The making of Dr. Juli
Veterinary medicine is all that I have ever known as a career option. In fact, one of my earliest memories was riding in the car with my family to take my aging German shepherd to the vet. He never left the hospital that day. At 3 years old, I was too young to understand what euthanasia meant, or why a beloved pet was euthanized. All I knew was that my best friend was gone, and my toddler heart was broken. But, that was the moment I decided to dedicate my life to caring for animals and veterinary medicine.
My early life began in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where my 9th birthday present was a rescue golden retriever named Prince, whose time was up at the local shelter. Prince became my best friend and pretend patient during many games of playing “veterinarian.” He was my greatest teacher, friend, and confidant for the trials and tribulations of a girl who became a Type A teen, determined to get into veterinary school. Shortly after Prince came into my life, my family relocated to South Florida, and I started volunteering with our local veterinarian. She taught me the ins and outs of a veterinary hospital, and the importance of every job, from cleaning cages and washing dogs, to medicine and caring for pet owners. I was a sponge for all things animal, read every animal book, and participated in every experience possible that had anything to do with an animal. The plethora of Florida lizards became my patients, and my first surgery was the removal of a large bull ant from a baby lizard, whom I aptly named Tiny. Tiny lived in a makeshift hospital ward, which was an open shoebox filled with grass, until he recovered from his “surgery.”
My love of books and writing was becoming an equally important passion, and no matter the English assignment, I found a way to incorporate an animal character, or relate my life experiences to a four-legged friend. I also declared that I wanted to write a book about animals one day. I am still working on that life goal.
A fish out of water
My love of all things animal also extends to the flippered, feathered, and scaled species. Growing up on the ocean has given me a deep appreciation and love for all the creatures above and below the sea. During high school, I was fortunate to have a summer job as a camp counselor for an environmental camp, where I learned valuable lessons and tools on preserving our most vital natural resources and animals. The decision to attend college hundreds of miles away from the ocean was a tough transition, but Auburn University provided me with unparalleled mentorship, family, and more than a little fun along the way. I had aspirations of minoring in journalism, but the demands of achieving a bachelor of science in zoology degree, while applying to veterinary school in less than four years, prohibited any more course work. As a compromise, I joined the college radio station and wrote, produced, and hosted my own show for more than seven years, and “retired” only when I got into my clinical years in veterinary school. During my final years at Auburn, I further solidified my love of marine life and spent my summers training at aquatic facilities in Hawaii and Florida. My final senior project was all about dolphins, and I was one of the first Auburn students approved to complete the required three-month preceptorship at an aquarium.
The write path
My love of writing has been valuable in all aspects of my veterinary career, also extending to my other passions. My professional career started as a post-doctoral fellow in marine mammal research and conservation. The scientific world takes “publish or perish” seriously, and I was quickly indoctrinated into the world of scientific writing, speaking, and lecturing throughout the United States, and internationally. Although some may consider scientific writing bland, dry, boring, long—you get the picture—I learned how to say what I mean concisely and accurately, which is helpful in any form of creative or blog writing.
As an avid endurance runner, I was sponsored by a company that introduced me to the world of blogging, and I would recount my race and training experiences. I relived my first 100-mile run through a series of blog posts that recounted each high and low during the 24 hours of running to the finish line, and reflected on my fortune in having a healthy body that can run such distances.
One of my favorite things about writing is the ability to immortalize any memory, thought, feeling, or story from a moment in your life. As a child, I would journal like crazy, and the words could not come out fast enough. As an adult, I censor myself much more, but have learned from authors I admire, like Anne Lamont and Jasmine Guillory, to simply get everything out, and worry about the edits later. This can translate into a life lesson you can apply to any hobby, career, or sport—establish your base, and work on the fine points later.
The pandemic was a curveball that I, like many, am still processing. In addition to my work as a marine mammal veterinarian, I work as a small animal relief veterinarian. The early days of the pandemic made me reluctant to step foot in multiple hospitals for fear of exposure, or carrying COVID to another hospital. Rumpus was advertising for a freelance writer, and I quickly applied for the perfect pandemic-safe job. I enjoy finding creative ways to teach people about animal health and wellness.
Writing is not for everyone—and most veterinary professionals barely have time for lunch, let alone writing educational content for their clients—so contact us for all your veterinary writing needs.