Educational Opportunity for Medical and Scientific Writers

The Greater Chicago Area Chapter (GCAC) of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) will offer four workshops at its 2009 conference on Friday, July 31.

The workshops are open to both AMWA members and nonmembers. Courses offered will apply to certificates in science fundamentals, pharmaceutical, and editing/writing disciplines. An advanced course will also be offered.

In Basics of Epidemiology for Biomedical Communicators, participants will be provided with the ABCs of data interpretation according to basic epidemiological concepts. Measures of disease occurrence, research designs, and causality development will be discussed.

Statistics for Medical Writers and Editors is designed for participants who have little or no background in statistics. Emphasis will be placed on understanding statistical presentations and on reporting statistical information, not on calculations or mathematical explanations.

Improving Comprehension, Theories and Research Findings is for writers interested in exploring research into written communication. Participants will consider how readers make sense of a text, examine the factors that promote or inhibit this sense-making, and discuss how theories of composition, communication, and cognitive psychology and their associated research findings can improve the quality of written communications.

The advanced course, Understanding and Reporting the Performance Characteristics of Diagnostic Tests, will introduce participants to the most important characteristics of diagnostic tests — sensitivity, specificity, likelihood ratios, predictive values, receiver operating characteristics curves, and so on — as well as to other, related, concepts, such as the meaning of “normal,” the treatment of equivocal results, and Bayesian statistics. Participants will learn how to interpret and report diagnostic tests in the biomedical literature and will practice applying a set of detailed guidelines for reporting various test characteristics.

The instructors are:

  • Tom Lang, author of How to Report Statistics in Medicine: Annotated Guidelines for Authors, Editors, and Reviewers, is an international consultant and educator in medical writing and scientific publications. He teaches for the University of Chicago’s Medical Writing Program and is adjunct professor of biomedical writing at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, as well as past president of the Council of Science Editors, a fellow of the American Medical Writers Association, and treasurer of the World Association of Medical Editors.
  • Bart Harvey, MD, PhD, MEd, FACPM, FRCPC (Community Medicine) is an associate professor with the Department of Family & Community Medicine and the Graduate Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Toronto. He has been the principal or co-author on dozens of papers published in peer-reviewed biomedical journals and has presented peer-reviewed and invited papers at national and international scientific conferences. Dr. Harvey also currently serves as one of 24 investigating coroners for the city of Toronto.

Workshop fees range from $95 to $120 for members and from $195 to $220 for nonmembers. Registration for the all-day event, which costs $55 for members and $95 for nonmembers, includes a continental breakfast and networking lunch. All attendees are invited to sign up to attend a social hour and dinner after the conference at Yan Hunan’s Inn in Waukegan. The registration form and fees must be received by June 22 for the advanced class and by July 6 for the other course offerings.

To received credit toward a certificate, registrants must be enrolled in a curriculum program and submit completed homework by July 2 for the advanced workshop and by July 17 for the other workshops. The core curriculum enrollment fee, good for six years, is $150 for AMWA members and $275 for nonmembers. The advanced curriculum enrollment fee, good for eight years, is $175 for AMWA members and $290 for nonmembers.

Date: Friday, July 31, 2009

Time: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Location: Abbott Laboratories, 200 Abbott Park Road, North Chicago, Ill.

Registration is open now. Details are posted on the GCAC AMWA Web site:

In addition, the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences will administer its certification exam on Saturday, Aug. 1, also at Abbott Laboratories, beginning at 9:00 a.m. Interested applicants must contact the BELS registrar. Details about exam registration are available on the BELS Web site,

To learn more about AMWA’s education program, call 301-294-5303 or visit

About the AMWA

The American Medical Writers Association (AMWA), based in Rockville, Md., was founded in 1940 to promote excellence in medical communication and provide resources to support that goal. Through an extensive educational program, various publications and unparalleled networking opportunities, AMWA enables members to extend their professional expertise.

The Greater Chicago Area Chapter (GCAC) comprises more than 300 biomedical communicators who live and work in Illinois and southern Wisconsin, including over 100 self-employed and freelance members. The chapter’s diverse membership represents biomedical communicators who work for hospitals, health care associations, marketing and public relations agencies, pharmaceutical companies, medical publishing firms, Web publishing venues, and medical schools.

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