Panel Discussion

Unique Opportunities for Medical Writers in DC

Medical writers in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area have unique opportunities to work with federal agencies, national associations, non-profit organizations, global pharmaceutical companies, and communications firms as freelancers, contractors, or employees. These skilled communicators share research findings, information about new products and services, and life-saving health information with peers, medical professionals, and the public. Whether you prepare journal articles and manuscripts for scientific publications, develop continuing education materials for healthcare professionals, regulatory documents for government agencies, patient education materials, or grant proposals, there’s a place for you in the nation’s capital. Learn more about the area’s vibrant ecosystem in this engaging panel discussion.

Amber Boehm, PhD
Assistant Director of Editorial Services
Palladian Partners
Greg Guthrie
Senior Manager, Clinical Content
Marketing & Communications
American Society of Clinical Oncology  
Paul R. Thomas, EdD, RDN
Scientific Consultant (Contractor)
Office of Dietary Supplements
National Institutes of Health
Moderator: Judith M. Orvos, ELS
President, Orvos Communications, LLC
President-Elect, AMWA-MAC  

Amber Boehm, PhD, has worked at Palladian Partners in Silver Spring, MD, since 2006. She started as a junior writer, transitioned to writing team lead, and now serves as assistant director of the editorial department. Amber started her career in biomedical science. She trained at educational institutions in Michigan, Nebraska, and upstate New York, pursuing her interest in molecular pathways in cancer. She had a near-miss of taking the path toward assistant professor, making it as far as a postdoctoral research associate before adjusting course and pursuing science writing full time. One of Amber’s first steps was to go to an AMWA annual meeting, where she attended multiple sessions about the medical writing profession and met people who provided advice for making the leap to this “alternative career.” She now gets to spend her days working with talented communication strategists, writers, and editors to support primarily government clients in their communication needs, with some budgeting and business development thrown in. When not at work, Amber spends her time commuting (to and from work), communing (with nature), and cohabitating with a husband and monozygotic twin 15-year-old boys.

Greg Guthrie is the senior manager of clinical content for Cancer.Net, the patient information website of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). He oversees several elements of the patient education program, including the award-winning Cancer.Net Blog and the ASCO Answers printed patient materials portfolio. Previously, Greg spent 12 years in association book publishing in the trade and science-technical-medical (STM) markets. He has been a copy editor, production editor, art director, and managing editor, and for two years, he was a judge for the Book Design and Effectiveness Awards for Washington Publishers. Greg has an MA in English Literature from the University of New Hampshire and a BA in English from the University of Iowa.

Paul R. Thomas, EdD, RDN, has been with the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) as a Scientific Consultant since 2005. In that capacity, he has contributed to various projects with most of the ODS scientific staff. Dr. Thomas works primarily in the ODS communications area, where he prepares dietary supplement fact sheets and other informational and educational materials. Dr. Thomas also administers the Federal Working Group on Dietary Supplements, which serves as a means of communication between ODS and its federal partners to co-fund research, expand opportunities for research-investigator training, and strengthen collaborative efforts involving dietary supplement research, education, and communication.

Dr. Thomas came to Washington, DC, to work on nutrition policy issues in 1987. For eight years, he was a project director at the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, National Academies. Other positions he has held include Fellow and Research Assistant Professor at the Center for Food and Nutrition Policy at Georgetown University, Expert Consultant to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Senior Staff Scientist with the Life Sciences Research Office. From 2000 to 2003, he wrote and published a newsletter, The Dietary Supplement.

Dr. Thomas received his EdD in Nutrition Education in 1988 from Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a registered dietitian and a member of the American Society for Nutrition.

Judith M. Orvos, ELS, has been the sole proprietor of Orvos Communications, a company dedicated to “making sense of science” through clear editing and writing on medical topics for clients, since 2011. In addition to her membership in AMWA, she is a member of the Council of Science Editors and board-certified as an Editor in the Life Sciences by the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences (BELS). Before launching Orvos Communications, Judith had a 30-year career as a full-time editor and writer that included work in the corporate, trade publishing, public health, and nonprofit sectors.

As editor of Contemporary OB/GYN, she was the recipient of four Jesse H. Neal Awards—the Pulitzer Prize of trade publishing. She has overseen the work of staff editors, freelancers, and graphic designers for a trade publisher and a government contractor supporting USAID’s Bureau for Global Health, and supervised writers, editors, designers, and hotline staff for an NIH public information clearinghouse. Judith’s work for clients under the Orvos Communications banner has included editing federally approved HIV/AIDS medical treatment guidelines for on behalf of the National Library of Medicine, consulting on editorial strategy and social media for the physician magazine Contemporary OB/GYN, drafting content for continuing medical education (CME) needs assessments and programs for clients such as Medscape Education, and preparing materials for and reports from scientific advisory board meetings.

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