Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Time Travel at the AMWA Conference

by Deb Whippen

AMWA attendees like their history; that’s my takeaway from watching them linger in front of the poster about the association’s 70-year history at this year’s annual conference. Each attendee who stands, absorbing the AMWA’s historical timeline and seminal moments, is an advertisement about the association’s accomplishments. And they make the poster look appealing. During a quiet moment, I walk over from my exhibit booth and browse. There’s the first meeting I attended, in 1989, in my then-hometown of Boston. That first year for me I was lucky enough to choose to attend Edie Schwager’s English Usage and Abusage workshop. I remember being impressed by her, a small, chirpy woman who showed us funny grammar errors made indelible in plastic-covered newspaper pages. She impressed upon us that we were word warriors who could do better! And that AMWA would teach us how.

AMWA was already almost 50 years old when I joined. By joining, I became part of an organization that had an established mission of providing education for medical communicators. That’s the same reality for those who join AMWA today. My career in medical publications has taken me many places and this year I find myself at the meeting as a first-time exhibitor, promoting my own publishing company and a newly published book for medical writers. I have learned a lot from the many conversations I’ve had with attendees while they stand on the other side of my exhibitor table, talking over the books and materials published since starting my business five years ago.

But maybe my biggest takeaway from this year’s conference is that AMWA is malleable in meeting its members needs. Its resources are indeed its members and the actualization of the association’s commitment to education. AMWA is also a successful trade organization in that it represents the professional collective voice about the reality and interests of medical writers.

My ability to participate this year as an exhibitor, a chapter president, a breakfast roundtable leader, and an attendee who reads posters reaffirms to me that no matter where I am in my work life, AMWA is a resource for me and my career.

Bravo, AMWA!

Related post:
AMWA: Celebrating 70 Years of Medical Communication Excellence

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