What does judging ice dancing have in common with editing articles for medical journals? More than you might think, observes Dragonfly senior medical editor Jeni Crockett-Holme.
Both pursuits require keen consideration of minute details and an ability to evaluate work as a whole as well as in terms of its smallest units. Editors attend to spelling, punctuation, and parallel structure; judges evaluate skaters’ body positions, choreography, and musicality. In providing feedback, both call for constructive comments in a quest for improvement.
And just as editors strive for writing that is both grammatically correct and aesthetically appealing, ice dancing judges assign performers both technical and artistic marks.
Jeni got her start as a medical editor “by accident,” she says, after a background in project management led her to direct programs for a local agency on aging. “I ended up with a good vocabulary and understanding of the medical field, which made the transition to journal editing easier.”
She’s since developed expertise in editing urology and oncology content and regularly edits articles for major medical journal European Urology.
“It’s precise work,” Jeni says. “We have to be careful, because with such highly technical content, there are serious ramifications if we get the details wrong.”
Her Dragonfly team recently edited a collection of reviews for the journal on outcomes related to robot-assisted prostatectomy—a topic of ongoing debate within the field. “To be involved in something that will help improve medical practices—it’s pretty cool,” Jeni says.
Finding inspiration on the ice
Her path to becoming an ice dancer and judge was a bit more direct. She remembers watching gold-medal-magnet swimmer Michael Phelps win race after race during the last summer Olympics and felt compelled (albeit by a very different type of sport) to get active again. “So, yes, I credit Michael Phelps as being my ice dancing inspiration,” she says.
Figure skating had been a passion since college, and Jeni was eager to get back to the rink. Ice dancing—in contrast to figure skating’s elaborate jumps and spins—is an offshoot of ballroom dancing. Jeni performs pieces such as waltzes, tangos, and foxtrots on the ice. She’s ascended the ranks and is hoping to achieve “pre-gold” qualification this year—just shy of the top ice dancing level—and aspires to be a judge for U.S. Figure Skating by 2013.
“I love the way skating makes me feel, in body and mind,” Jeni says, adding that working from home has allowed her the flexibility to train for dances. As she hones her skills as a judge, there’s one quality she’s thankful ice dance judging and medical editing don’t share: “Sitting in an ice rink for three hours writing—it gets cold!”
Mary Dixon, a recent graduate of The College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, and an intern with Dragonfly Editorial, is writing a series of profiles of Dragonfly writers and editors.