Pawsitive Penmanship: How Veterinarians Can Thrive in the World of Medical Writing

Write Medicine

Pawsitive Penmanship: How Veterinarians Can Thrive in the World of Medical Writing

December 1, 2023

Pawsitive Penmanship: How Veterinarians Can Thrive in the World of Medical Writing

Show Notes

What existing skills and competencies do you know you have for sure? How can you put those skills to use to find new professional opportunities? Understanding and acknowledging your skills is crucial for building confidence and pursuing new professional opportunities. My guest today is JoAnna Pendergrass DVM, a veterinarian turned medical writer who has built a successful solo business creating content focused on pet health and educating pet parents. If you have participated in the freelance panel offered by the University of Chicago Professional Certificate Program in Medical Writing, you’ll recognize JoAnna. Today she shares the catalysts that triggered her transition from veterinary practice to medical writing, the challenges she faced in making this shift, and how she found solutions to those challenges.

If you are a vet thinking of medical writing as a side hustle or alternative career, you’re going to want to listen to this episode. It’s jam-packed with tips and resources to support your medical writing journey. We talk about the importance of doing the internal work to clarify what brings you joy and to identify your current skills and competencies, how to build your business in a way that works for your life, and the importance of finding other vets who have made the shift into medical writing—people who speak your language.

Time Stamps:

(03:39) – Introducing JoAnna

(07:40) – Her next steps and the challenges she navigated in shifting into medical writing

(12:22) – JoAnna’s perspective on the field itself as she moved from a postdoc context into medical writing

(14:02) – Her experience with agency work

(17:29) – How JoAnna faced challenges

(22:34) – How she found community with other veterinary medical writers

(24:18) The impact of finding a community who spoke her language

(24:50) The skills she brought from veterinary training to medical writing

(27:59) What has surprised her about medical writing

(31:50) JoAnna’s advice for vets thinking about shifting into medical writing

(37:52) Her final thoughts on building a successful and effective business that works for your life

Click Here for the Transcript



About JoAnna

JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM, is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer. She has been a medical writer for over 10 years and started her freelance medical communication company, JPen Communications, in 2016. JoAnna is passionate about pet owner education. Through her writing, she seeks to fill in the gap between what the veterinarian says and what the pet parent understands.

Connect with JoAnna


JPen Communications

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