Tuesday, April 29, 2008

AMWA’s Annual Conference Student Scholarship

If you are a student, you should apply to this scholarship, which covers:
  • Ground or air transportation to Louisville
  • Lodging for 4 nights at AMWA’s conference hotel
  • Conference registration fee, which also includes 38 educational sessions
  • Complimentary ticket to the awards dinner
  • Fees for as many as 3 core curriculum courses (based on availability)
More information here.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Becoming a Medical Writer 30% Off

Guess what? It's my birthday! Which got me thinking--you always expect to receive gifts on your birthday, but it would be cool if you could also give something.

So, because I'm turning 30 today, I'm going to do something special. Just for today, you can get my best-selling ebook "Becoming a Medical Writer: How to launch a successful career writing about medicine and health" for about $20!

Click here to order today and get a 30% discount off the regular price. The link won't work after Friday, April 25, 2008.

Happy birthday to me and a great weekend to you!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

All India Medical Writers Association (AIMWA)

Good news for all of you doing medical writing in India: a new professional organization is being formed for you. I found out about this through the Medical Writing Network (MWN), and you may be interested in checking out the AIMWA Web site.

This is from Natasha Das at the MWN: "While you are [at the web site], please do fill up the online membership form. Your name will be automatically added to the prospective members database. A representative from AIMWA's membership committee will get back to you."

Monday, April 21, 2008

Improve Your Grant Writing in a Professional Organization

By Katie Krueger (Guest blogger)

Professional organizations play a vital part in the growth of you and your field. They offer regular professional development, networking and a community of people to offer collaboration and support. Most professional organizations are national associations with local chapters. The national association offers benefits such as pertinent publications, a resource-rich website, national conferences, and a code of ethics that guides the profession. However, you will find the most value in the local chapters. Their education opportunities, networking, and support will be more accessible to you and more relevant to your work within the community.

Here are three professional organizations that could benefit your grant writing career.

American Association of Grant Professionals (AAGP)

AAGP is the national professional organization representing the needs and concerns of grant professionals. Members include people who work in education, government, the nonprofit sector or private enterprises. Their mission is to "build and support an international community of grant professionals committed to serving the greater public good by practicing the highest ethical and professional standards." A membership in their organization offers you a subscription to AAGP's electronic newsletter, the AAGP Journal, participation in the membership forum, and reduced conference fees and other benefits.

Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP)

AFP represents nearly 28,000 members in more than 190 chapters throughout the world, working to advance philanthropy through advocacy, research, education and certification programs. Their mission is to "enable(e) people and organizations to practice ethical and effective fundraising. The core activities through which AFP fulfills this mission include education, training, mentoring, research, credentialing and advocacy. The association fosters development and growth of fundraising professionals and promotes high ethical standards in the fundraising profession."

While their focus is not exclusively on grant writing, this organization will help you round out your skills in fundraising, making you a more competitive candidate for advancement in the development profession. If your professional goals include growing beyond grant writing into a Development Director, for example, this is a great way to learn what skills you will need to do so.

National Grants Management Association (NGMA)

NGMA focuses on building the skills necessary to effectively implement grant programs after they have been funded. They help members understand issues ranging from the Federal regulatory environment to grant budgeting and financial management, to cash management, to intellectual property, to ethics and conflict s of interest. Their mission is to "connect professionals in the grants field to improve and unify the grants delivery process by bringing together the professionals involved in this process so that they may learn from each other."

Understanding what it takes to effectively manage a grant program will help you to write proposals with realistic and effective action plans, timelines, objectives, and evaluation methods.

As with any venture, the more you put in, the more you get out. With this in mind, you may want to consider volunteering for a committee or leadership role with in the organization you choose to join. Commit to those opportunities that you are capable of doing well but that will challenge you to grow.

Katie Krueger is the editor of Find Funding Magazine, an online grant writing magazine. Find Funding helps you write better grants and make more money. Article source here.

Friday, April 18, 2008

AMWA Response to JAMA Articles About Medical Writers in Vioxx Case

Sue Hudson, AMWA's president, kindly agreed to share the message below with the readers of this blog (it was originally an email sent to AMWA members):

As many of you have been discussing, the articles in this week’s JAMA about alleged misuse of medical writing resources by Merck in publications about Vioxx garnered a lot of press coverage. As is often the case, the JAMA articles and the associated press coverage tend to blur the distinction between “guest authorship” (putting an author’s name on an article he/she did not help to write) and the unacknowledged use of medical writers (ghostwriting, a term AMWA tries to avoid). A number of people have asked whether AMWA should do something.

Several of us saw this as an opportunity to assert AMWA’s leadership in promoting ethical practices in medical writing. Accordingly, we have submitted letters to the editors of the NY Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Chronicle of Higher Education, all of which carried stories about the JAMA articles. All letters are signed by me as AMWA president.

Key points in all the letters include:

§ While ghostwriting (the undisclosed contribution of a medical writer) is unethical in scientific publications, the use of professional medical writers may be appropriate and ethical.

§ Using their skills in communicating complex data, professional writers help researchers report their findings effectively, making contributions comparable to those of professional statisticians who analyze data or artists who create illustrations.

§ The 5500-member American Medical Writers Association promotes ethical practices in scientific publication, including acknowledgment of medical writers’ roles, adherence to applicable guidelines (eg, authorship rules of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors), and full disclosure of potential conflicts of interest, including financial support.

§ Transparent disclosure of the roles of all contributors avoids ghostwriting and allows readers to evaluate the credibility of research reports.
Thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

AMWA Announces Open Sessions for Annual Conference

Check out the list of 38 open sessions that will be offered in this year's annual conference. It is still a few months away, but it lets you start making plans for Louisville, KY.

P.S. I'm leading the session on Communicating Health Risks.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Essential Tips On Writing An Effective Case Study For A Medical Device

By Alec Alpert (Guest blogger)

Typically, a medical device case study is a 500 to 800-word article on how the device improves the diagnosis or treatment of patients. It can also be a success story of how the device increased productivity, revenues, saved money, improved regulatory compliance or reduced downtime. Essentially, a case study is the end user's testimonial on the benefits of the device.

The structure of a case study for a patient diagnostics, for example, typically includes the following sections:

1. Title

2. Case history

3. Procedure description

4. Discussion

5. Conclusion

The title is the most important part of a case study. It must entice the reader to read further. To do this, it should focus on the benefits of the medical device that are relevant to the target audience. Let's say the case study is about an advanced, high-resolution, 3D color, cardiac CT (Computed Tomography) scanner used in a specific hospital. Let's call the scanner Gektar. And let's say the case study uses a 30-year-old female admitted to the emergency room with severe chest pain. The title could say: "Improved Workflow, Speed and Reliability in Diagnosis of Severe Stenosis with High-Definition GEKTAR CT Scanner." An effective title requires a good understanding of one's target audience and what matters most to them.

The case history section describes the patient's symptoms and diagnostics steps. The female patient in this study was in good condition, but slightly overweight. The physical examination and EKG revealed nothing unusual. Her blood cholesterol was mildly elevated, but she had no history of smoking, drug or alcohol abuse, and was happily married. She had never complained about chest pains before. She was then transferred to the GEKTAR CT scanner to perform non-invasive cardiac CT imaging.

The procedure section describes the procedure performed on the patient and the findings. Let's say her heart rate was 87 beats per minute. The scan parameters automatically adapted to this heart rate and the scan was successfully completed in ten seconds. The 3D evaluation software produced the high-resolution, 3D, color images - the key proprietary features of the GEKTAR CT scanner. Within minutes, the high-resolution images revealed severe, non-calcified stenosis in a segment of the heart's blood vessel. The patient was immediately transferred to the cardiac suite for treatment.

The case study includes images of the area affected by stenosis - what the doctors had actually seen on the CT scanner's monitor. The images would have clear and detailed notes of what they depict.

The discussion section emphasizes the unique benefits of the High Definition GEKTAR CT scanner that allowed the transformation of an uncertain and perhaps initially dubious case into a quick and correct diagnosis with decisive actions that probably saved the woman's life. Not only did the CT scanner produce high-resolution images within seconds, but it was also connected to the hospital's information network, where the interventional cardiologists could see and download the 3D color images in seconds, and study the details of the stenosis.

The conclusion section further endorses the CT scanner by stating that the hospital has been using it for over a year on hundreds of patients, and that it has always produced high quality, 3D color images that dramatically improved the reliability of diagnosis, increased productivity, personnel satisfaction and saved lives. Actual quotations and recommendations from doctors could be inserted in this section, stating how incredibly powerful and helpful the GEKTAR CT scanner had been in defining artery diseases, rather than depending on less effective conventional methods.

Alec Alpert is a business-to-business copywriter specializing in lead-generating white papers, case studies and articles for medical technology. Visit http://www.alecalpert.com to learn how his copy can boost your lead-generation campaign. Article Source here.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Epidemiology and Biostatistics for Medical Writers

Back in February, I said I was developing an online course on epidemiology and biostatistics for medical writers. This took longer than I had initially thought but the course is now up and running.

Here are some of the things you will learn in this course:
  • The relationship between exposures and cases
  • The concepts of prevalence, incidence, and person-time
  • How to identify confounders in medical studies
  • How to understand risks, ratios, and other epidemiological calculations
  • The different types of epidemiological studies
  • How to identify biases in research studies
  • The process of determining causality
  • Research reporting guidelines
  • The types of statistical studies, variables, and methods of sampling
  • How to interpret statistical data
  • The threats to a study's validity
  • How to report and present data

Each module is followed by exercises where you will apply the concepts learned. An instructor will provide feedback on your exercises. Once your assignments are completed and your instructor gets back to you, you will receive a Certificate in the mail.

Check out the course's Web site.

P.S. Remember my Consumer Health Writing Course? I have simplified it and turned it into an online course (instead of mailing out the materials). Hence , the tuition for the course dropped $70 (I also took away some bonuses). That's good news if you were considering this course but could not afford it. You can get a certificate for this course too.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Medical Writing Training

I'm launching a new Web site, MedicalWritingTraining.com, to fill the need of online courses for medical writers. Right now there are only two courses available but I hope to develop more soon.

The plan is to bring on board other medical writing experts who would like to teach online courses through the site. Let me know if there is a special course you would like to see being offered (or one you would like to teach).

Did I mention that I'm offering certificates for those who complete the courses? I'll tell you more about that tomorrow. In the meantime, check out the site and let me know what you think.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Medical Errors and Medical Writing

Medical writers often have to write about or report medical errors, adverse events, and other not-so-nice parts of modern medicine. In my area of expertise, vaccine safety, we usually write about those rare serious adverse reactions after immunizations.

But this has to do with the inherent risk with all drugs (no drug is 100% safe). The story is different when the patient is harmed by a human error--like using the wrong medicine or an overdose. New research suggests that these errors are more common than usually thought.

There is a good review of the article here.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Medical Writing Comedy

Here's an amusing script, Behold the Lord High Medical Writer! from an AMWA member. See what you think.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

AMWA Southwest Medical Communications Conference

June 6, 2008
7:45 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Tulane University Health Sciences Center, School of Medicine
1555 Poydras Street, 22nd Floor
New Orleans, Louisiana

Registration deadline: May 16, 2008

Find out what’s in the future for healthcare in New Orleans while furthering your own education in medical communications at the American Medical Writers Association Southwest Chapter’s Medical Communications Conference on June 6, 2008.

The conference features a plenary lecture by David Hood, Senior Healthcare Policy Analyst of the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana on Reforming Louisiana's Health Care System: Strategies for Change.


* Basic Grammar I (G)
Instructor: Jude Richard, ELS
Thorough knowledge of parts of speech is truly basic to good writing and editing. This workshop, originally part of Basic Grammar & Usage, focuses entirely on parts of speech and their use in the sentence. Types of nouns and pronouns, verb tense, pronouns and case, phrases and clauses (with special emphasis on verbals and on noun, adjective, and adverb clauses), and the types of sentences are some of the primary topics that the workshop covers. Information in this workshop is, in essence, basic to every other AMWA workshop. If you took Basic Grammar & Usage for credit, you can still take this workshop for credit if you need additional grammar review.

* Elements of Medical Terminology (G/SG)
Instructor: Barbara Gastel, MD
This workshop, which will consist mainly of lecture and exercises, is designed primarily for beginning medical writers with little or no biomedical background. Basic roots and resources will be emphasized.

* Statistics for Medical Writers and Editors (G/SG)
Instructor: Susan Bairnsfather
This workshop is designed for participants who have little or no background in statistics. Elementary statistical concepts needed to understand medical and scientific articles will be covered, including types of variables, levels of measurement, summary statistics, estimation and confidence intervals, and Student t test. Emphasis will be placed on understanding statistical presentations and on reporting statistical information—not on calculations or mathematical explanations.

* Advanced Writing (ADV)
Instructor: Marianne Mallia, ELS
Experienced biomedical writers will explore ways in which they can become even better. Participants will discuss the cognitive processes used by advanced writers and a few finer points of style, and they will learn some successful strategies for approaching (and completing) a writing project. For the precourse assignment, participants will begin to analyze the process used in their writing and the effect of writer’s block on that process.

Note that both Elements of Medical Terminology and Statistics for Medical Writers and Editors can be taken for credit towards AMWA’s Core Certificate or the Science Fundamentals Certificate.

Click here for the registration form.