AMWA Member Spotlight - Dr Aajuli Shukla
Name: Aajuli Shukla
1. Brief description of what you do
I am one of the Deputy editors at the Medical Journal of Australia and on the editorial advisory Board of the Diabetes Management Journal. I do this role part time while working as a GP in Blacktown Sydney
2. What led you to become a medical writer?
Once I achieved my Fellowship in General practice, I had been considering my options in terms of having a ‘side hustle’, or something that offered me a cognitive break in between clinical work. I responded to an ad from the Medical Republic looking for a clinical editor and have never looked back! Since then, I have written for The Medical Republic, The Diabetes Management Journal and the MJA.
3. What do you enjoy most about being a medical writer?
I really enjoy the variety it offers and the fact that is a creative outlet for me. I enjoy reflecting on clinical practice and writing about it but also relish the editing side where I read submissions from the top research units across Australia and sometimes the world. Seeing my name in print still brings a lot of joy and it’s always lovely reading comments back from the readers!
4. What has been one of your career highlights as a medical writer and why?
Writing for the MJA has been a highlight for me- seeing my name in print and the response some of my articles have generated has been amazing. One of the recent pieces I wrote regarding the challenges of being a female GP in Australia garnered a lot of attention and created a lot of debate. I did a lot of research for that piece of writing and had a lot of evidence to back up what I said. It was great to bring the spotlight on the gender pay gap in my profession in the hopes that something about it can change- if nothing else than to reaffirm my decision to go into private billing.
5. What has been one of the greatest challenges for you as a medical writer and how have you addressed this?
Deadlines are always tricky- I have had to become a lot more efficient in the way I manage workflow. Commissioning work in the current climate where a lot of clinicians and researchers are facing burnout has been difficult as well. The unpredictability of the work can be interesting but also challenging. I often find myself having to manage author expectations in line with the requirements of the Journal. Speaking to my fellow editors and networking has helped me manage a lot of these challenges.
6. What advice would you give fellow writers or people considering a career in medical writing?
Do it! Dip your toes in! Look actively for opportunities on various job advertising platforms and attend conferences on medical writing to improve your skills. The flexibility the role offers in terms of often being able to work from home is fantastic! The current labour shortage means that there are likely a lot more opportunities than you think!
7. What led you to join the AMWA executive committee?
I think Australia publishes world leading and clinical practice changing research. For a country of our size we punch well above our weight. I wanted to join the exec committee as Chair of the Australasian Health and Medical Editors network to encourage networking and a sharing of ideas between editors in our region to strengthen our ties but also improve the way we work!