Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy (Green) New Year!

As hard as it is to believe, the holiday decorations have been taken down (or are fading), and new year's resolutions have been written (and hopefully not yet broken). If you don't have "Be More Green" on your list of resolutions, you should, and the December issue of the AMWA Journal is specially designed to help you keep that resolution.

A green theme runs throughout the current issue of the Journal, with a wealth of tips to help you save a bit of our environment while working more efficiently. Articles in the issue focus on how technology is helping to reduce those mounds of paper and to conserve other types of resources. Regulatory writing has seen this effect of technology, and the Regulatory Insights section describes the evolution from paper to electronic submission of regulatory documents.

Technology also brings us closer to each other, allowing us to work, network, and learn regardless of geographic distances. Telecommuting is an option offered by many employers these days, and Meredith Rogers, an "experienced" telecommuter, describes the joys (and woes) of telecommuting in a Practical Matters article. In the Social Media section, Cyndy Kryder relays stories of members who found success (ie, work!) through social networking sites, and elsewhere in the issue, David Caldwell describes how using podcasts can expand the reach of your chapter events. You haven't podcasted yet? Don't despair, a new AMWA Pocket Training on podcasting will be available this month.

Using less paper is perhaps the easiest way to be green. If you still use a hard copy résumé or CV and writing samples, take a look at Cheryl Lathrop's article on how to develop an electronic portfolio. Sharing your samples this way not only saves paper but also allows you to be creative in highlighting your experience or accomplishments.

To learn more about how to make your office paperless—or at least have less paper—check out the Freelance Forum, where our resident freelance experts talk about their versions of the paperless office. As medical writers, we often use a great deal of paper during research and source documentation. Why not read the reprinted article on creating a paperless office (thank you, International Journal of Clinical Practice), which provides advice on how to gather references and store them as electronic documents, helping to reduce the clutter in your office while saving trees. (If you're worried about how to use electronic files for source documentation, read Tim Peoples' article "An Electronic Method for Confirming Documentation," which was published in a previous issue of the Journal.)

You can learn more about being green and green initiatives by checking out the LinkedIn Groups and blogs noted in the Social Media section and the Web sites described in Web Wanderings. Also, in his summary of the (outstanding) 2011 AMWA Annual Conference, Steve Palmer lists several ways AMWA headquarters has gone green.

If you're already green enough, you still need to read the December issue because you will find additional valuable information. You'll find summaries of the invited lectures and several of the open sessions at the 2011 Annual Conference. (More summaries will be published in the March 2012 issue.) You can also read about AMWA members who were recognized with awards in 2011 and learn the steps to AMWA fellowship. The issue also features original research on the effect of editing on time to manuscript acceptance, and offers the debut of a new section—CME Rising. With the addition of this new section, the Journal now addresses the needs of the three greatest factions of AMWA membership: medical communicators in the regulatory, freelance, and continuing medical education settings.

Sadly, the December issue also marks the end of reign of our queen of medical word usage. Our Dear Edie column ends with thank you notes to Edie for more than 30 years of answering our grammar and usage questions. No words can convey our appreciation for her knowledge, humor, and commitment over the past decades.

If you need more inspiration for resolutions, review my list of new year's resolutions from last year. That blog post drew one of the biggest audiences, which can mean only one thing—medical communicators are dedicated to professional development! I'm pleased to report that I kept many of those resolutions in 2011—well, for varying lengths of time. I can definitely do better, and that's my resolution for 2012. My other resolutions for this year? To continue to improve the Journal during 2012, my last year at the helm (more on that in an upcoming post), and to post blog entries on a more regular schedule. I encourage you to make reading the Journal and the Journal blog one of your resolutions. Make that resolution greener by signing up to get the Journal online only.

Happy new year!