Blogs

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As Lori Alexander wrote in her blog post a couple of weeks ago, the AMWA Award speakers are “the highlight of every AMWA Medical Writing & Communication Conference.” But this is not just because of the information they provide during their Award Address. We can learn so much about their respective areas of expertise if we take the time to research them (and Lori and I have done some of the work for you!). It’s kind of like when you armchair travel to a location before your vacation; you get so much more out of a location that way. And we think the same is true of our Award-winning speakers! Alvarez Award Winner As fellow Executive Committee member ...
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National Pack Rat Day

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By Gail Flores, PhD When I was growing up, we used to receive mail order catalogs that sold “unique gifts and household products.” One product that repeatedly caught my eye was a plaque that read “A cluttered desk is a sign of genius.” My mother refused to buy it for me, and as a 9-year-old without access to a checking account or credit card, I was out of luck. This blog post coincides with National Pack Rat Day , which falls on May 17. By definition (Google, not Taber’s), a pack rat is “a person who saves unnecessary objects or hoards things.” To celebrate National Pack Rat Day, we are directed to dejunk and declutter – a sort of late-Spring cleaning. ...
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Last month’s March for Science took place on Earth Day in over 600 cities worldwide to advocate for the central role that science plays in our lives, from health, safety, and food security to economies, society, and evidence-based policy making. This 1-day march has spawned a movement in which organizations and communities collaborate to improve the relationship between science and society. The March for Science champions scientific discovery and encourages the public to value and invest in science. This mission is vital to ensuring continued federal support for scientific research. About a decade ago, support for federally funded research had reached record ...
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The McGovern and Alvarez Award speakers are the highlight of every AMWA Medical Writing & Communication Conference (aside from the exceptional education, of course). This year, we are especially privileged to have not 1, but 2 McGovern Award winners (and no, that’s not because of a mix up with envelopes). The 2017 McGovern Award recognizes the work of 2 physicians who have spent more than 20 years working to improve the communication of medical evidence to physicians, journalists, policy makers, and the public so they can make wiser decisions.    This year, the award goes to Steven Woloshin, MD, MS, and Lisa M. Schwartz, MD, MS, who are general internists, ...
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By Hope J. Lafferty, AM, ELS, BELS President-Elect When you do things right, people won't be sure that you have done anything at all .                                                                                                                                  - Futurama Let’s face it: editing is a spooky skill. I’ve been editing in one way or another most of my reading life, yet most of the folks that I work with don’t really understand what I do. I hear terms like “wordsmithing” or “make this pretty” or “work your magic”—which cast editing as an occult craft undertaken only by the few, the proud, and the anal-retentive. It’s not ...
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Through the course of their work, most medical writers have heard of HeLa cells, a cell line that has driven medical research for more than 65 years. But how many know the origin of HeLa cells? The fascinating story emerged in 2010 with the publication of Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks . And now, an HBO movie based on the book will air on Saturday, April 22, at 8 PM (Eastern). Henrietta Lacks was an impoverished black woman who was only 31 years old when she died of cervical cancer in 1951. She was treated for the disease at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where a sample of her tumor was taken without her permission. To researchers’ ...
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The Results Are In!

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AMWA leaders are working to fulfill their roles of stewards of the association, guiding AMWA toward a sustainable future by ensuring sound, legal, and financially responsible governance. These principles underlie the recent changes to the Constitution. AMWA’s revised Constitution was submitted to AMWA members for ratification during the first week in February, with ballots to be received by March 6, 2017. On March 16, 2017, AMWA staff along with a local AMWA member serving as a witness completed the ballot-counting process. All envelopes received at headquarters by March 6, 2017, were counted. Ballots received after that date were not counted. Each ballot ...
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Twitter to the Rescue

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Cynthia L. Kryder, MS AMWA Journal Social Media Section Editor Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine writing a headline such as this one for an AMWA Journal blog post, but there it is. I first wrote about Twitter in the June, 2009, issue of the AMWA Journal. At the time, Twitter was taking the world by storm and hundreds of people were joining the platform on a daily basis. Back then, Iand many other colleaguesneeded to be convinced of its relevance for medical communicators. Weve come a long way, baby. Twitter has evolved from what some considered a social-media diversion to a tool that two AMWA members used to support a virtual presenter during a ...
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Red Letter Days

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As medical writers, we all edit. Even if editor isnt in your job title, you edit at least your own work. And if youre anything like me, you edit all the timemenus, school memos, commercial vehicles, billboards, and, sometimes, even your friends messages. We wordsmiths have lots to celebrate this week, with National Grammar Day on Saturday, March 4, and National Proofreading Day on Wednesday, March 8. Two holidays for grammar geeks within 1 week! National Grammar Day was established in 2008 by Martha Brockenbrough, founder of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar . National Proofreading Day was created 3 years later by Judy Beaver, a corporate trainer, ...
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Welcome to the second in our series of AMWA Journal blogs! I will be taking advantage of this medium to bring information to you in between our quarterly issues of the Journal, to continue to communicate content of interest to our members while expanding the Journals communications footprint. This months blog introduces you to one of our sister organizationsISMPP. I hope you enjoy the blog, and I welcome your feedback! ~Jim ISMPPA Global Society for All Medical Publication Professionals By Al Weigel, ISMPP President and CEO The International Society for Medical Publication Professionals, or ISMPP, is a broad-based global society that welcomes ...
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Happy Valentines Day, Medical Writing* How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee for the depth and breadth of grammar knowledge My mind can hold, often in deep recesses, And for the lofty goal of perfection. I love thee to the level of precision Most needed and called for always. I love thee freely, as my chosen profession. I love thee purely, words put to the page. I love thee with a passion for work That has consumed me for 30 years plus. I love thee even on days when the words flow slowly And I seem to have lost all faith. Yet I continue Through smiles, tears, and sometimes thoughts of escape But medical ...
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One of the many challenges of operating a nonprofit association is staying up to date with the many state and federal laws that regulate how nonprofits must operate. In 2016, the AMWA Board of Directors became aware of the need to update AMWAs governance documents and structure to comply with new legal requirements and governance best practices that have been instituted over the past 15 years. As a first step in modernizing AMWAs governance structure and governing documents, the AMWA Constitution was updated, and the update was approved by AMWAs Board of Directors in October 2016. Now AMWAs voting members must approve the new Constitution. Why is AMWA updating ...
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I hung up the phone after another lengthy, laugh-filled conversation with my best friend, Frank. My sisterwho was visiting at the timecommented, Ive always thought that was wonderful about you two. . . no matter how long its been since you last talked, you always just pick right up where you left off. Thats the sign of a true friendship. What a nice comment! And so it is with AMWA. Since joining in 1995, my involvement in the association has waxed and waned. But Ive always thought it wonderful about the friends Ive made in AMWA . . . no matter how long its been since we last talked, we always seem to just pick right up where we left off! Attending the ...
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Dear Santa

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The holidays are not too far off, and Ive been so busy, I havent written my list to Santa yet. I hope its not too late to ask for some things I know every medical writer could use. My Executive Committee helped me make my list this yearbig thanks to them! So heres what Im thinking aboutSanta, are you listening? Like all writers, I love books. Real books, not e-books; theres just something about having a book in my hand, really turning the pages, and getting a whiff of that wonderful aroma of a new book. Hope Lafferty said I should ask for Carol Fisher Sallers book The Subversive Copy Editor . Ms. Saller spoke at the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences ...
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Feeling Grateful

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With last Thursdays holiday still fresh in my mind, Im reminded of how thankful I am for AMWA. This association has been my professional home for about 17 years now. Over those years, each time I gave more to AMWA, I received even more in return. I am grateful for all the opportunities AMWA has given me to help me do my job better, to network with my colleagues, and to grow as a leader. I am also grateful for the nearly 5,000 colleagues I have in AMWA. Members not only make up AMWA, they make AMWA what it is. One of AMWAs core values is professionalism, and when each of you joined or renewed, you made a pledge to your own professional development, as ...
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