Newsletter- December 2020

Welcome to the December 2020 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:


  • Discussion Panel: Transitioning to Medical Writing, January 14 and February 18, 2021 from 6 – 7 pm – via Zoom.
  • Next Book Club: Monday, January 25th, 2021 via Zoom




Discussion Panel: Transitioning to Medical Writing

Hear from a wide-ranging panel of medical writers on their experience in the medical writing field including what it takes to succeed, how to find/secure jobs, and the pros and cons of each position. We are thrilled to have a panel that includes members from diverse medical communication practices with about a century of combined experience, which allows us to learn about the various career options in the field. Please join us!

The panel members are as follows:

  • Mary Van Beusekom, MS, ELS, MWC (Editorial Consultant and Content Manager, CIDRAP)
  • Scott Wessels, MPS, ELS (Senior Program Manager, American Academy of Neurology)
  • Naomi Ruff, PhD, ELS (Biomedical Communicator, RuffDraft Communications LLC)
  • Amy Lindgren (Freelance Writer, Banfil Street Press)
  • Michael Franklin, MS (Senior Managing Editor, Translational Science)
  • Kendra Hyland, PhD (Medical Writer, Medtronic)
  • Paul Mamula, PhD (Freelance Writer and Editor, Independent)
  • Joy Frestedt (President and CEO, Frestedt Incorporated

The event will be held on January 14th, 2021 from 6 – 7 pm via Zoom. A second session will be held Feburary 18, 2021 with meeting details to follow. Please RSVP here for both sessions or email Messac at programs (at) amwanorthcentral (dot) org to register. Zoom Meeting ID: 988 8628 4936

Book Club hosted by Paul Mamula

Topic: Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs by Michael T. Osterholm and Mark Olshaker

When:  Monday, January 25th, 2021 at 11:00 am Central Time via Zoom

Details:  We will be reading the second edition (2020), which has a new section about the COVID-19 pandemic. The book is nontechnical and an easy read. It traces many diseases and also includes stories about Michael Osterholm’s life and career. See you there!

RSVP: By 9 a.m. the morning of January 18th, please email Book Club coordinator Paul Mamula to let him know you will attend: paulpat (at) Click here to join the Zoom meeting. Meeting ID: 841 9976 1011
Passcode: pn03K8


Take an active role in AMWA – Volunteers needed!

The AMWA North Central chapter is looking for a new president-elect. The president-elect position is critical to our status as a chapter!  Without a volunteer to fill this vital position, we will not be able to continue as a chapter. Please volunteer!

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.

President-elect: The new president-elect role will serve a one-year term beginning in February 2021 and ideally will transition into the role of president in 2022. As president-elect, you will attend the monthly AMWA NC chapter board meetings, take minutes, and chair the meeting if the president is unable to attend. Other duties may be assigned by the president or board on an ad hoc basis. Please submit your nominations to president (at) amwanorthcentral (dot) org.

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, Michele Cleary: president (at) amwanorthcentral (dot) org


Reflections on a most unexpected year: A president’s year-end thoughts

Michele Cleary, PhD

As I reflected on this year, I reviewed last December’s 2020 prognostications. Healthcare thought-leaders predicted 2020 would be defined by breakthrough gene therapies, debates over drug prices, questions surrounding the resilience of the Affordable Care Act, digitalization of health care, and new orphan drugs, to name a few.

Little did we know what this year would have in store.

As we all know, while these predictions were being published, a novel coronavirus had begun its global campaign in China’s Hubei province. Wuhan rapidly constructed temporary hospitals and imposed rigid quarantine policies. If you were like me, mornings started with examining the daily case count, country by country, as this virus began encircled the globe.

By mid-February, the World Health Organization bestowed an official name -COVID-19.

The US publicly confirmed the virus’ arrival that month. Within weeks, we adapted to masks and social distancing. We began wiping down our groceries and closely monitored our rate of toilet tissue consumption. We witnessed the politicization of public health measures.

By March, we transitioned to working from home, sometimes while juggling the roles of teacher support or daycare supervisor. And we perfected the Zoom call, confirming the dogs have only non-squeaky toys before a call begins.

Throughout the year, we have missed events, large and small. BBQs, graduations, weddings, holidays, and funerals.

Some of us have battled COVID. Some of us have lost loved ones.

This virus has changed us. It has changed our work lives. And it has changed our organization.

Our chapter nimbly retooled for virtual gatherings, hosting our annual meeting, book clubs, and even happy hours through Zoom. We welcomed two nationally renowned speakers – infectious disease expert Dr. Michael Osterholm, to share his thoughts on the COVID pandemic, and his colleague, Dr. Stephen Schondelmeyer, to discuss how the pandemic impacts the drug supply chain. In January, the chapter will host its third virtual speaker program, hosting a panel discussion on entering the medical writing profession.

Currently, we face what may be the darkest days of this pandemic, with our region arguably the hottest of all global hot spots. Yet, there appears to be hope on the horizon with multiple vaccines nearing approval.

2021 will no doubt challenge us as we attempt to navigate a safe reopening of businesses and schools. For many chapter members, this may include returning to on-site work.

While we may yearn for normalcy, this pandemic has no doubt left some permanent marks. I am hopeful that we may maintain some of our COVID compromises. The virtual book clubs, happy hours, and meetings allow us to visit with fellow members more frequently—the virtual speaker programs to keep us better informed.

2021 will be a year of renewal. Beginning in January, we welcome new leadership not only in Washington but also within our chapter as Natalie Reierson assumes the role of chapter president. I am excited to see how Natalie will embrace this opportunity during what I hope to be a year of positive renewal.

Warmest regards,