Newsletter – November 2011

Jump In!  How to Get Involved in AMWA
by Karen Steinhilber

Whether at the Board of Directors Meeting or the Young Professionals Affinity Group, the message was clear at the National AMWA Conference – it is time to get involved!  Consider one of the following opportunities:

  • Discuss medical communications on AMWA’s social networks: our Facebook page, our LinkedIn group, and our Twitter feed.
  • Subscribe to 1 or more of AMWA’s listserves.  No minimum length of experience in medical communication is required for participation, and you are welcome to lurk!  More information here.
  • Wield a red pen as a proofreader, manuscript editor, or peer reviewer for the AMWA Journal. Better yet, write an article and build your portfolio!  Contact our own Anne Marie Weber-Main for more information.
  • Lead a Breakfast Roundtable, an open session, or a Coffee and Dessert Klatch at the next AMWA annual conference (in Sacramento, Cal.).  Watch for details this winter in the broadcast e-mails and the AMWA Update electronic newsletter.  To discuss what’s involved, contact the 2012 Annual Conference administrator, Brian Bass.
  • Teach a workshop – an existing one or a new one that you propose – at the next AMWA annual conference.  Contact the Education Department administrator, Sharon Nancekivell at nan….
  • Get active in your chapter, one of the best ways to make contacts in the field.  Could you help organize a meeting, write a newsletter article, produce a podcast or Webinar, manage an interest group, or review our chapter budget?  Contact your chapter president for more information.

What Happens in Jacksonville

Next month, we’ll feature North Central Chapter member’s thoughts and impressions about this year’s national conference.

Too curious to wait?  Check out what conference bloggers and tweeters had to say in their own words at the conference blog.  Twitter hash tag #amwa11 will help you find conference messages.

Free Access to MDConsult

Did you know that free access MDConsult is a benefit of your AMWA Membership?  MDConsult offers access to full-text articles from over 80 medical journals and Clinics, 50 leading medical references across a wide range of specialties, clinically relevant drug information, and more than 13,000 patient handouts.

To use this benefit, you must access MDConsult through the Members Only page on the national AMWA website.  AMWA’s access to MDConsult is limited to 1 member at a time because of cost.

Additional members trying to access the service will have to wait to gain access until after the user signs off. MDConsult has a time-out feature, which automatically logs people out after a period of inactivity. Once you are logged on, perform your search as quickly and efficiently as possible, and then log off.

Location Change for November 16 Twin Cities Discussion Group Meeting

Because of the light rail construction on University Avenue, the Twin Cities Discussion Group will not meet at Overflow Café. Instead the group will meet on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at Caribou Coffee across from Har Mar Mall in Roseville, 2111 Snelling Avenue North, Roseville, MN 55113. The conference room is reserved from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Member Profile: Michele Burlew
By Scott Wessels
Michele Burlew

Michele Burlew is the founder of Episystems, Inc., a company through which she provides data management and analysis consulting services, using SAS software. SAS is an integrated system of software products provided by SAS Institute, Inc. Most of Michele’s consulting work is in health and life sciences. She works with data from clinical trials, epidemiologic studies, medical claims analyses, and national surveys. Michele also writes books on software topics for SAS Press. Currently, she is finishing up the draft on her eighth book for SAS.

Michele earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Cornell University and a Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was fortunate enough to be a co-patent holder on development of ultrasound tissue-equivalent phantoms while she was still a graduate student.

One of Michele’s first jobs was as an analyst/programmer at the computer center on the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota. In this job, she worked on data sets from many different departments and agencies. Michele states that she loved the challenges and met a lot of interesting people. Part of her job was working about 1 day a week at a help desk where she helped faculty and students set up their analyses and write their programs. Their files ranged in size from small surveys of maybe 50 people to data sets that took several reels of magnetic tape to hold. The subject areas included vocational education; food analyses; ecological surveys; veterinary epidemiology investigations; crop, fruit, and vegetable trials; and animal science nutrition studies. Michele also taught beginning SAS programming for a few years.

In the mid 1990s, Michele started writing for SAS Institute, contributing a chapter to one of their books. By the late 1990s, she finished her first book for them, “SAS Macro Programming Made Easy.” Michele wrote a second edition of this book a few years ago, and it has remained a popular choice for SAS programmers. It is often selected as a textbook.

When Michele decided to start her business, she knew she wanted to work in a consulting capacity that would continue her exposure to the variety of projects she had worked on in the past. She also wanted to incorporate the fields she loves, biology, technology, statistics, and logic. Therefore, she focused on finding contracts in those fields. As her programming skills developed, she found work in larger-scale, complex medical applications.

To enhance her writing skills for her business, Michele felt that she needed to be around other writers. Since her consulting is mostly in health and life sciences, she felt that associating with medical writers was a good path to take and that joining AMWA was the logical next step.

Michele likes AMWA very much. “It’s a friendly, professional group with which to associate. I have made a lot of professional contacts and friends through my participation” Michele states. Her first introduction to the North Central Chapter of AMWA was through the book club. “This is a very welcoming meeting, and I found it easy to meet people there and learn more about how others found medical writing as a career” Michele said.

Michele said that her educational and career paths as she has traveled them do not feel particularly well planned. However, in retrospect, she believes she sees a pattern. “I try to keep my interests in biology, technology, and words always active,” she says. Michele says that she has been fortunate to have a few supervisors and clients who have asked her to work on projects that she wasn’t quite sure she could handle. She states of this experience, “They always insisted I could do the work, and they provided me with resources and support. So, I dug in, learned a lot of new things, and each time I’ve ended up with more experience to bring to the next project.”

Upcoming Activities

1. Twin Cities Discussion Group Meets November 16

The Twin Cities AMWA Writers and Editors Discussion Group will meet Wednesday, Nov. 16, at 11 a.m. at Caribou Coffee, 2111 Snelling Avenue North, Roseville, MN 55113. A new permanent meeting location will be chosen due to light rail construction on University Avenue.

2. SE Minnesota AMWA Writers and Editors Discussion Group Meets December 16

The next lunch is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 16, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. These every-other-month, bring-your-own-lunch gatherings are informal. All AMWA members and guests are welcome.

Mayo Clinic Campus
Plummer Building, conference room 1050
100 2nd Ave SW Rochester, MN 55905

More information here.

3. AMWA North Central Chapter Book Club Meets January 30
by Mary Knatterud, book club organizer

On Monday, Jan. 30, the Book Club will discuss W;t, the Pulitzer-winning play by Margaret Edson. We will continue to meet at 11 a.m. at The Egg & I (2550 University Avenue, in the northwest corner of the old International Harvester building, now renovated, just west of Highway 280 near the Minneapolis-St. Paul border—with 2 free parking lots, a small one north of the restaurant and a large one east of it). RSVP by 9 a.m. on Book Club Monday to me via e-mail at MKna….