Leann Poston MD, former Assistant Dean of Admissions and Career Advancement at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, has a depth of career experience in education, course design, medical school admissions, and medical writing. She shares her insights about teaching, medical school admissions, writing, and course design.
Dr. Poston taught high school before accepting a position as an assistant dean of Medical School Admissions. She has gained a variety of skills and attributes throughout her career that she applies to each new opportunity.
Why did you decide to go to medical school and what made you decide to go into your specialty?
I wanted to be a doctor since I was in grade school. Science was always one of my favorite subjects. I was the first in my family to go to college and to medical school. It was a challenge I was really excited about. I really did not consider any other profession. Medicine is a profession in which you help others. This, of course, also appealed to me very much. I loved medical school. I found that I felt more comfortable working with women and children. I interviewed for residency programs in OB, psychiatry, and pediatrics. I was worried about psychiatry because I have a hard time not taking other people's problems personally and would have brought home a lot of my patients. I liked OB, but not enough to sacrifice my family life, so it was pediatrics for me. When I finished medical school nearly everyone was in general pediatrics, not specialties. A specialty would have a better choice for me as I really enjoy the academics of medicine.
Were there any steps you had to take to qualify for a job as a teacher?
The job I was approached about was at a Catholic high school, which happened to be the one I wanted my children to go to. I was hired as a long-term substitute to teach anatomy and physiology. For a private school, the principal can request a non-tax certificate for a teacher who is uniquely qualified to teach a subject and another qualified teacher has not been found. I did take the Praxis exam in Biology to prove I knew the content, but it was not required.
What skills do you think are valuable for a physician who wants to work in medical school admissions?
You need to be a people person and like working with many different people. You need to be very sure of yourself to enforce the policies the committee votes on and to maintain the integrity of the system. You also need to be able to deal with the inherent politics found in any system that has more people who want to get in there are spots available.
How did you find jobs in medical writing?
I find most of my jobs now come from word of mouth. I have seven clients that I have done multiple jobs for. This keeps me pretty busy. Most of my writing is either writing courses in higher education, acting as an SME, reviewing textbook questions, and writing articles for websites and other medical communication articles. I am much more likely to accept a job that is interesting over any other qualification.
What is the lifestyle and pay like in medical writing?
I can work as much or as little as I want. I find that I get bored easily so I take on my projects because they appeal to me. Currently, I am a course reviewed for a major company that produces online courses and MOOCs. I love the work because I learn new things every course I review. The pay is less than in medicine. I have enough contracts to work at least 40 hours per week. I do not need to spend my time doing the unpaid work that consultants and freelancers sometimes need to do when their business has a low-point. I do keep my website up-to-date. I get many proposals through either my website or LinkedIn, but most are word-of-mouth. I think that anyone going into medical writing with the qualifications and the desire to succeed can make at least $100,000. If money is a major motivator for you, I recommend that you do not jump from subject to subject as I do. You can become specialized and request a higher fee if you stay in one field.
What tips do you have for doctors who want to get into medical writing?
First, make sure that you like to write. I write between 6-8 hours every day. It takes a lot of mental energy. Take the time to interview others in the field to ensure that your expectations meet reality. Choose a niche and verify that you are qualified for that niche. You may find that having an M.D. alone does not qualify you for some work. You may need to maintain your license or even be practicing clinically. I earned my M.Ed and M.B.A. which combined with my M.D. has opened doors for me in areas that I do not think my M.D. alone would have.
Leann Poston is a licensed physician, medical writer, and instructional designer. She graduated from Wright State University and completed a residency in Pediatrics. In 2018, she earned her M.B.A. and M.Ed and opened her own freelance business. She enjoys writing in the fields of medical communications and higher education. She lives with her family in Dayton, Ohio. To learn more about Dr. Poston, visit her website.
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