Newsletter – July 2019

Greetings, North Central Members!

Welcome to the July 2019 chapter newsletter. Let us know what you think, and remember, you can also 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:





Book Club: Monday, September 30, 2019

La Casita, 1925 Perimeter Dr, Roseville, MN 55113

Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance by Atul Gawande


Join us for our next book club on September 30, 2019, at 6 p.m. at La Casita in Roseville. We will discuss Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance by Atul Gawande. Even if you haven’t read the book, feel free to join our conversation and enjoy some good Mexican cooking. We hope to see you there. By 9 a.m. the morning of September 30, please email Book Club coordinator Paul Mamula to let him know you’re coming: paulpat (at) pclink (dot) com.

Spring Event Recap

The spring event took place on June 19, 2019 at Urban Growler Brewing Company from 5:30 to 8:00 pm. About 12 people attended, including members and non-members, and food and drinks were provided by the chapter. This year’s presentation by Dr. Joy Frestedt focused on trends, opportunities, and transitioning into medical writing.

Upcoming Fall Special Event: Watch for details in the coming months!

Save the Date: September 25, 2019


Take an Active Role — Volunteer!

We still have some additional missing links in leadership and some gracious previous volunteers working beyond their term. As you know, our chapter 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 still open:

  • Treasurer: The treasurer (3-year term) manages the chapter’s checking account, develops the annual budget in collaboration with the president and president-elect, contributes to semiannual 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: This chair coordinates the annual audit of the chapter’s financial records at the close of the fiscal year (June) and reports the findings to the chapter treasurer.

Not ready or able to lead a committee? All of 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, Lisa Poppenberg: president (at) amwanorthcentral (dot) org. Thank you!


Read A Good Book?: Big Chicken by Maryn McKenna

By Paul W. Mamula, PhD

Maryn McKenna’s latest book, Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats presents a fascinating tale of the chicken industry and its role in the growing proliferation of antibiotic resistance. It is the latest work of a journalist who has covered health care, infectious diseases, and antibiotic resistance. Her previous book was Superbug which documented the proliferation of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections. She has also twice been a guest at our Book Club, and was at Mager’s and Quinn 2 years ago to discuss the book (Alas, I missed her book talk there due to a snow storm!)*

I enjoyed Big Chicken because of the skillful ways in which she presents how our current production of chicken arose and discusses potential ways in which we might change methods of poultry to produce a better, tastier chicken. Her book tells how these methods culminated in a fast-growing but bland-tasting chicken breed that has crowded out many original stocks. Over that time, the poultry industry has also become dependent on antibiotics for producing the vast numbers of poultry as chicken displaces beef as a major food and has contributed to the growing threat of antibiotic resistance.

I especially liked her chapters on how we might raise poultry without antibiotics, or at least nearly so, by illustrating the industry in France. Her discussion of the Dutch pork industry serves as an example of how antibiotic-free production can work without sacrificing yield. Finding a chapter about pigs in a book about poultry production was a little jarring, but it illustrates the point well. Funny, too, because I remember reading about the Dutch pork industry when I covered antibiotic resistance while working at CIDRAP. Her book is well-researched but very readable, with good history interwoven with her own research about the people and the scientists behind the developments. As always, her stories about people make for captivating reading. I found her opening chapter about eating a freshly roasted heirloom chicken in Paris and later chapters about the French poultry cottage industry fun. I also wonder if the methods would work here, since the influence of agribusiness has such a tight grip on the market. I’d recommend the book to anyone interested in a fascinating account of our chicken industry.

*Disclaimer: Maryn and I worked at Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy [CIDRAP] a few years ago; however, I have no financial interest in her book. 

Have you read a good book lately?

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 jennerb (at) gmail (dot) com.