September 20, 2019

My Trip to the American Medical Writer’s Conference

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I was recently on the Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas, eating Italian food with two of my clients. We were relaxing after a busy few days at the American Medical Writer’s Association (AMWA) Conference. The food may not have been stellar (we should have endured the wait at Boudros), but meeting my clients for the first time was a real highlight. Carrie is an OB/GYN physician doing writing for pharma, and Christine is a Family Practitioner who is exploring different writing opportunities and blogging. As we shared appetizers, we compared notes on our impressions.

This was Carrie’s second AMWA conference, and both times she has been amazed at everyone’s willingness to share their transition stories. Hearing how others have found their way into medical writing helped open her eyes to all the different career possibilities. She found the presentation on dealing with difficult personality types very valuable (I’m sorry I missed that one!).

Christine was surprised by the sheer number of former healthcare professionals (including MD’s and DO’s), who attended the conference. She said it reinforced the fact that she was not alone. Her favorite presentation was one given by Bliss Mishler, MS, and Amy Rogers, MD, on writing online content for medical practices and hospitals. I very much enjoyed this session as well, and was fortunate to have the chance to chat with Amy afterwards. She practiced for a number of years as an OB/GYN physician and then transitioned into medical writing. She discovered a special talent in blogging and writing online content for healthcare organizations.

One of the liveliest sessions I attended was Speed Networking, where every 5 minutes we rotated to meet a new person and exchange cards and bios. The room was packed to the gills and one could barely hear over the chatter. In less than an hour, I met a bunch of folks, each doing a different kind of writing. I had a great surprise when the bell signaled another rotation, and there in front of me was a doctor whom I had met a year ago at the SEAK Non-Clinical Careers Conference!

Because the field of medical communications/medical writing is very broad, the presentations at the conference ran quite the gamut.

Here is a sampling of some of the offerings:


  • Summarizing Clinical Safety Data for an NDA (new drug application)
  • Essentials of Copyediting
  • Writing and Designing Materials for Patient Education
  • Basic Grammar II and Usage
  • Regulatory Aspects of the Drug Development Process
  • Pharmacokinetics in Clinical Practice and Drug Development

Open Sessions

  • Journal Manuscripts from Soup to Nuts
  • A Primer on the Medical Device Industry for Current and Aspiring Medical Device Writers
  • It’s Not You It’s Me: Dealing with Critique and Criticism
  • Basics of Content Writing for Medical Practices and Hospitals
  • Grant Writing Careers: A New Frontier for Medical Writers
  • Unlock the Secrets to Freelance Success

Round Table Discussions (with breakfast or lunch)

  • Medical Writing for the Orthopedic Device Industry
  • Transitioning into Medical Writing for Diverse Professionals
  • Trends and Transformation in CME: Implications for Medical Writers
  • So You Want to Do a Webinar
  • The Process of Job-Hunting
  • Onboarding a New Medical Writer: Best Practices

If you’re wondering if YOU could be a medical writer, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I enjoy the process of writing on medical and health topics?
  2. Am I good with details, deadlines, and follow-through?
  3. Am I willing to put in the time and effort to gain experience and skills?

If you answered “YES!” to all three questions, you could have a future in medical writing.

To find out more, you can visit the AMWA website for additional information on medical writing, courses, certificate programs, etc. The next AMWA Annual Conference will be October 6-8, 2016 in Denver CO.



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