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Emily Atkinson - Junior Medical Writer

What’s your name, and what graduating class were you from?

Hi, I’m Emily Atkinson. I graduated from GUVS in 2010, and also have an intercalated degree from the University of Bristol in Animal Welfare and Behaviour.

What do you do at the moment?

I am a junior medical writer working for a small agency in the field of human medical communications. My work involves collaborating on a variety of promotional materials, educational materials and journal manuscripts.

What did your pathway look like, and how did you get your current job?

I spent five years in mixed practice and a further five years in small animal practice. Having made the decision to leave clinical practice, I spent quite a bit of time researching alternative career paths. The difficulty was that I was unable to relocate and there are not many non-clinical opportunities for vets in the North of Scotland.

In June 2020, I attended a Global Careers Summit hosted by the Facebook page, Veterinary Stay, Go, Diversify (VSGD), which was really inspiring. I had a bit of a ‘light-bulb’ moment listening to a vet-turned-medical writer speak about his career change. Until that moment I had never even heard of medical writing! I finally had something to aim for and set about updating my CV, applying for junior positions and generally pestering people on LinkedIn.

It can be difficult to get a foot in the door in the med comms industry, so I was lucky to meet the right people at the right time.

Why did you choose to move away from clinical work?

There were aspects I really enjoyed like surgery, interacting with patients and working in a great team. Although I’m a sociable person, I didn’t enjoy the client-facing aspect of the job and over time this wore me down.

What is the best part of the job?

The peace and quiet of working from home with my dog by my side and minimal interruption is lovely, and a contrast to the hustle and bustle of a veterinary practice. It has been really interesting to learn about certain aspects of human medicine and compare them to veterinary. Also, never working late at night or during the weekend is a bonus.

This job may not be for you if…

You don’t enjoy sitting down all day (it’s harder than you think!). You do need to be content with your own company and be able to work independently, while still part of a team.

Do you have any words of wisdom for other alumni?

Don’t feel restricted in your career-vets are adaptable and have many transferable skills. If you fancy a change, just go for it. For me, changing career was scary, but ultimately rewarding, and I learned a lot about myself in the process. Be curious, explore all avenues, and don’t be afraid to ask people for advice-they are generally very happy to help.

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