Welcome to the online home of the Medical Writing Institute.
We started out at MJoTA.org and moved partly to DrSusanna.org and to a Facebook page, Medical Writing Institute. Articles, videos, and links continue to be added and updated on MJoTA.org and DrSusanna.org.
On MJoTA.org are the syllabi for the three courses that make up the Certificate of Medical Writing of the Medical Writing Institute: health communications click here, regulatory documents click here, business click here. We additionally award the Certificate of Medical Affairs to members who have demonstrated understanding of regulations and processes in the development and marketing of drugs, devices and biologics click here.
Sep 06th, 2019 Writing Stories
Telling stories is important in every part of the life of a working professional. We tell stories about our health to medical and dental professionals, to friends in religious, political and activist communities about how we arrived at our understanding of what it means to act with humanity. In fiction writing we are free to tell the truth in a manner that can be impossible in non-fiction writing.
Summer in the Philadelphia side of New Jersey is glorious: gardens and parks filled with marigolds, black-eyed susans, purple heather, red, yellow roses, myrtle trees, blue and pink hydrangea, lilies – all on my street and in my garden. When I broke my leg in Zambia in 2016 my gardening stopped, and flowers and trees appeared that I had not planted, and did not remove. Queen Anne lace, broad-leaf plantains. My son had pulled out a lot of ivy the previous year, until I saw the mass of plants growing tall where previously ivy had been lying flat, I did not understand the importance and containment of ivy. You may not want ivy, may not like ivy, but it stops your garden from becoming over-run. I am understanding that humans are like that, we may not like some forms of government, maybe all forms of government, but government that stops enabling behavior by humans who lack any form of empathy is a good government.
During my bicycle rides to the local swimming pool or train and bus rides to volunteer in PHLUnity Cup soccer games I have carried with me a copy of Thomas Keneally’s Schindler’s List which was first published as Schindler’s Ark. A thick book, which I have been able to read at the pace of about 2 pages at a time. Thomas Keneally has won the Booker Prize, spent years training as a Roman Catholic priest, and has a hyper-developed sense of empathy, decency, and the inevitability of moral failing. The story follows the survival of a group of Jews in Krakow because of the intervention of a German industrialist who knew cold-blooded murder was wrong.
What is pertinent to this current discussion is that the book is published as fiction. Which it had to be. Because although Mr Keneally had pages and pages of notes of eye-witnesses, constructing a readable story meant that he had to occasionally build a small bridge to get from one part to another, by which I mean make things up.
Another work of fiction I have been reading is 1914, which describes the disastrous entrance of Russia into fighting in the 1914-1918 world war and was written by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, basing it on experiences of his family members before he was born. Mr Solzhenitsyn also wrote Cancer Ward. Did I learn anything about cancer from it? Yes indeed.
I would like to see a lot more medical fiction, written by professionals who both know how to tell stories, and who understand the underlying science of cause, diagnosis, disease progression, treatment, outcome and statistical likelihood of survival.. So many subjects. I have been horrified for most of my life by the lack of understanding of how to take antibiotics, when to accept the warnings of health professionals because your life will be shortened or you will be permanently disabled if you do not, and when to reject it because their warnings are not in line with anything that makes sense clinically or physiologically.
I am very happy to discuss projects with you, and willing to find you an editor, or if I am really excited about a project, edit it myself.
May 10th, 2019. Where to publish
I read a long, thoughtful article in The Guardian about how medical journal publishers are making billions thanks to successful grant applications and academic promotions being tied to publications in prestige journals. Read it by following this link click here.
A lot of changes since my first article was published in 1974, and a lot of constants. The constants are that results and discussion of laboratory findings need to be published, and the career of scientists and academics depend on this. The changes are that publishing has been privatized, and is out of the hands of the scientists producing and analyzing the data, and the readers. Any attempts to take control of publishing is roundly criticized, with a derogatory term widely disseminated about journals attempting to be a rapidly publishing conduit: predatory journals.
Published findings used to be verified both by unpaid reviewers who had enormous power over competitors by voting up or down on a submitted manuscript, and by competing laboratories replicating experimental results. Personally, I prefer to forgo the unpaid reviewers, and let everything be published that is logically presented.
The original idea behind MJoTA was to publish original research using an external reviewer model; that quickly became untenable. MJoTA remains open to publishing original work that is well-written. If you have research and need help assembling it and editing it, our Medical Writing Institute fellows will help you.
July 11th, 2018. Vitamins and health
Extremely unethical: publishing large clinical study results in paywall journals, giving access only to media with large readership where stories are assigned to journalists with little understanding of statistics or health science, or to healthcare professionals who have little understanding of the tenets of ethical writing and its effects on the health of so many.
This time, the journal made the article freely available, but I had trouble finding it. The articles I read online, including from The Times of London, made it sound as if a longitudinal study was made by a large group of health professionals. Not at all. A healthcare professional organized published articles on the benefits of vitamins on stopping you from dropping dead of heart disease and prepared a review of these articles, calling it a meta-analysis.
Headlines today included: “Vitamin pills don’t prevent heart attacks, study shows”, The Times of London; worse was ” Vitamins won’t prevent a heart attack or make you live longer: study” from Global News. The articles that I read, and the story was carried widely throughout North America and Europe, was that vitamin supplementation is a ripoff.
Pages on this site:
How to enroll in the Medical Writing Institute click here
Medical Writing Institute works with you to get you jobs and contracts click here
Hire a Medical Writing Institute medical writer or medical editor click here
Writing a focused resume click here
Writing about diseases click here
How to prepare a talk click here
How to prepare a primary data manuscript for a medical journal click here
How to write an article for a literature review or data review for a medical journal click here
Regulatory authorities click here
How do you know if your student wrote the assignment or paid someone to write it click here
Why Africa? click here
Is this the job you want in the international health industry? click here
Do not abuse medical writers click here
June 5th, 2018. The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) gathered in Chicago to discuss what works, and what does not work, in treating those of us afflicted with cancer.
I generally have found that cancer meetings and treatments are all over the place, with those afflicted told to “seek second opinions” or third opinions, which suggests that few have any idea what works and does not work, and if anyone survives they were lucky. This perception is wrong, but because cancer plays by its own rules, and scientists and healthcare professionals have not figured out all the rules, some afflicted live years after a cancer diagnosis, perhaps the third opinion was the right one, and others, like my father (prostate cancer), my German mother-in-law (lung cancer), my neighbors (liver cancer, lung cancer, brain cancer) – I can go on and on – die rapidly.
What we know with absolute certainty is the best treatment for cancer is not getting it. ASCO publishes guidelines, and abstracts from their meeting, cancer scientists are slowly understanding more of the rules which is highly encouraging. https://meetinglibrary.asco.org/collections/asco-collections/43069
February 21, 2018. The Medical Writing Institute is hard at work preparing three short textbooks. We need input from life scientists and health professionals who are working medical writers, or aspiring medical writers, mentorees, past and present, and friends of the Medical Writing Institute.
The textbooks will list as authors anyone who works on these books, please contact Dr Dodgson if you are interested.
We are looking at publishing in late spring at least the first book, as a print book, and possibly the second or third. We are also seeking friends, fellows, members and mentorees of the Medical Writing Institute writing your own short print books for this series.
On February 12, 2018, a call for proposals for a small grant of $5,000 was published. The proposer needs to be a researcher, but does not have to be affiliated to an institution. Preparing this proposal would be a wonderful exercise for anyone associated with the Medical Writing Institute. Please contact me if this is something you would like to work on, if you are, I will work with you on it https://gtn-learning.org/news/2018-02-12/growth-through-nutrition-announces-call-proposals-small-research-grant-program
Rules for writing for humans click here
Medical Writing Institute has added an online quiz to its Survey Monkey account. The main purpose is for MWI Medical Writing and Medical Affairs Certifcates students to guage their progress, but they are open to everyone. I love doing quizzes, I do them all! I hope you enjoy learning how much you know, and finding out gaps that need to be filled, click here.
The Medical Writing Institute has been reaching out to universities in Asia: we are very happy to work with you on lab sciences and clinical manuscripts for PLoS, JAMA, Nature, J Biol Chem, J Appl Phyiol. All journals. Our members and fellows have worked on manuscripts for these journals and more. Our rates are competitive but not stupid; all work will be done by health and science professionals. MWI does not take a cut. Ever.
If all you really need is editing for grammar, we have members and fellows with science and health qualifications who primarily focus on editing, who will do that for you and send you back beautiful manuscripts with a cover letter ready to submit for publication.
The Medical Writing Institute’s members include clinical trial experts who have worked on all aspects of clinical trials, including getting the funding, preparing protocols and getting them approved, setting up clinical trials, programming and statistics. We can send experts to help you set up a clinical trial.
MJoTA.org started out as the online home of the Medical Journal of Therapeutics Africa, which started publication on January 15, 2007, as a class exercise for medical writing students. It still has that function: we will publish articles by professionals who have a career as a medical writer, or want one.
DrSusanna.org started life as MJoTA Under Attack, when MJoTA was being sued for $20 million in Brooklyn Federal Court by a woman who claims her father, when a small boy, rose from the dead after 3 days. She decided she really did not like me, and because she had a law license, she sued me, claiming I had published emails and articles making up a sexual affair with a New York newspaper publisher, when all she ever liked to do was pray and fast. I had not published anything, I did not know she was up to anything with anyone, nor did I care, but then the publisher provided 500 pages of proof of their relationship, and a simultaneous relationship with another man, oh my. Then a Kenyan living in an apartment in Minnesota, claiming to build university cities in Nigeria and Kenya joined her, suing me in Minnesota, because he really did not like me either.
What made the whole nonsense spectacular was that the daughter of the raised-from-the-dead-boy served me papers at an event for Africans for Bloomberg, in Mayor Bloomberg’s campaign headquarters in New York. And hit me on the face with my own camera.
So I was feeling a little sorry for myself, which vanished after I spent 6 glorious weeks home in Australia with my wonderful brothers, who have never, and will never, understand why I chose to live in America. So the URL became DrSusanna.org.
My accuser? She was ordained, awarded a PhD in criminal justice, started a church in her expensive house in Westbury, New York. Ah. The cases were all thrown out because federal, state and local courts in the United States of America are not run like reality shows. For which I am truly grateful.
I have far too much hyperactivity, Asperger’s, and scientific training to publish a website only about myself, although I find my relatives endlessly fascinating (some of them made international headlines with their deaths, and with their lives click here), and so I decided to post pages that teach about human rights issues and about African countries. And countries connected to Africa. And Caribbean countries. And New York. And Philadelphia… Six years of posting pages on DrSusanna.org. Lots of videos, audio casts, photographs…
Meanwhile I wanted a site for my publishing company: that is EmeraldPademelonPress.com. And one for issues focused on peace, that is PeaceScientists.org. Five websites are enough for now, let us hope for a long time.
Anyway, back to medical writing. I care passionately about medical writing, health communication, scientific translation, whatever you want to call it. Because good folks make decisions that impact their health, and their lives, depending on what they read, hear, and see.
The mission of the Medical Writing Institute is to train professionals to write accurately and ethically. And if you do not understand the science, do not write it, please partner with someone who does understand it. Nothing is worse than important clinical trials interpreted by an English major who has not understood why, how and what happened in the trial, but has written a beautiful piece of nonsense.
I have found that training in journalism and philosophy are excellent bases for careers in medical writing. But only if you stay curious, find out everything you do not know, learn everything about a disease from the molecule to the deathbed. Medical writing teachers have told me that teaching a humanities major about life sciences and medicine is easier than teaching writing to a scientist or a physician. The main take-home message is that you can make a good living with a job that requires excellent medical writing if you are humble and accept knowledge and training from reputable sources.
And I firmly believe that medical writers hold keys to fixing climate change. Because that is a health issue. Parasites that kill us and other life that sustain us can thrive or die when water stops or floods or swirls around. And war is a health issue. Nothing stops health quicker than being shot or blown up. And education is a health issue.
Pages on other MJoTA sites:
The Medical Writing Institute trains science and health professionals in medical writing. We help you build your portfolio and give you the skills you need to market yourself for a career in the pharmaceutical industry as a medical writer or other professional. We will also tell you if a career as a medical writer is not for you, and direct you elsewhere.
All training is online when you enroll in the Medical Writing Institute directly. Faculty members are fluent in a number of Asian and European languages and will give onsite training throughout Asia, Europe, South America and the United States of America.
Award of a Medical Writing Institute Certificate requires proof that you understand the science behind disease and injury, drugs, devices, biologics and vaccines; that you understand statistical evidence; how experimental and observational data are published; can prepare grant and business proposals; know and your way around databases, and that you are nimble and accurate with language.
If you can read all the documents, with all the videos, complete all the assignments and pass all the exams in 10 weeks, then you will be awarded your certificate. If you do not pass, you will continue receiving instruction until you do. Applicants to the Medical Writing Institute are only accepted if they have a definite probability of achieving their goals, and really want to.
Medical writing is hard, more a marathon than a sprint.
Medical writing training overview click here
The Medical Writing Institute. SJ Dodgson MJoTA 2017 v11n2p0707
To contact the director, Dr Dodgson, firstname.lastname@example.org