Newsletter – August 2018

Greetings, North Central Members!

Welcome to the August 2018 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:







Fall Program: Genome Exhibit Tour and SE MN Networking Lunch

Rochester Art Center, 40 Civic Center Dr. SE, Rochester, MN

Friday, September 21: tour 12 to 1 p.m., lunch 1 to 2 p.m.

Cost: Entrance fee to the Genome Exhibit Tour will be paid by the chapter.

Details: With our SE Minnesota Writers and Editors Discussion Group, our chapter has arranged for a group tour of the extensive exhibit “Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code” at the Rochester Art Center. Join us for a guided tour, lunch afterward, a chance to meet members you might not see regularly, and some fun!

The exhibit itself includes 10 themed areas: Trait Tree, Our Genomic Journey, What’s Your Take?, Your Genome Health, Next-Gen Medicine, Meet Your Genome, What Would You?, Exploring a World of Genomes, Where It All Began, and Cracking the Code.

Related art installations feature creative interpretations based on the subject:

  • First Person Plural: A local artist’s video overlays portraits with data visualization from tools used in genomic medical research.
  • Myriphon: When participants answer questions about genetic and environmental factors, their answers contribute to a soundscape of chimes.
  • Positive Exposure: Photographs of people who have genetic conditions convey the beauty of all people.
  • Beyond the Diagnosis: Commissioned international paintings focus on living with a rare genetic disease.
  • Intimate Gravity: A local artist’s abstract paintings incorporate embroidery and explore a pregnant woman’s feelings regarding passing on a genetic condition.

And the Genome Zone provides hands-on opportunities to create a family fingerprint portrait, thumbprint self-portrait, DNA bracelet, or helix image embroidery square.

For more information about the exhibit, visit

RSVP to Messac Che Neba, mcheneba (at) gmail (dot) com and look for more information about this event in the September newsletter.

Book Club: Monday, September 24, 2018, at 6 p.m.

Boca Chica Restaurant, St. Paul, MN

A World without “Whom”: The Essential Guide to Language in the Buzzfeed Age

Details: For our fall meeting, we will be discussing a breezy read about web-based language changes, A World without “Whom”: The Essential Guide to Language in the Buzzfeed Age by Emmy J. Favilla. Those changes do have an impact, obvious or not, on the world of medical writing and editing.

We’ll meet at 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 Street. The parking lot is ample, as are the baskets of chips.

Note: Because of the recent rock slide (aka “bluff slide”) on Wabasha, that street is closed just north of the restaurant; however, the workaround is quick and easy: if you’re coming from downtown St. Paul, simply take Robert St. south over the Mississippi instead, then turn right (west) onto César Chávez [Wabasha] St. It’s possible, but unlikely, that the construction zone will be in the rearview by late September.

You are warmly invited to ask a colleague or a friend to come along with you. Your guest need not be an AMWA member (yet!), just someone who loves books and language-oriented, medically inflected discussions.

If you (and a guest) plan to attend, please let Mary Knatterud know by 2 p.m. on September 24: knatt001 (at) umn (dot) edu or 651-645-3858.

Even if you haven’t started or finished the book 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.

For those of you who like to read ahead, we have chosen our books for 2019:

  • January 28, 2019: The Written World: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, Civilization by Martin Puchner
  • April 29, 2019: Blood: An Epic History of Medicine and Commerce by Douglas Starr
  • September 30, 2019: Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance by Atul Gawande



Volunteers Still Needed!

AMWA North Central is a volunteer-based organization. If members don’t take an active role, the chapter will cease to function, and members will lose access to programming, news, and networking opportunities. Consider taking your turn to lead (or join) a committee or serve as a chapter officer. These positions are open:

  • President-Elect: The President-Elect participates in a 3-year term: learning the chapter’s processes as president-elect, then serving as president, and finally continuing on as past president to ensure continuity.
  • Treasurer: The Treasurer (3-year term) manages the chapter checking account, develops the annual budget in collaboration with the president and president-elect, contributes to semi-annual reports, completes IRS filing, and when needed, helps other committees establish a budget for large events. The current treasurer’s term will overlap with the incoming treasurer’s term to teach you about the position.
  • Finance Committee Chair: The Finance Committee Chair coordinates the annual audit of the chapter’s financial records at the close of the fiscal year (July) and reports the findings to the Chapter Treasurer.
  • Publications Committee Chair: As our Publications Committee Chair, you can use your editorial and organizational skills to keep chapter members informed by writing and asking others to write for our monthly e-newsletter (e.g., profiles of members, “What We Do” articles, and news items).

Not ready or able to lead a committee? All our committees welcome members to share ideas and keep the workload light.

In addition to keeping our group viable, volunteering with AMWA is a great way to network with your fellow members. It’s also a good way to fortify your C.V. with an extra line showing how you give back to your profession! If you can volunteer a few hours a month to help, contact our president, Kendra Hyland: president (at) Thank you!



Live Webinars

August is traditionally back-to-school time, so what better reason to take an opportunity to learn? The national AMWA office offers these online learning opportunities for all members. Hurry—don’t wait to sign up!

  • How to Effectively Shorten Abstracts, Thursday, September 13
  • Eternal Vigilance Is the Price of Accuracy, Wednesday, October 10

These webinars run from 12 to 1 p.m. (CDT). Read more about the presenters and their topics and register at under “Education.”

Medical Writing & Communication Conference

November 1–3, 2018 (with preconference events on October 31)

Renaissance Washington DC Downtown Hotel

Registration is now open for AMWA’s 2018 national conference. Visit the AMWA website to register and plan your trip. Remember, earlier registration gets you into more of the workshops, roundtables, and other sessions you want to attend and gives you more time to complete the homework for any workshops that require it. A schedule and listings of workshops, education sessions, and discussion roundtables are posted online.



Member Profile:

Mary Van Beusekom, MA, ELS, MWC

by Jean Cook, ELS

A senior communications consultant at HealthPartners Institute in Bloomington, Minnesota, Mary Van Beusekom also operates her own home-based business, Synapse Writing & Editing.

Her work includes writing and editing patient education materials and manuscripts for publication in medical journals, editing grant proposals and books, researching and writing articles for news organizations, and managing many other types of projects.

“I love taking a piece of writing and making it shine by improving concision, logic, and clarity and removing jargon, improving the chance of publication or funding,” she explains, adding, “Authors are always so appreciative.”

Mary holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and a master’s degree in technical and professional communication from the University of Wisconsin–Stout in Menomonie. “The journalism degree prepared me to be endlessly curious, research thoroughly and doggedly, be a quick study, and produce compelling copy on deadline,” she says. “The master’s degree taught me communication theories and rhetoric and helped me become more thoughtful and consider the ‘big picture.’”

Her own “big picture” did not originally include medical writing. She was working as a full-time newspaper reporter when she decided to go back to college and complete pre-med coursework on the way to becoming a veterinarian.

“When my application wasn’t accepted, I wondered how to combine journalism and biology to make a career,” she says. Then she saw an ad in the Star Tribune for an associate medical editor at McGraw-Hill Healthcare Information in Edina. “I thought, ‘I can do that!’” she recalls. “I love the challenges that medical writing and editing present and making a good product even better.”

Joining the staff of McGraw-Hill Healthcare Information also introduced her to AMWA, when her employer sent her to the annual conference. “I was so impressed with the number of attendees, the quality and breadth of the programming, and the networking opportunities,” she recalls. “I received my first freelance medical writing assignment at that conference!”

Belonging to AMWA, she explains, “has enabled me to be certified as a medical writer and editor, educated me on the evolving standards and conditions of the field, led to freelance opportunities, and expanded my network.” Mary has earned AMWA’s Essential Skills certificate and the Medical Writer Certified (MWC) credential.

She describes her work situation as “mostly low-stress, and flexible, which allows me to spend as much time as possible with my family.” Mary lives in Excelsior, Minnesota, with her spouse, two children, and three cats. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, crossword puzzles, indie films, travel, cooking, baking, walking, volunteering, gardening, and nature. In fact, she says, “I am very concerned about the environment and work every day to lighten my footprint and live in tune with nature.”

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.