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Inaugural presidential address.

As I have often said, I am among the least qualified to do what I do for a living. But then, most of us are unqualified in one way or another. If you're not currently in your 20s or perhaps your early 30s, you probably did not graduate knowing you would become a professional medical communicator. Rather, the door swung wide or opportunity knocked-or you got pushed off a cliff, and here you are. Here we all are, in AMWA.

When I attended my first annual conference in Baltimore in 1995, I was intimidated, surrounded by people with more letters after their name than I have in my name. A man walked up to me, affixed an adhesive apple to my name badge (which was the way new members were identified back then), cupped my face in his hands, and planted a big wet one on my cheek. Then he smiled and exclaimed "Welcome to AMWA!" That man, a leader and real character of AMWA at the time, immediately became a dear friend, and thanks to him, I knew I was home.

Your first experiences may have been a little different. But we have all found our way to AMWA, found our home in AMWA. Over the years I like to think I have become pretty successful, and I have AMWA to thank for that. The unequalled education program. The selflessness and generosity of members. The camaraderie and networking, and the sharing of experiences and horror stories. This is what the AMWA experience is all about. Within 5 years of my joining AMWA, people were telling me (or was that, warning me?) that I would one day be president. But given the chance, I will always run with scissors, so today I stand before you. I am humbled, grateful, excited, and the only reason you can see me behind this lectern is because I am standing on the shoulders of giants.

One year ago today as the AMWA meeting calendar goes, Doug Haneline took his place at the helm and continued to pilot this ship forward as so many presidents have done before him. Doug outlined our plans and initiatives for the coming year. As Doug mentioned in his welcome address at this conference, AMWA has made great strides this year-the work of many volunteers and a dedicated and talented staff. We have made vital and long-overdue improvements to our infrastructure so we can continue to move boldly into the future. We have enhanced member resources and are on the precipice of more exciting enhancements that will expand our educational and product offerings, and extend our reach. We have improved our internal and external communications, furthered AMWA's commitment to serving as a beacon for our profession, and made important strides in our effort to launch certification by 2015. As president, I will continue to steer our ship into the future.

But the future means change, and change isn't always easy. The thing about change is, it happens to all of us every day. You just get comfortable with your smartphone and they change a perfectly good operating system into something you no longer recognize. You have to upgrade a perfectly good version of Word because your 7-year-old computer died and your old software won't run on your new computer. Heck, there isn't even a CD drive to load it! One thing I've learned by being a business owner for the past 24 years is that you can get behind change and follow wherever it goes, you can get in and steer it where you want to go, or you can get in front of it and get run over. There's no stopping it.

The challenge, and the beauty, of AMWA, is that this is not an organization we just belong to. We own it. We have a personal stake in AMWA. And when something changes, we take it personally. It's not a matter of "What are you doing to AMWA?" It's a matter of "What are you doing to my AMWA?" Well, here's what we're doing. We're working tirelessly to make our educational program-the gem in our crown-both relevant and accessible in a world that demands 24/7/365 access to whatever it wants. We're working tirelessly to make sure AMWA addresses the ever-evolving needs of its members while also attracting and keeping new members. And we're working tirelessly to make the member experience as great as it can be for everyone, as diverse as that is.

This process is not perfect. At the start of my Creative Process workshop I tell participants, "If you can't make a mistake, you can't make anything." It's an iterative process. Every day, scores of volunteers and an amazingly small staff of super-humans work together for the benefit of AMWA. Sometimes we're going to make mistakes, but that's how we're going to make progress.

Progress is nothing without relevance. We can't afford to change for the sake of change. That's where all of you come in. We need your continued feedback. Your input. A heads-up when something isn't working quite right. And an acknowledgment when things do work right wouldn't hurt. We need your partnership, which means talking about solutions, not just problems. To do that we need open, honest, productive, and respectful discourse so we can continue to grow without losing what brought us to AMWA, what brought us together, in the first place.

I look forward to working with you, and to serving you, this coming year.

Author contact: bam509@optonline.net

By Brian Bass, 2013-2014 AMWA President

* This article is based on the address delivered at the AMWA Annual Business Meeting, November 9,2013, Columbus, Ohio.
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Title Annotation:Brian Bass
Publication:American Medical Writers Association Journal
Article Type:Speech
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2013
Words:945
Previous Article:What did we do in 2013?
Next Article:Quarterly update from the Medical Writing Certification Commission.
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