Associations for Medical writers

If you are interested in becoming a medical writer, then I’d recommend that you join your local association for medical writers or scientific writers.

Their online listservs, essentially professional chatrooms for medical and scientific writers, provide a source of peers who often offer suggestions on writing, medical subjects, and business opportunities and challenges. The following list includes the most common organizations.

American Medical Writers Association
Annual meeting [4-6 Oct, 2012, Sacromento, CA, USA] has numerous networking opportunities and educational programs on basic and advanced subjects in medical writing.

Local chapters in USA offer networking opportunities, lectures, panel discussions, and one day programs. For example, their Annual Freelance Workshop is usually in April and their Princeton Conference in May. This past April, I presented a roundtable on "10 Tips for setting up an ergonomic Office".

AMWA provides training for certificates in basic skills of medical writing and advanced topics. Self study modules on basic medical writing subjects include English grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, ethics, medical terminology, and statistics.

European Medical Writers Association
Biannual meetings with numerous educational and networking opportunities.

Australasian Medical Writers Association
Annual conference and a professional development program.

National Association of Science Writers
Annual meeting [26-30 Oct., 2012 Research Triangle, NC, USA] with numerous networking opportunities and educational programs. Local chapters also host meetings, arrange tours, and provide service and networking opportunities.

Council of Science Editors
Annual meeting [18-21 May, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA]

Board of Editors in the Life Sciences (BELS)
Certification for Editors in the Life Sciences (ELS). Exams are usually offered in conjunction with a meeting on medical writing.

National AMWA meeting 2011

Workshops, luncheons, award dinner, and breakfast roundtables were well worth the money. I met many medical writers and put a face to the name on the AMWA listserv.

At the icebreaker, sponsors also provided 2 cartoonists who were very busy.

Open sessions and lectures were entertaining as well as thought- provoking.

My favorite: Paul Root Wolpe, Ph.D delivered an excellent keynote address on Medical Ethics.

His subsequent open session with Kevin Fergusen, MD, FACEP on Space Based Research, Ethical Issues, and Informed Consent raised important questions: Effect of no gravity on loss of bone mineral density and strength? Can their bones withstand the forces of gravity upon return from Mars? Since gadgets can be cumbersome and interfere with dexterity, can astronauts be allowed to withdraw from study? If they can't because there are so few astronauts, then what prevents this same reasoning from applying to other rare conditions or minute subgroups of patients?

Networking also brought new clients.