In the past months of January and February, students from university campuses all over LA had the opportunity to participate in BCLA’s first Medical Writing Workshop. In this event, participants were asked to write abstracts based on simulated data from a mock clinical study. These abstracts were then evaluated by a team of professional medical writers from Amgen Inc. and the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). On Thursday March 3rd, the workshop was followed up by an online debriefing seminar to give feedback to the group of participants and to provide general information on careers in medical writing.
Jacqueline Sayyah, BCLA team member and medical writer at Amgen, hosted the workshop debriefing. Dr. Sayyah started the discussion by describing the key points that participants would have needed to cover in a real abstract. She also reviewed the criteria that were used to evaluate the clinical abstracts, and showed a histogram of performance breakdown. Most participants met the character limit and had little trouble with structure and grammar. However, common pitfalls included too much background data, a lack of proper subheadings, and safety data.
In addition to receiving feedback on their submitted work, students also had a chance to ask the team of medical writers questions about the medical writing profession. Many of those questions revolved around students’ interest in how to become a medical writer, how to gain experience, and the job application process. The team candidly answered each of these, unanimously suggesting that students read many clinical study reports (CSR) and abstracts, learn medical writing terminology, earn a medical writing certificate, work with a mentor, and ask for opportunities to write in their current position whenever possible. These were each mentioned as potential ways to help bolster one’s prospects for a medical writing career.
Many people participated in the workshop and the debriefing and found it to be a great way to learn more about the medical writing profession. We at BCLA hope you will join us again at our next event!