“I am a medical researcher and writer who feels very fortunate to have a career that allows me to learn something new every day, while satisfying my goal to make a difference by sharing what I learn. Knowledge is power and that is certainly true if we want to improve our overall health or regain our health during times of illness. Much of what I do supports both of those goals.”
Why did you decide to become a health writer?
As a medical writer, I have the perfect opportunity to blend my writing skills (I wanted to be a journalist in high school) and my insatiable interest in health and medicine. It is very satisfying to take a complex health topic and present it in such a way that my readers understand and can apply it to their lives.
How did you get your ‘big break’ as a health writer?
This is a tough question. I think I consider every job a great opportunity or a “break” in my medical writing career.
What’s your best piece of advice for those who are considering a career in health writing or who are just starting out?
Read, research, read, research, read, research, and do more reading and research. It is critically important to be well-informed about new and emerging research and therapies. In addition, hone your writing skills. More is not better when writing about medical issues. My goal is to eliminate as many extraneous words from my writing and I try to choose each word with care that will accurately convey complex information to diverse audiences.
What’s the most challenging topic you’ve ever had to cover?
I recently completed a 7-chapter “digest” on schizophrenia. While the topic was not overly complex, it was a challenge to create an integrated “story” in 7 chapters that addressed a diverse range of topics including medical and behavioral interventions, the impact of schizophrenia on patients, caregivers, and our health care delivery system, the effect of health care reform on the care we provide to persons with schizophrenia, and the payer perspective.
What’s the hardest thing about being a health writer?
The hardest thing about health writing for me has little to do with the actual research and writing. It is by far a greater challenge to do the daily tasks that are essential to manage my business, juggle multiple priorities, and provide timely response to diverse clients. I take advantage of project management software and automated task reminders to help me accomplish these tasks.
Health is one of our most treasured possessions for all of us. I love that a well-written article or presentation has the potential to give readers the information that they need to make better decisions that may lead to more favorable clinical and quality of life outcomes.
What inspires you in your career?
My colleagues and the belief that my research and writing has made a difference for at least one of my readers.