how to write copy that pleases Google and humans.
My experience and qualifications
As well as lots of experience as an Australian health writer, I also have relevant formal qualifications.
I hold a Bachelor of Arts from The University of Queensland with majors in Journalism,
Communication Studies, and Australian Literature. (Yes, I love Australian writing!)
I also gained my Certificate IV in Magazine Writing, Editing and Publishing from RMIT University in Melbourne, while working in the industry.
With over 25 years’ experience writing for various industries, I’m a highly experienced writer. Prior to establishing my own business, I spent several years writing health and medical content for a corporate wellness company.
I now specialise in writing health and medical content, primarily for an Australian audience. As well as being an excellent writer, I’m pretty easy to work with. In fact, some people have said my service is exceptional. It must be good, as some clients keep coming back to me.
some fun facts
I prefer coffee over tea, but always drink peppermint tea before heading to bed.
Roger Federer is my favourite tennis player EVER. He is the GOAT. No question. I even wrote a blog post about him.
I can pretty much recite the script of ‘Fawlty Towers’. The episode with Mrs Richards is my favourite.
And did I mention I’m working on my first novel?
To find out more, or follow my journey, click here.