Tanya Ghanjanasak

Medical Writer

Tanyatorn Ghanjanasak spent several years as a medical doctor, believing her future to be well mapped out. It was only when she took time off for maternity leave that she discovered practicing medicine was not the career path she wanted to follow. This realization eventually caused Dr. Ghanjanasak to shift her focus to medical writing, using her years of training to assist clients with writing educational information and scientific publications.

After earning a Doctorate of Osteopathy from Touro University, Dr. Ghanjanasak began her career in the military, serving several years in leadership positions. From there, Dr. Ghanjanasak moved into family medicine, where she remained until her maternity leave. As she explored new career options, Dr. Ghanjanasak knew that finding a vocation that would utilize her years of medical knowledge would not be easy. After an exhaustive search of possible professions, she settled on medical writing as a great way to capitalize on her background as a physician while at the same time still helping others.

As she has transitioned from full-time doctor to a work-from-home mom, Dr. Ghanjanasak has learned to prioritize work-life balance. Her dedication to thorough research and fast turnaround time has made her writing highly sought-after in the medical community.

In her free time, Dr. Ghanjanasak can be found experimenting with new recipes or exploring the restaurants in her current city of St. Augustine, Florida. She also loves spending time with her son.

Where did the idea for your career come from?

During my maternity leave, I was looking at other options for employment. Even to my own surprise, I was actually considering leaving medicine altogether. I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what was making me feel so burnt out or what was making me unhappy in my work situation, but I knew that I needed a significant change. First, I tried teaching a yoga course for a couple of months, but that didn’t really speak to me. At that point, I started searching online for non-clinical physician jobs and came across medical writing. There were several other options out there, including utilization management, which is a physician review of insurance claims, but that did not resonate either. Nothing else really stood out, either. Medical writing was one avenue that appealed to me because, as a doctor, in addition to seeing patients, one of my jobs was also to educate and present lessons to medical students. Medical writing is essentially just researching a lot of complicated pieces of information and a lot of complicated data, then restructuring it in a way that makes sense to people, which is exactly how my brain worked when I had to come up with something to teach. So, I just started doing freelance work as a trial, but I received some really good feedback from clients straight away. After that, the work kept rolling in, so I made the transition into being a full-time medical writer.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

First thing each morning, I set alarms for anything that I have planned for that day. If I have a meeting scheduled, I’ll set a notification as a reminder. I find it’s the most effective way to keep myself on track. My son is not in school full-time yet, so a lot of my schedule is based on his. On days that my son goes to school, my mornings are mostly spent getting him ready. I’ll work while he’s at school, then I’ll pick him up and spend the evenings with him. After he’s in bed for the night, I’ll typically spend another hour or so working. On days that he is home, I’ll try to make time to go to this lovely indoor park in our neighborhood. It has WIFI, so I am able to work while he plays. There has definitely been a bit of a learning curve as I have made the transition to working from home. I continually look for ways to streamline my processes and be more productive while not giving up this precious time with my son. I’ve always been very well-organized, so that helps a lot.

How do you bring ideas to life?

This is a one-man show, so I rely a lot on research when I’m working on a topic. Right now, I’m starting a piece on cirrhosis, which is a liver disease. Before typing a word, I’ll find four or five different articles on cirrhosis so I can orient myself with the most up-to-date information, such as any current clinical practice guidelines. Once I have a thorough understanding of the topic, I’ll dive into writing the piece based on the client’s request. That could mean I’ll write about the latest treatments or the newest guideline recommendations. Sometimes the subject matter is more broad, like discussing the importance of coordinating with multiple specialists. Whatever I’m writing about, I pride myself on being thorough and having a quick turnaround for completion.

What’s one trend that excites you?

A trend that I’ve noticed that really excites me is that medicine is moving, for better or worse, towards really considering the patient as a whole, not just their disease. We’re not just treating a disease, we’re treating the entire patient. We are looking at the course of treatment based on their specific situation. Would the cost of medication also impact their quality of life? Do they have the transportation to go to various specialists? There’s more of a conversation between the clinician and the patient regarding treatment, what that looks like, what the side effects will be, and whether or not these factors are acceptable to the patient. That obviously carries with it a lot of benefits, in that it involves the patient in their own care more, and it allows doctors and patients to create a plan that they are both comfortable with. The slight disadvantage would be if the recommended therapy is not something the patient can do or is willing to do. For example, if a particular antibiotic is recommended for a specific infection, but the patient is not able to afford it, the doctor may have to find an alternative that isn’t as effective. This may mean the recovery takes longer, but the patient is a part of that decision and is happier with the outcome. It’s a different way of thinking and I think all providers should be educated on it.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Planning things out and organizing has always been a strength of mine. I can look at a task, like writing an article or cleaning the house, and quickly determine the best processes to achieve the goal. I am able to foresee the larger picture. This makes my workflow go a lot faster. While I am still in the research phase, I can already see ahead to the writing phase. It’s a valuable skill in this field.

What advice would you give your younger self?

When I was younger, I put a lot of value in other people’s opinion of me. If something didn’t go as I had expected or if someone seemed unhappy with my work, I would take it personally. If I could talk to my younger self, I would emphasize the importance of recognizing that everyone is on their own path and doing things in their own way. The person who just cut you off in traffic didn’t do it to make you angry, they may just be running late. The person who spoke abruptly to you may just be having a bad day. Along the same lines, my clients sometimes come back to me with really tight deadlines for revisions, putting pressure on me to complete a finished version in a short amount of time. That’s not necessarily because they have no sympathy for my own timelines or for me as a writer, but because they have their own clients and their own deadlines that they’re trying to meet.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

I love looking up new recipes. A lot of people hate sifting through all the background to recipes that you find online, but I love researching all of it. I love reading recipe books from cover to cover. You learn a lot about cooking techniques and other facts about food that way. For example, the fat content in pork has changed between the 1970s and today, so you have to adjust a recipe accordingly. That’s something I wouldn’t have known had I not read the full text in the recipe book. Almost everyone I know wants to just read the recipe and cut out all of the extra information.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Take time to see where you are and to experience each moment. If you’re feeling irritated, take a minute to figure out why. Learning how to recognize your feelings and what caused them can help you find a better balance with yourself. Especially for an entrepreneur, you want to be sure you are at the top of your game. Your livelihood depends on it. Take the time to make sure you are okay. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

My strategy is to make sure my clients’ lives are made easier by working with me. I like to anticipate their needs and deliver before they even ask for something. This has helped my business grow because my clients know if they hire me, they will have thoroughly researched information in an easy-to-read format that takes into account all of their requirements. There is no need for them to micromanage me. Because of my medical background, I have a legitimate understanding of every topic that I research. If I need more information, I know what resources to use to find it. As an entrepreneur, I find that if you make the client’s life easier, you will have a repeat client. Even better, they’ll share my name if someone approaches them to ask for recommendations. It pays to be thorough and efficient.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Finding the perfect work-life balance has been difficult. In my younger years, I wanted to focus more on having fun. I would always do my job effectively no matter what I was doing, but I wasn’t as focused as I should have been. As I got older, I realized that work could be a source of enjoyment as long as I was doing something that I really loved. I loved being a doctor at that time. Once I had that realization, I was able to channel my focus into advancing my credentials. I no longer worried as much about what others thought of me because I had more confidence in myself. Work fostered my sense of accomplishment.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

A few weeks ago, somebody on my local Facebook mom page asked what we would like to see in our area. The group almost jokingly suggested a place where adults could socialize while their kids played together. Not a McDonald’s, but something similar in that the parents would have their own separate place to hang out while the kids are in a different area under supervision. Imagine a restaurant that has a built-in daycare, so adults can mingle and have dinner without having to worry about how the kids are acting because they have their own space. I think it could potentially be very successful.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Reading has been a pastime of mine since I was young. More recently, I’ve been listening to audiobooks because I can enjoy them while doing other things, like cooking or driving. My Audible subscription is a great way to spend $100 because I’m able to listen to so many more books than I would be able to read.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

One of the best resources I have found is the Harvard University Extension School Library. To be able to write the articles I do, I need a reliable source for clinical data to research. Through the library, I am able to pull requests and view articles that help with my work.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Right now, I am listening to Anxious People by Fredrik Backman. It’s a fun story about regular people trying to make it through life’s day-to-day struggles. It actually touches a lot on how so many people have no idea how to be an adult, but are pretending they do. It’s a really enjoyable story.

What is your favorite quote?

I love this quote from Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Key Learnings:

  • Find something you love to do to make a living.
  • Create and prioritize a healthy work-life balance.
  • Always endeavor to exceed expectations.