Continuing Education for Medical Communicators: the AMWA Conference

Every professional needs to keep up with trends, new information, and best practices in their chosen profession. This is also true for medical communicators, such as medical writers, medical editors, medical information specialists, and anyone else who writes and edits medical content. One way to stay current in the field of medical communication is by attending the American Medical Writers Association annual conference. AMWA’s mission, as stated on their website, is to “promote excellence in medical communication and to provide educational resources in support of that goal.” To accomplish their goal, every year, AMWA hosts a national conference that offers a variety of opportunities to learn about new trends, new information, and best practices in the field. These opportunities include open sessions on a variety of topics, workshops that can lead to related certificates, testing for the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences (BELS) certification, and continuing education sessions during which one can earn credits from organizations such as the International Society for Medical Publication Professionals.

The AMWA conference is an opportunity to learn from experts in the field on topics as broad as writing and editing to as specific as “Developing Publications in Accordance with GPP2 Guidelines” and “Writing a Protocol in Compliance with ICH Guidelines.” There are sessions and workshops for different levels of experience, from the “New to AMWA” session that helps newcomers feel welcome to the organization, to advanced workshops that focus on topics like “Reporting Randomized Trials in Science Journals” and “Understanding Sample Size and Study Power.” Attending workshops can lead to certificates in the following areas of study: Essential Skills, Composition and Publication, Concepts in Science and Medicine, and Regularity and Research.

There are also many opportunities for networking, from impromptu meetings in sessions, to defined networking activities, such as the welcome reception, the award luncheon, and topic-based roundtables. Access to so many peers at one time and in one place makes it easier to find candidates to fill a position, find an answer to a problem, or learn about new software and services from vendors in the exhibit area. There are also sightseeing trips before and after the conference. Some are relevant to medical communications, like the Scientific Tour at St. Jude’s Research Hospital, while others are just for fun, like the trip to Graceland, both of which were offered during the 2014 Annual Conference.

With the AMWA annual conference in Memphis this year, many of our writers and editors took advantage of the opportunity to network, to learn from peers throughout the conference, and to improve their skills. As we continue to learn and grow as medical communicators, we can improve the information and service we provide to our clients.

This was originally published as a blog post on the Med Communications website.