Roundtables 2023


Roundtable Sessions 2:45 PM to 3:30 PM


Attendees will select from


at Check-in on the day of the conference

American Medical Writers Association Mid-Atlantic Chapter 2023 Annual Conference
Friday, March 3, 2023 from 7:30 AM to 3:30 PM EST


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1. That’s a Good Question: 7 Steps to Improve the Test Questions You Write or Edit

Julianna Merten, PharmD
Amy Seung, PharmD

Many writers struggle with writing good questions, determining what content to test, and ensuring the questions are fair and unbiased. Questions that test the subject’s knowledge are critical for successful continuing medical education and training modules. This interactive roundtable will highlight 7 best practices for item writing and engage the audience in revising test questions to apply the principles.

2. Overcoming the Curse of Knowledge

J. Rosser Matthews, PhD, MPP, MPH, MWC

If you understand something very well, explaining it clearly to other people may be difficult. This mental blind spot is dubbed the “curse of knowledge” and it can contribute to unclear writing. Using examples from biomedical writing, this roundtable session will explain the concept and discuss ways to address the problem.

3. What a New Medical Writer Should Know to Excel in a Cross-Functional Team Environment

Swati Dadhich-Mandal, PhD, Principal Medical Writing Scientist

While having a good understanding of scientific/medical knowledge and strategies is essential, the medical writer must rely on the soft skills and expertise of other contributors to excel in a cross-functional environment. The medical writer might need to lead the team in order to meet and maximize project goals. This roundtable will discuss the strategies successful medical writers use to excel in cross-functional team environments. 

4. Freelancing on My Mind: Tips for a Successful Freelance Medical Writing Business

Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, Freelance Writer/Editor

The freelance life is appealing to many medical writers, and our expertise is needed and usually well-compensated — but it takes more than experience in the field to succeed. This roundtable is an opportunity to discuss what it takes to start, maintain, and expand a freelance medical writing (or editing or proofreading) business — personality characteristics, skill sets, important tools, pitfalls, promotional techniques, resources for outlets and promotional development, rates and billing/payments, and more.

5. Leveling up: How Using Emotional Intelligence (EI) will make you a Better Communicator

Gretchen Griffin, MS, BeiGene

The world of medical communication changes as frequently as the styles, guidance, and standards that accompany it. The expectations of what a medical writer can and will do are evolving and growing. The perceived value of a medical writer is not solely based on the document quality, but on how well they partner with and support the team. This session will include a brief background on EI, relevant EI skills, and the benefits of successful EI skill application.



7:30 – 8:30Registration Check-in, Breakfast, Networking
8:30 – 8:45Welcome and Announcements: Marielle Fares, Conference Co-Chair
8:45 – 9:45


There’s More to Educating Yourself as an Effective Medical Writer Than Regs, Pubs, and Med Ed 

Dan Benau, MSOD, PhD

Two common questions that frequently come up on AMWA Engage are “How do I break into the field?” and “How do I expand my career as a medical writer?” The basics of medical writing, such as those that you find in the AMWA Essential Skills package, will help you get into the field. Persistence, some experience, and a dab of luck will help you establish yourself. To really advance your career, you need to learn a broader set of skills, both soft and hard, to make yourself a truly effective medical communicator. This address will cover the skills needed to advance your career, focusing on audience identification within your organization and in the larger public. Dan will share insights he has gained from 15 years as an active medical writer and 17 years as a medical writing educator—13 of which were as director of the biomedical writing program at University of the Sciences.

9:45 – 10:05Break
10:05 – 11:05

Session 1

Leading With Influence: Successful Strategies for Regulatory (and Non-Regulatory) Writers

Robin Whitsell, CEO of Whitsell Innovations, Inc.

As medical writers, we are often responsible for delivering documents that require expertise and input from a variety of team members. Though we carry a leadership role for our teams, we do not (necessarily) have authority over those team members. This session will map out strategies for effectively managing team members and creating consensus. We will explore scenarios and discuss plans of action for addressing them; audience members will be encouraged to share their tips for success.

11:05 – 11:15Break
11:15  – 12:15

Session 2

Track 1

Graphics For Medical Writers: Posters, Slide Decks, Manuscripts, Figures And Tables 

Laurie La Russo, MS, ELS

Clean, crisp graphics that highlight important data and convey key messages are in high demand. Medical writers need not fear figures, panic about posters, or stress over slides. You can easily create high-quality visual elements without enlisting the help of a graphic designer, incurring the expense of high-end graphics software, or enduring a long learning curve. Learn how to create top-notch figures, charts, and diagrams for slides, posters, and manuscripts using only Microsoft PowerPoint and its embedded Excel features. This program will address opportunities for visual data presentation, which graphical format to use, and demonstrations of how each type of graphic is created.

Track 2

10 Critical Appraisal Pearls to Enhance Your Critical Thinking About Biomedical Literature

Julianna Merten, PharmD

Excellent critical thinking skills are core skills of experts in medical communications. Learn from a clinical pharmacist how clinicians read and interpret the medical literature. Resources to support critical appraisal of clinical trials will be highlighted. From PICO to p-values, learn how to decipher what is significant about the next paper you read.

12:15 – 1:30Lunch

Remarks from AMWA-MAC President Colleen Walacavage; Annual Chapter Business Meeting

1:30 – 2:30

Session 3

Track 1

Medical Simulations for Writers: Deconstructing a Patient Case

Allison Armagan, PharmD

This presentation will cover the various aspects of medical writing that go into creating a patient simulation. We will discuss the types of writing, the importance of the patient story, and best practices for researching and writing a patient case.

Track 2

Overview of the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP) Dossier and Key Considerations For Medical Writers

Iris Tam, PharmD

This presentation will provide an overview of the AMCP Format for Formulary Submissions—the guidelines for developing the AMCP product dossier—including the background on why these were started in 2000. We will review the basic components of a product dossier (content, structure, format) and identify some key considerations for medical writers to ensure the delivery of a well-written dossier. Understanding what is accurate, relevant, and user-friendly for the applicable audience, as well as understanding the purpose of the dossier, will help the medical writer be aware of common pitfalls often occurring in the real world.

2:30 – 2:45Break
2:45 – 3:30


See above