Needs Assessment? What’s that?

October 19, 2012

At networking events or in conversations with other medical and science writers, when I say, “I write continuing medical education including needs assessments” before I can finish my sentence about slide sets, review articles, and monographs, the other person often says, “What’s a needs assessment?” After describing needs assessments many times, I thought it was time for a blog post.

Needs Assessments: The Basics

  • Part of a larger grant for obtaining funding ¬†for continuing medical education programs from pharmaceutical companies or other funding sources
  • The foundation upon which the entire educational program is built
  • Outlines current physician or nursing practices
  • Defines optimal physician or nursing practices
  • Highlights the gaps between current and optimal practices
  • The gaps support the need for education
  • Provides learning objectives based on gaps for the proposed educational program
  • Lists appropriate faculty for the activity

In the future, I will periodically provide posts with tips for writing needs assessments. Can you think of anything I missed in describing the basics of a needs assessment? Let me know in the comments section.


AMWA Annual Conference: Worth its Weight in Gold

October 14, 2012

I have been home from the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) annual conference in Sacramento for a week now, and I am still flying high from everything I learned and all of the new friends and contacts I made. When I was starting out as a medical writer, I asked other medical writers whether or not the AMWA annual conference was worth the money. I got wishy-washy responses from the few people I asked, but after 2 years of attending myself, I can say with a resounding yes that it is worth it.

What you will gain from attending the conference in the future:

  • You will meet many other friendly and welcoming medical writers (to me, this is the best part)
  • Whether your are a newbie or veteran, you will learn ways to improve your writing and/or editing
  • The Keynote Speaker is always well worth seeing (
  • Several networking events provide opportunities to exchange business cards with other writers and editors
  • Breakfast Roundtables allow you to learn from other medical writers in a small group setting
  • Open Sessions are included in the registration fee, and the speakers are experts on their topics
  • Workshops are excellent educational opportunities whether or not you are working towards an AMWA certificate
  • If you are unable to make your regional chapter meetings because you live too far away, you will be able to meet other members from your chapter
  • If you are a freelancer, you will leave with a variety of ideas for your business