Newsletter – September 2017

Greetings, North Central Members!

Welcome to the September 2017 chapter newsletter. Let us know what you think, and remember, you can always read it on the chapter website. You can find previous newsletters on the website as well. And we always welcome suggestions for newsletter topics.

In this issue:



Benefit from North Central chapter participation!



Chapter webinar: Word Masterclass, part 1

Wednesday, September 20, 12–1 p.m.

Cost: Free

Microsoft Word is one of the most sophisticated software products in the world. It has 10 menus and more than 350 commands; however, it is said the 90 percent of people only use 10 percent of its functionality. If that’s you, or if you’re struggling with formatting issues, this webinar’s for you.

In this webinar, Stef Brown, product specialist at PleaseReview, the medical writers’ choice for collaborative review, co-authoring, and review software, will cover such topics as table of contents, table of tables, table tools, document layout and styles, references and links, drawings, macros, and the Quick Access Toolbar.

Please register at After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.



Book Club—Fiction this time!

Interface by Neal Stephenson and J. Fredrick George (2005)

Monday, September 25, 6 p.m.

Interface is a novel of malevolent brain manipulation of a United States presidential candidate. Some earlier editions list George Jewsbury or Stephan Bury as an author. Intrigued? Join us for dinner and discussion. Even if you haven’t started or finished Interface by then, feel free to come and chime in anyway. Our small group varies: new and/or returning AMWA Book Club fans are always welcome.

Details: Boca Chica Restaurant (on the West Side of St. Paul, a few minutes south of downtown St. Paul: 11 César Chávez [Wabasha] St., just west of Robert St.); the parking lot is ample, as are the baskets of chips. If you plan to attend, please let Mary Knatterud know by 2 p.m. on September 25: knatt001 (at) umn (dot) edu or 651-645-3858.




Things You May Not Know about the Chapter’s Executive Committee

by Becky Dahlberg, MD

  1. Serving as a North Central chapter EC member takes only a few hours a month.
  2. You do not need to live in the Twin Cities to serve. All meetings are held remotely.
  3. Volunteering looks great on your CV or resume.
  4. Participating provides an excellent networking opportunity. You get to know other leaders well and have a chance to interact with other members.
  5. You help shape the organization at both the local and national levels.
  6. We need you! President-elect and co-secretary positions are open starting October 1.

As current president, I can say that I have learned so much about medical writing from other members. I had no idea that I would learn so much about running a non-profit organization and underestimated how much I would be able to develop my leadership skills.

Volunteers for president-elect and co-secretary will serve one three-year term. President-elect involves one year as president-elect, one year as president, and one year as past president. Co-secretary involves one year in a shared co-secretary position, one year as secretary, and a third year sharing the position with a new co-secretary. In this way, each officer has ample time to learn the ropes and become comfortable in the role.

President-elect duties:

  • assists the President and is ready to serve as President, if the need arises
  • serves on the chapter’s Program Committee
  • prepares chapter reports, with the oversight of the Executive Committee, twice a year to be submitted to AMWA national
  • prepares and submits the minutes from the Executive Committee monthly calls

Co-secretary duties:

  • prepares and sends communications to the membership that informs members of the current chapter offices and chapter activities
  • assists with preparing and distributing the monthly newsletter
  • maintains the chapter website and chapter document archives

To explore these opportunities, please contact Chapter President Becky Dahlberg, at president (at) amwanorthcentral (dot) org.

Interested, but not ready to be president? Consider helping in these committee roles:

  • Programming committee Chair: Have a great idea for our next educational and networking event? We need a new Chair to work with other members of the Chapter to organize events twice a year.
  • Help out on other committees, as publications writers, programming (event) planners, or website writer/editor.

For details, contact EC (at) amwanorthcentral (dot) com.



Read a Good Book?

Whether you’ve read a professional/technical, biomedical/science nonfiction, or fiction book that you think other chapter members may enjoy, share a short review with us. Write a paragraph or a few about what you liked about the book, how it might be good for medical writers to read, or how it might fill a need. Send your submissions to jean (at) imagesmythe (dot) com.



Medical Writing & Communication Conference

November 1–4, 2017

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel, Orlando, Florida

Registration is open for AMWA’s 2017 national conference. Visit the AMWA website to register, view the program, and plan your trip. Remember, earlier registration gets you into more of the workshops, roundtables, or other sessions you want to attend and gives you more time to complete the homework for any workshops that require it. For ideas on preparation before you go, revisit July’s article by Paul Mamula. This month, he offers advice for maximizing your time at the event itself.


Dine with North Central chapter members!

November 2 at 6 p.m.

Il Mulino New York Trattoria Italian restaurant

at the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando

If you’re attending the 2017 Medical Writing & Communication Conference, plan to join the North Central chapter attendees for dinner on November 2. We have reserved a table at the Il Mulino New York Trattoria Italian restaurant located on the Walt Disney resort campus. The chapter will provide appetizers. View the full menu at

Please RSVP by October 8 to Kendra Hyland at president-elect (at) amwanorthcentral (dot) org.


Tips for attending the AMWA national conference

by Paul Mamula, PhD

Tip 1: Orient yourself when you arrive.
If you haven’t been to an AMWA Conference before, consider attending the “New to AMWA and Medical Communication Session” on the first day of the conference. Whether you are new or experienced, if you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask other chapter members or other attendees you meet during the event. Most members are more than willing to share tips, provide advice, and offer suggestions.

One of the first things you will want to do on arriving at the conference is to orient yourself with the facility layout. AMWA provides maps and instructions in the registration packet, so take some time to look through them. In particular, locate where your (paid) AMWA Workshops for certificate credit are scheduled. Then check the program for other open (no additional fee) events and where they will be held. Doing so will save you from scrambling around later looking for the workshops and meeting rooms.

Tip 2: To get the optimum value, attend multiple activities.

Balance your paid workshops with other events, including open sessions, roundtables, awards lunches and dinners, and networking events. The open sessions often feature a panel of speakers and a question-and-answer period. Note that they sometimes overlap with workshop times. In contrast, the awards dinners, which include talks by the winners of the major awards, do not conflict with workshops or other sessions, and if you attend them, you will also have plenty of time to get to all of your scheduled events.

Tip 3: Be on time for your workshops.

Punctuality is critical for your paid workshops for certificate credit. Arriving more than 10 minutes late to such a workshop will cause you to be denied entrance and denied credit. Remember you are paying extra for these!

Tip 4: Peruse the exhibits.

Attending three days worth of workshops and open sessions can be exhausting. So spend some time viewing the exhibits. Book publishers often provide discounts on books ordered on site or within a few weeks of the conference, and there is always fun swag to collect. At times, the exhibits are lightly attended, so walking through and talking with some of the exhibitors can be a low-stress experience.

Tip 5: Receptions, complimentary snacks, and provided meals can save you money
and provide good opportunities to network.

Some meals are included in the registration, and they can provide both networking opportunities and a way to cut down on expenses. (See also the chapter dinner information above.) The receptions, particularly the opening and closing ones, are good ways to get light meals. The closing reception usually introduces the next year’s host city, so it gives a nice preview of what to expect. The closing reception also features drawings for prizes, with the biggest prize being all-expense-paid registration for the upcoming conference. For those staying for the full conference, attendance is worthwhile.

Tip 6: Take a break!

AMWA conference attendees can also pre-purchase Walt Disney World® Resort theme park tickets at discounted rates, including specially priced twilight admission. Resort guests enjoy complimentary scheduled transportation throughout the entire Walt Disney World® Resort. As you might expect, many dining and entertainment options exist in the Orlando area!