by Dr Justin Coleman (AMWA President)
I am quite fond of misogyny. Misogyny and syphilis. You never quite know whether to write ‘y’ or ‘i’, and these spelling quirks give me an odd thrill. Just a pity neither is curable with amitriptyline.
When the Macquarie Dictionary redefined the word ‘misogyny’ the week after PM Gillard threw it at Mr Abbott, I, for one, was cheering. Not for her aim, necessarily, but it’s not often a word definition hits the front page (let alone an opposition leader).
by Rada Rouse
A recent Twitter discussion on the use of the term ‘patient compliance’ triggered some thoughts about the importance of language medical writers choose – and memories of ‘feminist studies’ years ago.
Use of ‘patient compliance’, rather than, say, ‘medicine adherence’ seems a bit top-down. It may imply ‘the patient is a slack person for not doing what the doctor says’.
Or, as doctor and writer Tim Senior suggested in a tweet, the phrase is health professional code for “this person hasn’t been able to do what we discussed and I can’t be bothered to find out why”.
By Michelle Guillemard (AMWA webmaster and blog moderator)
I know what you’re thinking: nobody wants to read a blog about medical writing. You don’t want to write for free. There are enough blogs out there already. Right?
Here’s the truth: blogging is one of your most important business strategies. It’s a must-have for all medical writers (freelance or permanently employed, beginner or old-hand) who want to build a profile, get more clients, network with other writers, and stay ahead of the game.
What’s it all about?
In a nutshell, blogging enhances your business. Blogging shows that you care about being a medical writer and that you have something interesting to offer. It establishes you as a credible expert, and it showcases your writing skills to the rest of the community.
Great bloggers encourage their audience to choose their services over someone else’s by posting excellent content and building trust with their readers.
Medical writing and blogging
As a medical writer, you would know that medicine is an exciting industry for writers to be a part of: it’s ever-changing and controversial. There’s massive potential for debate, discussion and education. Health affects everyone, and there’s always something to say about it.
The European Medical Writers Association asked Justin Coleman for the low down on AMWA for their journal, Medical Writer.
Dear Northern Hemispherean,
If I asked where Australasia is, would you throw a net over about half of the world’s population, wondering why this correspondent is based in Australia rather than Hong Kong or Singapore? Not, perhaps, if you were a writer with an interest in etymology.
In 1756, Charles de Brosses—I suspect he was a European chap—coined the term to describe the region south (Latin: australis) of Asia. Australasia therefore includes Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Fiji, and nearby island nations, but excludes Asia. Had Charles stopped to chat as he sailed by, he may have been disappointed not to have understood a word of the 300 local languages in Australia or 840 in PNG. These days, we do all our medical writing in English…although that would possibly be an even greater disappointment for Monsieur de Brosses.
The Australasian Medical Writers Association (AMWA)—not to be confused with our American counterpart which antecedently borrowed our acronym—was formed thirty years ago.
Medical Writing: A guide for clinicians, educators and researchers [Second edition]. By Robert B. Taylor. This review was written by Dr Justin Coleman, AMWA President, and was first published in Australian Family Physician, Vol 41, No8, p 638, Aug 2012. Reproduced with permission.
For the medical reader journeying to the ‘input’ side of a publication, Medical Writing makes a fine companion.
Medical Writing falls somewhere between a discursive read and a reference guide. The first five
chapters warrant thorough attention, covering not only the essential tool kit of word use, paragraph structure and technical aspects, but also answering the fundamental questions ‘What should I write?’ and ‘How do I start?’ The arduous journey from blank computer screen to reading your name in print should be hugely rewarding.
When current AMWA secretary Dr Sarah McKay left the heady world of neuroscience research to try her hand at medical writing, she wasn’t sure it was the right decision, and blogged about the experience here. Four years later, she now knows she made the right choice, and is happy to share a few tips. First published on Sarah’s blog Nov 2012.
In my last post I wrote about my thoughts on leaving medical research to pursue a career in science and medical writing. And I’m often asked about how exactly I made that switch.
Here are five tips that worked for me when I first started out as a freelance medical writer.
The 2012 Australasian Medical Writers Association Conference was held in Brisbane in August 2012. AMWA President Dr Justin Coleman was asked by the Croakey blog to sum up the best bits.
Travel far enough down the list of desired outcomes for most careers and you will eventually reach some variant on ‘make the world a better place’. This sentiment leapt to the top of the list during last weekend’s Australasian Medical Writers Association (AMWA) 29th annual conference in Brisbane, Social Justice in Health.
Medical writers are good at presenting complex information clearly and accurately. We learn how to spell big words, use smaller ones where possible, and delete the weasels entirely.