Grow Your Business by Learning to Write CME Needs Assessments

By Donald Harting posted 10-04-2018 14:24


Continuing medical education (CME) writers may be a minority membership category within AMWA, but hey, our gig is still pretty sweet. Where else can you earn money while learning about state-of-the-art drugs for scary diseases, telling stories about cool medical breakthroughs, and interacting with brainy thought leaders across multiple specialties?

If you’re a freelance writer who has been thinking about entering the CME market, now could be a good time. As you can see from the chart above, commercial support is growing briskly. And, since every accredited CME program must begin with a needs assessment, learning how to write these basic documents would be a great way to break in.

During AMWA’s annual conference in Washington DC, I will be co-presenting a poster with lots of nitty-gritty details about the process of writing CME needs assessments. My distinguished co-presenter is Andrew Bowser, ELS, CHCP, president of iconCME in Narberth, Pennsylvania. Together we’ve assembled four large columns of survey data about sources of evidence, charts and graphs, pricing, word length, reference lists, use of direct quotations, and lead times. These are the bread-and-butter issues that make the world go 'round for professional medical writers, so be sure to come visit with us at 10:30 AM on Thursday, November 1 and again at 3:30 PM on Friday, November 2.

C U in D C (!)




11-05-2018 10:14


We appreciate everyone who dropped by our poster session at AMWA, where Andrew Bowser and I displayed results from our 2017 survey of best practices for writing CME needs assessments. Afterward, 32 people signed up to receive a copy of the poster PDF via email, and we were delighted to see such strong evidence of interest in this topic. AMWA's Engage blogging software will not let me attach a PDF to this post, but if you would like me to send the poster PDF to you via email, just drop me a note at harting (at)

10-26-2018 15:10


Many thanks to those who took our annual CME writers' survey. We are pleased with the sample size (N=104) and are also quite interested in your answers to all 10 questions. Probably the most interesting reading is the litany of literary misdemeanors that accumulated when respondents told us about unprofessional practices they've noticed in needs assessments written by others. Raw survey results will be going out soon to everyone who beat the October 19 deadline. We'll also be displaying the analyzed results, in poster form, at the Alliance meeting at National Harbor, Maryland, in January of 2019. If you would like a brief synopsis for your AMWA chapter newsletter, drop me a line: don (at)

10-05-2018 09:42

5th Annual Best Practices Survey

If you already have experience writing CME needs assessments, please take our annual survey! Everyone who takes this survey receives the raw results. Analyzed results are presented at professional meetings, including AMWA. Here is the link:

Survey closes Friday, October 19.

10-04-2018 17:50

CME Writers' Dinner
7 PM Wednesday, October 31
City Tap House
901 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
(next to the AMWA conference hotel)
Dutch treat. All levels of experience are welcome.
Organizers: Don Harting and Andrew Bowser
Contact Don ( to reserve a seat.