« Events Archive

How AMWA Helped My Career

Cherie Dewar

Hummingbird Medical Communications

As a mother of two who could see the light at the end of the toddler-time tunnel, I was seeking a new challenge. For the past five years I had been freelance writing for a parenting newsletter, and, before motherhood, I had worked at the bench in biochemistry. I wondered to myself, "How could I combine my love of writing with my science background?" A friend told me about AMWA, which turned out to be the ideal vehicle to launch my second career as a freelance medical writer.

After attending some local chapter events to query AMWA members about medical writing, I signed up for the 2007 National AMWA conference in Dallas, TX. The lecture selections were exciting, and it took me a few hours to sift through all the choices of roundtables, workshops, and open sessions. The "How to launch your freelance career" and "Business aspects of freelance" workshops filled me in on how to establish a company by filling out a "Do Business As" form, and how to start a portfolio of medically-based writing samples by volunteering to cover a health seminar for my local paper. This was all very helpful, but I unexpectedly found my first big "break" at a roundtable breakfast regarding medical journalism. During the breakfast, I asked questions about confirming quotations and where one could find work as a medical journalist. Afterwards, another participant at the table informed me that her company was looking for writers. We exchanged cards and a few months later her organization assigned me my first writing project.

Additional networking at this conference brought about a second client. Being that it was my first conference, I met with a conference coach. After the conference we continued to email each other, and a few months later my coach referred me to a friend of hers who was an editor at a medical newsmagazine. With my coach's recommendation, the editor assigned me some projects, and has continued to over the years.

I will always be grateful to AMWA for giving me the ability to start a rewarding second career. The key has been to regularly attend my local chapter's networking events and the national conferences, which I do every other year. You never know whom you will meet and what doors they may open up!