Congratulations to Amir Zarrinpar for being selected as a Student Editor for msJAMA.
"I believe that in order to be an exceptional scientist, one first needs to be a good writer. What good is the act of discovery if you cannot share it with other scientists and the public."
Murmur: You have just been selected as an Associate Editor for Medical Student JAMA (msJAMA). How did you hear about this position?
Zarrinpar: I like to read msJAMA and I was proud of the fact that UCSD already has someone there to represent us (Jodi Elgart ('04) who is a senior editor). Every now and again I would visit their web-site to read the essays written by medical students from around the country. While surfing on the msJAMA website, I found their call for new editors. Also, several weeks later, I saw a posting on the "Grants, Stipends, and Scholarships" e-board.
M: What was the application process like?
Z: It took me a long time to decide to apply. I spent about three months mulling over whether I was qualified to be an editor. I even picked up a couple of grammar books to look over. When I finally decided to apply, I took nearly a week off of school to prepare the application. The application required a curriculum vitae, three writing samples, and an editing exercise. The hardest part was the editing exerciese, where they gave all the applicants the first two paragraphs of a potential msJAMA article and asked us to comment on its style, and whether it should be in the magazine. The morning of our Microbiology final last quarter, thirty minutes before the exam, I received the phone call. After being offered the position, I was told that there were more than 80 applicants, and they only accepted six people for their staff.
M: What are the respnosibilities and perks of your job?
Z: My major responsibility is to create an issue for msJAMA. Each issue of msJAMA is created by a single editor. The editor decides the theme of his/her issue, brainstorms with other editors for possible article ideas related to the theme, solicits writers from medical schools around the country, edits the articles, and throws it all together. I've also been given the added responsibility to help select the art for msJAMA cover, which is really exciting. My first issue in msJAMA will be about the stigma of psychiatry and how that has affected health care policy.
The perks of my job are that I get to work on a national journal with medical students from around the country. I am invited to all the AMA conferences and they pay for my expenses. The editors get to work closely with the publishing staff of JAMA, and we have informal interactions with the governing board of hte AMA. And finally, I get to see issues in msJAMA on topics that I find interesting.
M: You are an MD/PhD with an interest in neuroscience. How does this tie in to your career goals?
A: I believe that in order to be an exceptional scientist, one first needs to be a good writer. What good is the act of discovery if you cannot share it with other scientists and the public. I see this position as an opportunity for me to work on my writing and to improve my style. Furthermore, I hope that in the future I'll be on the editorial board of some scientific journals, and this opportunity provides excellent practice.
M: Any last comments about msJAMA?
Z: You can find msJAMA in the first issue of JAMA every month between the months of September and June. It is usually the middle section. If you'd like to see an issue on a particular theme, or if you'd like to write an article for msJAMA, let me know. Also, more importantly, if you have done some goood, previously unpublished art that you think would look good on the cover of our journal, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.