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Asking the Right Questions: Developing Better Discovery Skills

This article was originally published in the AMWA Journal.

All of us have suffered the consequences of expensive, unasked questions in both our professional lives and our personal lives. As medical communicators, we must ask good questions to elicit information, but many of us lack adequate training in this skill. Add to that the natural reticence of some medical communicators, and it is no wonder that we walk away from interviews with subject matter experts or client meetings wishing we had remembered to ask X, Y, or Z. This article offers information as to why questions are so important, what types of questions are useful, how to strategize your questions, how to handle people answering the questions you ask them, and how to answer questions that others ask you.

December 16, 2019 at 8:00 AM

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6 Steps to Writing Health Content That Moves People

This article is based on content presented by Debbie Dakins and  Colleen Cronin, at the AMWA Medical Writing & Communication Conference. It was originally published in the AMWA Journal.

You’ve heard the phrase “Put words into action”? Well that, my friends, is what I’m going to attempt to do here. In this recap of the 2016 AMWA conference presentation “Six Steps to Writing Content That Moves People,” I will try to apply what I learned from Debbie Dakins and Colleen Cronin’s tips to help writers create informational materials for the general public that can inspire and motivate people to make changes to improve their health and wellbeing.

December 2, 2019 at 8:00 AM

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What Are Soft Skills and Why Are They Important?

This article was originally published in the AMWA Journal.

You can write. That’s why they want you. You have experience writing the types of materials they need: regulatory documents, continuing medical education activities, promotional education materials, journal articles. That’s why they want you. You specialize in the central nervous system or metabolic disorders or cancer, and you know all the regulations and guidelines and American Medical Association style rules. That’s why they want you. This experience and training, and these skills, are the technical proficiencies you possess.

November 18, 2019 at 8:00 AM

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The Medical Writer’s Role in Promoting Shared Decision Making

This article is based on content presented by Kathi Whitman, MA, at the AMWA Medical Writing & Communication Conference. It was originally published in the AMWA Journal.

Imagine your loved one has been newly diagnosed with a chronic disease such as end-stage renal disease, breast cancer, or obstructive sleep apnea. Owing to the stressful diagnosis, your loved one may have trouble taking in new information and choosing among numerous treatment options within a limited time. Can your medical writing skills help this difficult process?

November 4, 2019 at 8:00 AM

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3 Questions to Ask Yourself When Writing for Lay Audiences

As medical writers, the heart of our work is to convey information to a specific audience. Writing for patients, we are trusted with interpreting highly technical information to educate, protect, enable, and empower our readers. The result of poor understanding can be directly harmful to health. However, successfully informing patients leads to better health outcomes, including more preventative care and fewer hospitalizations.

In this post I offer 3 questions that will help you use plain language effectively and successfully when writing for lay audiences.

October 28, 2019 at 1:30 PM

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Best Practices in Writing Test Items

This article is based on content presented by Lori L. Alexander, MTPW, ELS, MWC, at the AMWA Medical Writing & Communication Conference. It was originally published in the AMWA Journal.

Continuing medical education credits are often awarded based on answers to test questions, so it is essential that the questions be designed well.

Research shows, however, that “almost half of all test items have flaws,” said veteran continuing medical education writer and editor Lori Alexander. This problem is driving the need to develop better test items and is creating job opportunities for medical writers and editors. In this open session, she explained how to write test items using guidelines and best practices from the National Board of Medical Examiners and the American Board of Internal Medicine.

October 21, 2019 at 8:00 AM

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