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Am Fam Physician. 2004;70(4):629

This week members of the professional editing staff of AFP have been meeting with the incoming editorial fellow, Kenny Lin, M.D. Dr. Lin has joined us for a few days of orientation before the start of AFP’s annual editorial board meeting, a time when medical editors and professional staff editors gather to share ideas and goals. A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University, Dr. Lin completed medical school at New York (N.Y.) University School of Medicine and recently completed a residency in family medicine at Lancaster (Pa.) General Hospital.

Dr. Lin always has had an interest in writing and science—a perfect blend for anyone trying to fit in at AFP. Medicine and words are what medical editors are all about, after all. Dr. Lin studied science and history as an undergraduate and was particularly interested in Russian history, with the politics of the space program in the 1960s being the focus of his thesis. Inspired by a visit to Appomattox, Va., during a break from residency, he also developed a special interest in Civil War history and has toyed with the idea of writing historical fiction in this area. His experience in writing short stories and poetry as an undergraduate and his career movement toward medicine have already benefitted AFP, since his combined skills have led him to publish a clinical review that was featured as the cover article of the January 1, 2004, issue. Dr. Lin, with coauthor Jeffrey T. Kirchner, M.D., published the review of hepatitis B that can be found online at

It was lucky for us that his co-author, Dr. Kirchner, used to serve as a medical editor for AFP and alerted Dr. Lin to our medical editing fellowship. Dr. Lin says that when he received a personal telephone call from Dr. Siwek, AFP’s editor, informing him that he was being offered the John C. Rose medical editing fellowship, he was more than just a little excited. We’re thrilled to welcome such enthusiasm to our staff and are looking forward to working with Dr. Lin over the next year.

While Dr. Lin served as a resident at Lancaster General Hospital, he was involved in developing a competency-based curriculum for the ambulatory family practice setting. Before residency, when he served as a teaching assistant in biomedical ethics, he became interested in the role family physicians play in decision-making at the end of life. Several clinical experiences during residency heightened his awareness of the family’s role when an elderly patient becomes incompetent in decision-making. Another area of study for him has been how to approach patients with autism. Currently there’s a void in research in this area, and the medical approach has been based on observation rather than evidence. In addition, while working alongside Dr. Kirchner, whose interest is in care of patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Dr. Lin became involved in learning how to improve these patients’ compliance with drug treatment.

The line between hard medical science and psychosocial issues is a compelling one for Dr. Lin, and he empathizes with the poetic passions of William Carlos Williams, who stayed up nights to write poetry despite his wearying daytime efforts as a physician. We suspect Dr. Siwek too dreams of poetry and medicine, since some of his earliest educational efforts were rooted in poetry. It makes perfect sense to us, as professional wordsmiths in medicine, that science should blend with poetry and humanism, and that family physicians are among some of the greatest humanists around.

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