usbAnother Lesson Learned


I’ve learned many great lessons in life – usually from my mistakes. In fact, I always say I’ve learned more from my mistakes than from anything I ever got right.

This has frequently been the case when it comes to all-things-technology!

My most recent Grrr Moment came from a fried memory stick incident. For about a year, I’d been carrying around a memory stick containing all kinds of wonderful information – typically stuff I would need quick access to at different locations – whether I was working at home, in the office, or working casually at Starbucks. I had a variety of things on it – collections of ideas, interesting articles to read, copies of my old tax returns, writing ideas, partly-written articles for my blog…..things like that.

There was nothing sensitive that caused me any horrific consequences (like unfinished work, or projects that hadn’t been forwarded to clients – I save all current projects on my computer hard drive which is backed up on an external hard drive, as well as in The Cloud). But the memory stick was just my general Go-To Guy, containing a whole bunch of stuff that I was intending to transfer to my hard drive “at some point”.

Then it fried. I distinctly remember sitting at home using my laptop one morning. My memory stick was plugged in, and before my very eyes, the light on the memory stick suddenly went out, and it was no longer being recognized by the laptop.

I tried all kinds of home remedies to revive it, to no avail. Even my IT guru couldn’t resuscitate it. So I had to just accept its loss. Even though there was nothing critical on it, it contained stuff that was helpful to me, so I felt really mad with myself for not transferring everything. Especially as I’d literally spent the year telling myself repeatedly that I’d transfer it to my computer at some point!

Now I have a new Go-To memory stick, and I just transfer everything from it to my computer whenever I update it!

So, if you’re like me, and carrying a handy little memory stick around, learn from my mistake. In the words of the great sportswear company, Just Do It – don’t wait too long!

“Science Careers”, from the Journal Science published this great article today – it’s a content collection comprising links to their best resources on careers in science writing. They all make for interesting reads in general for anyone in the medical communications field, but they’re especially valuable for anyone thinking about transitioning into medical writing.




Image Credit  Digital Art @FreeDigitalPhotos

Inquill is currently hosting a Medical Writing Festival – you can check out the schedule and pricing for the seminars on their site. I don’t know anything about the company, so can’t give any first-hand information about it, or about the festival for that matter. But they do have some very prominent names giving seminars, so even if just one of the talks appeals to you, you may find it worthwhile to register for it – you don’t have to sign up for the whole thing, you can opt to simply buy one seminar if you choose. And maybe you can even buy recordings of past seminars from the start of the festival if one of those catches your eye?

The main reason for me posting this, however, was to share a short video with you. One of the talks is by George Buckland, an experienced medical recruiter – click on this link and play the free 3 minute video clip that is about halfway down the page. He shares some important points about the need for medical writers to have an online presence, as well as sharing information about how he searches for writers.

LinkedIn is one great way to network with recruiters, so if you haven’t yet made yourself a profile there, now is the time to do it – you can use the search box to find recruiters looking for medical writers, as well as by joining medical writing groups where recruiters will often post job ads.


Registration is open for AMWA’s 71st Annual Conference in Jacksonville, FL, October 20th-22nd this year.

If you’re not already a member of AMWA, I’d highly recommend joining.

Cover One Of The Open Sessions

Additionally, you can make the most of your AMWA Annual Conference attendance – AMWA are looking for writers willing to cover one of the 37 open sessions for the AMWA Journal.

Dr. Kristina Wasson-Blader advises AMWA members: “Writing a summary for the Journal will give you a published piece and also bring the conference to those who can’t attend the conference or a particular session. If you are interested in writing for the Journal, send an email to the AMWA Journal Editor at”

Time for Step 7 of the “Beginner’s Medical Writing” series – a step-by-step guide to getting yourself started in freelance medical writing – an extremely basic guide for making the first move into medical writing.

If you’re just arriving, feel free to check out the earlier steps:

The next best step, if you haven’t already jumped the gun and done so, is to join AMWA – the American Medical Writers Association.


The current annual membership fee is $165 ($60 if you’re a student). If you’re hesitant to spend this much money without really knowing what it’s about or what it might be able to do for you, I’d advise checking to see if there’s a local chapter anywhere near you. Local chapters hold meetings throughout the year, and you can still attend these without being a member – you just end up paying about $5 extra on the local meeting fee than members pay.

This way, you can attend a meeting and get to network with some friendly medical writers local to your area – this will certainly help you get a feel for the organization and how you can benefit from it.

So check out their website and at least consider attending a local meeting – I guarantee you’ll feel inspired afterwards!

Time for Step 6 of the “Beginner’s Medical Writing” series – a step-by-step guide to getting yourself started in freelance medical writing – an extremely basic guide for making the first move into medical writing.

If you’re just arriving, feel free to check out the earlier steps:

Back in Step 3 I urged you to consider using some form of social media for your work. This is especially useful for those of you working freelance, but is also helpful even if you’re getting into medical writing and intend to work as a full time employee somewhere.

If you only wanted to use one networking site, LinkedIn would be the one I’d advise. Launched in 2003, this is one of the oldest of the social networks, and is the one most used for business – and it recently stole the spot as 2nd largest social network from MySpace.

The principle behind LinkedIn kind of reminds me of online dating. You create a profile that describes you at your most stellar, and make connections with professionals in similar industries, or anyone who you think could potentially be a useful contact for you.

Advantages Of LinkedIn

  • It’s low-maintenance: With Twitter and Facebook, you need to maintain somewhat of a regular presence to get the best use out of them. With LinkedIn, however, the majority of your effort is required in just setting up your profile. Then it just requires occasional tweaks – inviting new networking connections, adding new employers to your resume, sharing occasional links to useful articles or sites. So it doesn’t require you to do much at all.
  • It’s an online business profile for you: Even if you don’t have a website or blog, you can certainly advertise yourself very effectively on LinkedIn.
  • Job searching:  Not only do many employers advertise vacancies on LinkedIn, but many also search the site for prospective candidates to see if they can cherry-pick someone appropriate for their needs. Another reason to make sure that your profile is as perfect as possible there!


Getting the most out of LinkedIn

  • Create a profile that’s as complete as possible: This is your online resume, so flaunt yourself! Adding as much detail as possible will increase the likelihood that your usefulness can be spotted. LinkedIn also has an option to enable you to upload a pdf version of your resume. Add a photo too – it makes you much more “real”! If you do have a website, blog or a Twitter profile, you can share these on your profile page too. And if you use Twitter, you can activate your settings so that your tweets show up on your profile page.
  • Ask for testimonials: If former colleagues or employers also use LinkedIn, ask them to give you a testimonial on the site. Every little helps.
  • Add connections: Chances are, you’ll already know someone to add to your LinkedIn connections list, so start there! Feel free to connect there with me too. My advice is to gradually add as many people as possible. You’ll find that random people will start sending you invites to connect – and you can do the same too, as you come across more people who you feel might be useful to network with.
  • Join groups: LinkedIn has a group networking facility too – various groups have been set up by other members or organizations, and you simply “request to join” any that take your fancy. For instance, I’ve joined the AMWA group, as well as my local AMWA New England Chapter group (although you have to actually be paid members of AMWA itself to join these on LinkedIn). But there are numerous others such as “Science Writers”. You simply search under “groups” in the search box to see what is available. And another good way to find new groups is to look at which ones your connections have joined – this is displayed on their profile.
  • Share: Once you’ve joined groups, you’ll be able to share links or even just comments for discussion, or questions on their page. If you don’t like the idea of doing this as soon as you join the site, start off by simply joining in on any discussions that pop up. That way you’ll be unofficially introducing yourself gradually, and soon you’ll feel better about sharing something with the group. Even something as simple as sharing a useful site or article that you come across can be helpful for others there.
  • Job search: The search box allows you to search for jobs too. Many companies are now advertising their vacancies on LinkedIn, so it’s a great place to network. Also, recruiters will often post jobs on the discussion board of some group pages, so that’s another good source of positions.


Some Useful LinkedIn Links!

Miriam Salpeter is one of my favorite online job coaches, and her blog contains a lot if useful material about social networking for business.

I also came across this free, downloadable chapter of her book: “Social Networking For Career Success” which has some useful information in it for using LinkedIn.

And hot off the press, I just discovered How To Get Around In LinkedIn (via Twitter!).

So go ahead, set up your profile on LinkedIn, and please feel free to join me thereAnd if it all seems like a lot of work to do at once, why not just devote 20 minutes each day to it until you’ve completed it?


“Taste Buds” is my way of sharing recipes (that are at least vaguely healthy) with those of you who are:

  • Busy
  • Food lovers
  • Always looking for some new, easy, & (somewhat) nutritious recipe
Here are this week’s 3 options:

Time for Step 5 of the “Beginner’s Medical Writing” series – a step-by-step guide to getting yourself started in freelance medical writing – an extremely basic guide for making the first move into medical writing.

If you’re just arriving, feel free to check out the earlier steps:


Back in Step 3 I mentioned the benefits of considering some aspect of social networking when you start up in medical writing – I think this is really useful whether you are considering freelance work, or if you are a full time employee somewhere.

I thought I’d give Twitter a plug today. I never thought I’d use Twitter – socially I’ve used Facebook for a couple of years, and whenever I’d hear people talk about Twitter, I just didn’t “get” it – I couldn’t wrap my head around how it operated, or what use it could possibly be.



A few friends who use it for business had told me I should definitely give it a go. I resisted the idea for a few months, but then decided to try it out – what harm could it do? If all else failed, surely I could abandon it, and at least know I’d tried?

So I joined a couple of months ago, and I love it!


How Does It Work?

Twitter is basically a service for sending and receiving status updates – so if you’ve used Facebook, you’ll be used to writing and reading these short communications. Twitter’s short communications, however, are capped at 140 characters (letters, periods, dashes, etc).

So it makes for a great way to get a short message out to people: “Free coffee at the cafeteria, 2-4pm”, or maybe a link to a cool photo. And for business purposes, people often use it to share links to web pages – whether something useful that they came across and want to share, or a link to their personal site to share an article, announcement, or product.

Due to the 140 character cap, you have to not only get creative in how you make your announcement sometimes, but you also need to shorten your weblink, otherwise this will quickly eat into your 140 characters. There are numerous applications that you can use to shorten your links (you can do a Google search to find one that you prefer), but I use bitly – it’s very simple to use:

  • Copy and paste your desired weblink into the search box
  • Hit the “shorten” button to the right of the box
  • A shortened link will magically appear
  • Copy & paste this into the Twitter text box
  • Add a short accompanying message before tweeting


Why Join?

I was skeptical, I just didn’t see how useful it would be – I thought it sounded quite bizarre, all these “status updates”! What use could that possibly be!? But I have been very pleasantly surprised. It’s been a wonderful way for me to meet up online with other medical and freelance writers, other medical professionals, blogs, and organizations that I feel are useful to follow.

So I’d urge you to give it a go – and like I decided for myself previously – if you don’t like it, you can abandon mission. Join up today – come up with a short Twitter handle (that’s basically your username – it’ll have a “@” preceding it) – mine is @ParryMedWriting – don’t worry too much about choosing the perfect Twitter handle, you can always change it later if you feel like.


Some Useful Guides To Using Twitter

Rather than go on ad nauseum on how to use Twitter (and I’m still getting the hang of it myself!), here are some links to very useful articles that describe it much more concisely than I could!


The Beginner’s Guide To Twitter

The Writer’s Guide To Twitter

How To Use Hashtags

6 Tools To Grow Your Twitter Network

How To Get Noticed On Twitter


Hope to see you over at Twitter!




Fleas are no longer a summertime problem – they can bother your pet all year round, thanks to our cosy, centrally-heated homes that allow flea eggs to incubate and hatch, even in the winter.

I’ve written some articles for the HappyTails Canine Spa, so if you want to control fleas, make it a two-sided attack on the animal as well as his environment.



There are many varieties of flea control products available for cats and dogs now – your veterinarian can advise you on which is best for your pet (especially if he has developed problems such as secondary pyoderma due to flea allergy dermatitis). But if you have a dog and love trying natural products, check out the online store while you’re over at HappyTails they have some wonderful products!





Thought I’d share some short YouTube videos for those of you who are thinking about branching into medical writing.



These medical writers provide some insight into their work, as well as some tips on which areas might suit you best:


The Art Of Medical Writing

How To Get Into Medical Writing

Starting A Career in Medical Writing

Freelance Medical Writing

A Few Words About Life In MedComms