WMed Student Named 2022 Outstanding Medical Student in Michigan

July 9, 2022 - If one word could summarize Michigan Academy of Family Physicians' 2022 Outstanding Medical Student in Michigan Award winner, diverse would be that word. From substitute teacher to homeowner’s association president, and membership coordinator at a farm-to-table food buying club to English-as-a-second language instructor, Christine Maisano’s “non-traditional” path to medical school set her apart from other applicants to Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine’s class of 2023.

What equally stood out to her medical school interviewer, Dr. Peter Ziemkowski, was her maturity, academic ambition, leadership qualities, and dedication to family medicine and her own family. He shared that he worked directly with countless students throughout his 24-year career as a faculty member at two different medical schools, and he found Christine to easily be among the most inspiring students he has had the privilege to know.

Christine’s “non-traditional” path to medical school began, unbeknownst to her at the time, after graduating magna cum laude from top-tier Wheaton College in 2002, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in anthropology. While considering going to graduate school for public health or social work, she first substitute taught all subjects in grades seven through 12 and then worked as a writer and editor at several Maryland-based consulting groups. Among her clients were high-profile government organizations including the Department of Defense and National Institutes of Health.

Realizing her strong writing skills in support of large research efforts, Christine started her own contract science writing and editing service in the fields of biomedical and social science research, education, and economic development. Thirteen years later, her business is still going strong, and she is proud to have contributed to a number of important publications, including systematic evidence reports from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and two important U.S. Surgeon General Reports for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

These writing and editing experiences also sparked Christine’s strong interest in the sciences and desire to learn more. Prior to applying to medical school, she took post-baccalaureate courses in anatomy, physiology, math, human growth and development, cell and molecular biology, chemistry, physics, and graduate-level public health. She also worked as a medical assistant, providing clinical support in many different specialty areas, with her favorite being family medicine.

All of these diverse experiences ultimately led her to the realization that she wanted to practice family medicine, and that is why she enrolled in medical school.

“I especially love the strong, trust-based relationships that physicians get the honor of building with their patients across their lives. I saw this when I was a medical assistant for several doctors who had lived and worked in our small community for decades, and I knew that’s what I wanted for my career," said Christine.

Now in her final year at Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, Christine is eager to launch her future as a family physician, ideally in a rural community.

Through living in a small mountain town, completing her family medicine clerkship with a full-scope family doctor in rural Indiana, and training as an Area Health Education Centers scholar in WMed’s elective Interprofessional Focus in Community Health Distinction Program, Christine has gained an incredible amount of knowledge about and first-hand experience of the needs of rural communities.

Christine also aspires to continue writing and pursuing her interest in research, and leadership in family medicine is undoubtedly on the horizon as well. Some past leadership roles have included co-leading WMed’s Family Medicine and the Yoga & Wellness Interest Groups; co-creating a new elective for third year WMed students on emotional awareness and well-being skills in the clinic that will be offered this fall; and serving as her medical school’s MAFP Student Ambassador to champion family medicine among her peers.

The Michigan family medicine community looks forward to watching Christine’s further development as a family medicine leader as she works toward her goals of residency and beyond.