Newsletter- February/ March 2021

Welcome to the February/ March 2021 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:


  • Spring Event: Security for Home Offices, April 15th, 2021 – via Zoom
  • Next Book Club: Monday, April 26th, 2021 via Zoom




Spring Event: Security for Home Offices

Join us on April 15th, 2021 for a Virtual Event focused on establishing security for home offices – a timely consideration as many in the writing and editing field have transitioned to working remotely. This event will be a speaker session where attendees can learn important tips for home office security and participate in a question-and-answer session afterwards. This is a great opportunity to increase the professionalism of your home office space. Stay tuned for more details!

Book Club hosted by Paul Mamula

Topic: Semicolon: The Past, Present, and Future of a Misunderstood Mark by Cecilia Watson

When:  Monday, April 26th, 2021 at 6:00 pm Central Time via Zoom

Details:  This book presents a history of the semicolon and is only 179 pages. It contains lots of trivia and fun facts about this punctuation mark. That a semicolon in a law could influence its interpretation is an interesting section in the book. Hope to see you there!

RSVP: Please email Book Club coordinator Paul Mamula to let him know you will attend by Monday, April 21st, if you have not done so already: paulpat (at)


Take an active role in AMWA – Volunteers needed!

The AMWA North Central chapter is looking for a new president-elect and programming chair. 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.

The following positions are open:

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.

Programming Committee Chair: The Program Committee Chair is responsible for organizing AMWA events throughout the year, including identifying topics of interest and recruiting speakers. This is an important role in AMWA and is valuable for both member engagement and education. Please submit your interest or nominations by to president (at) amwanorthcentral (dot) org.

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


Insights from AMWA’s February discussion panel: Transitioning to Medical Writing Part II

by Ashley Mooneyham, PhD

Part II of AMWA North Central’s “Transitioning to Medical Writing” series was held on the evening of Thursday, February 18th. Joining as panelists were Amy Lindgren, BS, a Freelance Writer with Banfil Street Press and President of Prototype Career Services; Naomi Ruff, Ph.D., ELS, a Scientific and Medical Communications Professional with RuffDraft Communications LLC.; and Scott Wessels, MPS, ELS, a Senior Program Manager with the American Academy of Neurology. Over 20 AMWA members joined the lively discussion to learn about what an average day looks like for our panelists, the experience that was key to their success, and recommended next steps toward a career in their field. Read on for a summary of their insights.

Amy started Banfil Street Press and Prototype Career Services on the same day in 1985; both have remained successful endeavors. She freelances and publishes books under Banfil Street Press, and serves as a career counselor and job search strategist for Prototype Career Services, and serves as a career counselor and job search strategist with Prototype Career Services. Amy credits her consistent long-term self-employment to a broad workload. Having the flexibility to work in a variety of different fields and capacities allows her to maintain a “leg on the stool” during any recession. Her client base grew primarily through word-of-mouth and networking in professional organizations such as AMWA. Her business strategy is to always maintain client relationships and have an eye toward future needs by engaging with clients to build work 1-2 months before work is needed, and trimming back communications when at capacity. When getting started, Amy advises a rule of thirds for time allocation: expect to spend 2/3 of your time managing/setting up your business and 1/3 of your time writing in the beginning, with the goal to reverse the proportions as clients are established.   

Naomi also started her own business, RuffDraft Communications LLC, and works independently as a freelancer. She primarily spends her time writing and editing journal articles and NIH grant applications, but also does continuing medical education and industry work. Her clients are often independent researchers at Universities or Institutions such as Mayo Clinic, but she occasionally works with companies or directly with research institutions. Although a lot of her learning was done on the job, Naomi notes that studying subject matter related to your goals and taking certification exams is a worthwhile endeavor. A few examples include the Board of Editors in Life Sciences (BELS) certification, Regulatory Affairs Professional Society (RAPS) exam, and the International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP) exam. Another valuable approach to prepping for a career in freelancing is to reach out for informational interviews through LinkedIn, networking relationships, and/or warm introductions. Naomi recommends personalizing each request by describing who you are, how you know them, and what you’re looking for to increase likelihood of response.

Scott writes for the American Academy of Neurology’s clinical practice guidelines department. He notes that his role is mostly in the production area; manuscripts are developed and then sent to Scott for editing, processing, and submitting to journals with appropriate approvals. Scott wasn’t always a medical editor, but found his passion after entering an editing program. After receiving a certificate in editing, Scott was able to quickly move up the ranks from Editor to Senior Editor at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) through hard work and enthusiasm. Leveraging network relationships is also Scott’s key recommendation for breaking into the editing field. Beyond networking, he encourages job-seekers to consider internship programs as a strategy to enter an organization. Internships can not only provide valuable work experience and important skill sets, but they allow individuals to demonstrate commitment to a field and access networking relationships.

All panelists agree that being involved in AMWA is a great first step toward building a successful career, and encouraged members to take AMWA courses that interest them, attend conference sessions, and participate in events such as this panel. Thank you to all participants for sharing their time and insights! See you at the next event.