Leaders in Medical Education

Dr. Christine Laine, Annals of Internal Medicine

Osmosis Team
Published on Aug 11, 2014. Updated on Invalid date.

Dr. Christine Laine is the Editor in Chief of Annals of Internal Medicine. She is both a writer and a physician and has been able to combine those interests in her career. Dr. Laine is committed to improving the quality of the medical field and we were fortunate to speak with her about both her career and medical education.

How did you decide on a career in medicine?

I am not sure when I decided to go into medicine. I was in college majoring in writing and I did not know what I wanted to do after graduation.  I liked science as well as writing and thought that maybe I should go to medical school. As soon as I thought that, I realized that medicine was the right path for me.

What made you pick internal medicine as your specialty?

Initially in medical school I thought I was going to be a pediatrician, maybe even a neonatologist. However, about two days into my pediatrics rotation, I realized that sick kids were not for me. The reason I chose internal medicine was because there were several physicians at my medical school who inspired me. Most notably, the chair of the internal medicine department at that time was someone whom I respected. He was a really great role model, not only to me but also to many of my classmates. Because of his leadership, a large proportion of my medical school class ended up as internists.

It seems that more medical students are pursuing interdisciplinary careers and degrees (MD/MPH, MD/MBA, etc). Can you describe how you managed to combine your career in medicine with your interest in writing?

Part of that was serendipitous. After I went to medical school I thought that writing was not going to be part of my professional life. However, I had the opportunity to work with someone who would become the editor of Annals of Internal Medicine and he gave me the opportunity to try my hand at editing. It was a really good fit because I had a background in writing, training in research methods, and the clinical knowledge. I think it is really interesting that more students are pursuing interdisciplinary degrees and I think that it  is really great. Traditionally, back in the days when I was a medical student, it was a pretty bizarre thing to do. But I think that medicine is changing and the world is changing and there are more opportunities for people to combine their variety of interests.


What changes do you believe would improve the quality of medical education?

One of the changes that has been happening in medical education is a greater realization that it is good to start clinical medicine earlier on and to integrate that with some of the more basic science instruction. That has two purposes: First, it keeps people going because you do have some sense that what you are doing helps your future career and second, it gives you a chance to develop skills that you are really going to need when you are interacting with patients daily. I think that there is an increasing push to figure out ways to make that change and there is an increasing realization that it is not only the science that is important to being a good doctor. The social sciences and even the arts are applicable to developing the interpersonal skills that a good doctor needs.

As Editor in Chief of Annals of Internal Medicine, how do you see technology impacting medical education?

Medicine and medical education are changing very rapidly to meet the changing ways people learn about anything in our world today, specifically regarding technology. It is no longer acceptable, using the journal as an example, to have an article only available in print form. I think that if journals continue to do that, young physicians are not going to engage very much with the journals. One of the things that we try to do at Annals is to have more multimedia articles.For some articles, you will have the digital version, summaries of that article, videos of the author of the article describing the work, powerpoint presentations, and audio versions. I think that as technology changes there will be ways to present scientific articles that we haven’t thought about yet. Interestingly, in some of the more basic sciences there is a journal only based on video. Instead of reading about how somebody did a bench experiment, you actually watch the person do it. It’s a little bit like a cooking show and like a cooking show, sometimes watching someone is more informative that reading about what they did.