Seminars for Professional Writing, Speaking and Teaching Skills

The Carver College of Medicine is proud to offer practical courses on professional communication and teaching skills for academic physicians and researchers. Courses are offered in half-day, full-day and series formats, and are tailored to the particular content and learning needs of the participants.

Our presenters are flexible with regards to finding the ideal time to meet with your group, even if that means early mornings, weekends or a faculty professional development retreat.

Courses and descriptions are below. Other topics are available by arrangement. Groups are encouraged to consider the course menu and design formats that best fit their members' needs and goals. Please contact the Office of Faculty Affairs and Development at CCOM-OFAD@uiowa.edu with your suggestions, questions or concerns.

Writing Course Offerings

Writing for Publication

A clear and reasoned presentation of ideas is critical to the success of a scientific manuscript. This seminar examines the structures and positions of emphasis in the sentence, paragraph, and sections of the formal study to help authors authorize their claims. Addresses how to deconstruct an article and use it as a guide to inform manuscripts for submission. Includes a test of reasoning that authors can apply to the articles they read and the papers they write. 

The session also addresses how authors can use writing as a tool for thinking, as well as how to implement a systematic approach to the writing process to improve the content and presentation of data and ideas. Includes suggestions about how to address the needs of the reviewers, editors, and readers of a journal to maximize your chances of publication.

Writing Grant Applications

This course reviews the principles of good grant writing to produce clear, direct, and compelling proposals. Focuses on understanding the psychology of reviewers and the review process, how to engage readers and facilitate understanding, and how to manage the proposal writing process. Suggests proposal templates. Includes exercises related to specific elements of a proposal, particularly the Specific Aims page.

Provides specific direction on how to best organize and format NIH applications for reader accessibility and impact, including information on

  • Assessing an institute or grantor’s priorities
  • Deconstructing RFAs, application instructions, project descriptions, model grant applications
  • Emphasizing the significance, innovation, and health-relatedness of your project
  • Facilitating reader accessibility
  • Taking advantage of the natural positions of emphasis in the sentence and paragraph
  • Designing and integrating clear and purposeful tables and figures
  • Using subheadings, numbering systems, and figure legends effectively
  • Telling the story and using other journalistic conventions
  • Selling the idea in an objective way in order to establish and maintain scientific integrity
  • Networking with colleagues, collaborators, consultants, mentors, and NIH program officers
  • Using the reviewer critique criteria as “sentence starters” for the information you need to include
Powerful Posters

This course demonstrates the most effective ways to format and present information in a poster. Stresses the options that authors have to emphasize the visual presentation of their information and ideas. Provides direction on developing headings, formatting text, choosing colors, and adjusting the overall layout so that it engages viewers.

The session also addresses ways to facilitate discussion at the poster session itself and how to prepare and deliver a 1-minute overview of a study or program.

Writing Effective Personal Statements 

A course that reviews writing strategies that engage readers and help emphasize your story in a personal statement or NIH biosketch. Addresses how to frame your background, present, and your vision in a way that is integrated with your work or the project your propose. Identifies ways to stress the importance and significance of your ideas.

How to Write a Compelling NIH Specific Aims Page

This course addresses how to organize and what to include in a specific aims page of an NIH grant application for maximum reader accessibility and understanding. Discusses how to engage the reviewer, what information belongs where, effective use of subheadings and sentence starters, and how best to include a figure. 

How to Write an Integrated NIH Biosketch 

Your biosketch is an opportunity for you to make a case for how your background and experience qualifies you to carry out the work you propose in an NIH grant application. Not only a list of degrees, publications, and awards, the NIH biosketch now asks for narratives sections “Personal Statement” and “Contribution to Science.” This course addresses how to write an effective biosketch that is integrated with the project you propose.  


Speaking Course Offerings

Speaking for Success: Strategies for Effective Medical and Scientific Presentations

This course reviews how adults learn as a means to examine the effective delivery techniques you can use to engage scientific and clinical peer audiences. Provides practical information on how to deliver powerful oral presentations in the classroom, the conference room, the auditorium, and at the regional or national meeting, as well as in poster sessions and during informal conversations with colleagues and potential collaborators.

Includes a discussion of voice, inflection, body language, techniques to stimulate interest and involvement, and strategies to help facilitate audience recall of the message. Addresses how to prepare for a presentation, how to manage anxiety, and how to design and use visual aids effectively.

Presentation Skills Workshop

Limited to 10–15 participants. Each participant gives a brief presentation that is videorecorded and critiqued—strengths and ways to improve—by a speaking coach. Includes a discussion of inflection, body language, and use of visual aids; techniques to stimulate audience interest and involvement; and strategies to help facilitate audience recall of the message. Participants keep their own video, which includes the coach’s and the group’s comments.

Effective Interview Skills

This seminar addresses effective strategies to use before and during interviews, including preparing talking points, examples, stories, and questions. Stresses how to highlight important information and convey it in a memorable way. Includes a focus on body language, inflection and tone, and the overall image you project.


Teaching Course Offerings

Provided by the Office of Consultation and Research in Medical Education (OCRME).

  • Clinical Teaching
  • Providing Effective Feedback
  • Small Group Teaching
  • Test Item Writing
  • Other topics are available by arrangement