DMS '05 was the deputy editor of Student JAMA
Julie Suzumi Young, DMS '05, is adept at putting words together on paper but can't find a nice way to say that she "hated" the first two years of medical school. "How can you say that nicely?" she asks. "Every single thing I did, everything I learned, was completely alien."
Zone: Young was in her late thirties when she decided to leave an established career as a dietitian and start all over again as an M.D. student. She felt out of her comfort zone.
One major enjoyment missing from her life was writing, which had been a constant ever since college, when she had dreamed of becoming a journalist. But that dream fizzled once she got to know the daily grind of journalism as an intern for the Los Angeles Times.
She kept writing, though, for employee and professional society newsletters and for Japanese newspapers. It wasn't until medical school had consumed her life that she realized how much she missed working with other writers and editors. So when she heard that the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) had editorial openings in its student section—Medical Student JAMA (later Student JAMA)—she applied for and landed one of the positions.
"I think it's safe to say that [Student JAMA] really changed my medical school experience," says Young. She spent three years as the student section's deputy editor, spreading out her clinical rotations to accommodate the extra work. Interacting with her fellow student editors was a pleasure for Young. For the first time since entering medical school, she was working with people who were "speaking the same language—the same editorial language" she did.
Although Student JAMA was a small section—appearing once a month within the larger weekly journal—and was run by students, it was no less rigorous in its editorial standards. "Even though this was sort of a student publication," explains Dr. Stephen Lurie, former senior editor at JAMA who worked closely with Young, "there was the expectation that it would be up to JAMA's usual standards."
Contributing authors were often surprised by this and put off by the numerous revisions requested by the student editors, Young explains. "They didn't understand that JAMA was telling us, 'Look, if you don't change this, we're not publishing it.'"
Grateful: Yet despite the struggles with authors and the long hours (and her dismay when JAMA discontinued the student section last year), Young is grateful for the experience. "I feel, now, a lot more confident that if I want to publish a paper, I have a pretty good idea of what's required," she says.
In addition, Student JAMA "totally changed" Young's residency application. "Every interview that I went on, that's the first thing they'd ask me about—the JAMA experience," she recalls. "And it actually determined my number-one spot . . . UC-Davis." Young knew that she wanted to enter the psychiatry residency at the University of California at Davis after she corresponded with the chair of psychiatry there, Dr. Robert Hales, who is also editor-in-chief for the book arm of American Psychiatric Publishing. After that interaction, UC-Davis "was the only place I wanted to go because of the opportunity to work with Dr. Hales," says Young.
Mutual: The feeling seems to have been mutual, since Young was accepted to the program and, even before arriving in California, already had gotten a few assignments from Hales.
"Right after the Match," says Young, "I e-mailed him, 'Hey! I'm coming to UC-Davis!' So then he e-mails me back, 'Okay, I'll give you a project.'" While some students might have rued the extra work, Young's assessment was: "It's just fun!"
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