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The AMWA Mid-Atlantic 2023 Annual Chapter Conference

By July 15, 2023No Comments

The AMWA Mid-Atlantic Chapter held its annual chapter conference on March 3, 2023, at the Bethesda Marriott hotel. I truly enjoyed co-chairing the conference with Judith Orvos and am grateful for the unwavering support of the chapter conference committee and Colleen Walacavage, the AMWA-MAC Board President.

After 2 years of virtual learning and pandemic blues, the board at AMWA-MAC decided it was time to use our stockpiled funds for an in-person gathering. And we were spot on! The conference room was packed. Fifty happy registrants mingled over coffee and breakfast, eagerly anticipating a full day of networking and learning!

We gave our attention to Dan Benau, former director and professor of biomedical writing at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia and a veteran regulatory writer, as he delivered the keynote address.

Dan spoke of the not-so-soft skills for medical writers: How to develop a deeper understanding of the audience to better approach peers and supervisors to gain respect and advance at work. A heated debate followed about the appropriate training for medical writers—medical writing certification, masters’ degree in biomedical writing, on-the-job-training, or the “field experience in regulatory writing”? Opinions were divided.

Robin Whitsell, President of Whitsell Innovations, captivated the audience with her highly engaging session on team management. Even better were her thoughts on the importance of having fun at work and making the workplace enjoyable. The talk was loaded with amusing, real-life examples of awkward situations in which medical writers and their managers found themselves. Lots of laughs!

Delivering fast and effective scientific messages sounds like a cliché in medical writing? Graphic design and data visualization are acquired–easily acquired–skills. Returning to the chapter with a highly popular session, our friend Laurie LaRusso shared inexpensive tools that every writer can and should use to enhance their presentations.

We learned about developing the virtual patient scenario, an increasingly important part of continuing education activities, with Allie Armagan, a pharmacist and director of education programs. There was an interesting session by Julianna Mertenn, PharmD, about how to better interpret biomedical literature. Medical writers can truly distinguish themselves if they can identify biases in research, address study limitations, understand impact on clinical practice, and draw appropriate conclusions that ultimately impact patient care. Iris Tam, PharmD, gave an overview of the Academy of Managed Care Dossier and offered considerations for medical writers in this regulatory space.

The conference wrapped up with four great roundtables: tips for new freelancers and topics in continuing education test writing, writing clearly when you know too much, and emotional intelligence. This was an excellent end to an excellent conference, providing essential discussions medical writers and editors at any stage in their carriers.

To our attendees and speakers, we extend our thanks for making this conference a success and for engaging in this fun, educational day. We learn better together! We hope you enjoyed this year’s conference. Can’t wait for next year!

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