By Griet Van Acker
As the managing editor of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, Fiona Lynn is a master of deadlines. She copyedits two monthly newsletters, “Health Letter” and “Worst Pills, Best Pills News,” which bring critical information about health issues and dangerous drugs to the American public. She also fine tunes petitions, letters and other documents authored by the Health Research Group staff.
Lynn received her bachelor’s degree in English from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and her master’s degree in professional studies and publishing from George Washington University. During her undergraduate studies, she worked abroad at the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in Oxford as assistant to the junior dean. She also interned at the University of Pennsylvania Press in the editing and production, and marketing departments. While finishing her master’s degree, Lynn started her professional career as an English Language Arts test development assistant at the American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C. She has remained in the nation’s capital ever since, moving on to work as an editor in the field of health coverage at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists before joining Public Citizen in 2017.
Why did you pursue a degree in English?
Lynn: I always loved reading and writing, and I decided I wanted to turn that into a career.
What led you to health policy work?
Lynn: While pursuing my master’s degree I decided I wanted to shift to scholarly publishing and started at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. It was a big transition; I had never studied or worked in the medical field before, so there was a lot to learn. I started with patient education materials that used more simplified language, which paved the way for me to become familiar with health policy. It also taught me about using medical terminology and how to keep track of multiple projects that are in varying stages of production.
How did you come to work at Public Citizen?
Lynn: I was job hunting in 2016, just after the election, and I was looking to work for an organization that would fight the Trump administration’s policies. When I came across the job listing at Public Citizen, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.
How does your job impact health policies?
Lynn: We warn consumers about dangerous drugs and medical devices and often call for these products to be withdrawn from the market or to have warnings added to their labels. In many cases, we have been successful in our efforts. I’m happy to be part of a team that works to provide important—sometimes lifesaving—information about the medications our subscribers take. It’s incredibly rewarding when those subscribers reach out because our publications helped them to take charge of their health.
What activities did you partake in while you were in college?
Lynn: I was part of the Jane Austen Society, a club for people who liked Austen’s novels. A lot of the meetings just involved having tea and watching the movies based on her novels. We did host a ballroom dancing class once, which was fun.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Lynn: I enjoy reading, writing, playing with my dog, Beans, and hosting game nights with my friends. I enjoy traveling whenever I get the chance as well.
Are there any books you recommend?
Lynn: I’m rereading Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” series to prepare for the TV show, which is supposed to be released this year.