For most writers, one’s first byline is a significant milestone. But Kate Harold was almost too young to remember the first time she saw her name in print. At age 10, she had a poem published in a local children’s newspaper, the Peanut Butter Press. “I think my mom had something to do with it,” she laughed.
The Press left Kate hungry for more, and she continued to write throughout childhood. “I always knew I wanted to be a writer,” she said. “I still have journals from when I was a kid filled with ridiculously cute poems that I wrote.”
Things came full circle: now, Kate’s a successful copywriter, who’s done corporate, nonprofit, and freelance work.
Poetry, packaging, and patient tales
After college, Kate landed a writing job—though the work wasn’t exactly the poetry she had practiced. Kate’s first task was writing the instructions on packaging for endoscopic surgical tools. The job wasn’t the best match for Kate’s imaginative bent; “after a few years, I was a little uninspired,” she says. But the knowledge she gained of medical tools and techniques proved instrumental.
Kate’s next job was at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. There, she started out as a web content editor, where she worked on a 10,000-page website relaunch. She eventually started writing for the hospital’s print publications, including newsletters, direct mail ads, and fundraising campaigns.
Kate then wrote patient success stories for the hospital’s website, in-depth features that involved interviews with patients, parents, caregivers, and physicians. Kate’s deep knowledge of healthcare procedures allowed her to ask the right questions and get to the heart of complicated, often emotional issues and present them with a message of hope.
Before and after
One of Kate’s favorite pieces told the story of an infant with bladder outlet obstruction, whose mother chose to undergo lifesaving surgery while her son was still in the womb. After birth, the baby had some complications, but the surgery was a success. “It was probably the most precarious case I had written about, but so inspiring,” Kate says. “After writing that story, I always wondered what had happened to that little boy.”
Four years later, Kate was asked to write another patient profile for Cincinnati Children’s. It was a follow-up story on a baby who had undergone fetal surgery. “When I got the assignment, the family’s name looked familiar,” Kate recalls. Sure enough, it was the same family she had covered years before. “It was so wonderful to check in with the family and find out that the baby had survived and is a happy little four-year-old now!”
The little things
Kate loves seeing progress in the lives of patients she covers—and in the past few years, has seen major changes of her own. After three kids, “life got a little busier,” Kate says, and in 2009, she began work as a freelancer. “I wanted a more flexible schedule, so even though the economy was tanked, I decided to take the leap.”
The result? “It’s great,” Kate says. She now works from home, writing for Dragonfly and other clients. Greater flexibility also means more time with her children—and the chance to support their budding interests, the way her own mother did. “I love being home when my kids get home from school, or being able to read to my son’s class.”
“It’s just great to be around for all of the little things.”
Mary Dixon is a writer and editor with Dragonfly Editorial.