Reflections  1/95

by Del Meyer, MD

During the summer of 1993, after having been appointed as editor, I began collecting medical vignettes, anecdotes, and practice issues for writing the "Hippocrates and His Kin" column. There were a large number of books appearing on the bookseller's shelves relating to health care and in fall the committee began writing reviews of books by physicians or books about what it is that physicians do. The committee welcomed members participation in this. Hence, the gamut from Doctor Robin Cook's Fatal Cure, to the Doctors in Shindler's List, to A Family of Doctors. We asked publishers to send us review copies and many responded. These are now available in our library.

The first year as Editor is now completed. It may be a good time to pause and reflect on the past year as we embark on the new. I've written the expected eleven editorials for the eleven issues we have each year (July/August summer issue is combined); eleven "Hippocrates and His Kin" columns (sometimes known as a "three dot, three star column"); and twenty-one book reviews.

It was suggested when I started that we may be forced to go to a quarterly format. It became quite apparent after having been on the editorial committee for a year, that there is a two month delay between writing time and when it shows up in your office. January articles such as this have to be written during the month of November with a deadline of December 1 to be put together by the managing editor, galley print sent for review, reset as needed, a cover design made, sent to artist, advertisements formatted, with the final product sent to the publisher and mailed to be received by the membership by the first week of January. It is very hard to stay current with a monthly journal which requires two months to get to you. It would be impossible to remain current or even relevant with a quarterly journal.

Hence, we buckled down for a year of hard work to revitalize and show we still needed a monthly. We brought a number of practice issues to our pages. We've published articles from organized medicine (CMA & AMA), hospital association (CAHHS), our Osteopathic colleagues, the Irish Health Service, the physicians union, nurse practitioners, academia (UCD & CSUS), attorneys on a variety of relevant legal issues, CalPac, our physician inventors, Blue Cross, Blue Shield, and invited the medical directors of other insurance carriers, managed care organizations, and our hospitals to do the same. We had a good response from the membership for our annual summer travel and leisure issue and our fall issue on cultural pursuits. From the response I have received from the membership, or perhaps more accurately the readership, it has been worth the 40 hours a month it took. I thank all those that have given support, suggestions, and even recommended that I write for other publications. One of our editorials was picked up by a nursing journal, one by a sister society, one by Northern California Medicine, and this month, we have an article in California Physician. Thanks to the committee members for attending the meetings, editing submissions, and then critiquing the final product. We welcome Gilbert Wright, a former editor, as assistant editor who will write a monthly "Curmudgeon" column; Ed Rudin will continue as vice chair; Jim Coyle and Val Popa who will bring you an overview of other societies. Our thanks to Chris Albasio, Ph.D., for putting it all together in an appealing and readable format.

There has been approximately a 50% increase in submissions from our membership, and more than a doubling from nonmembers. We've made a sincere attempt to publish most of our members articles but did have to expand from our 32 page format to 36 pages twice and to 40 pages four times. The nonmember articles, unless solicited, generally ended up in the "file" awaiting future space. The additional pages exceeded our budget and an agency was hired to obtain the advertising revenue to pay the deficit. We're optimistic that this will accomplish that end.

As this is being written on November 22, the 31st anniversary of JFK's tragic assassination, BeeLine replayed the famous inaugural address. Without appearing presumptuous, let me paraphrase the address which may give us an organizational perspective.

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In the long history of our profession, only a few generations have been granted the privilege of defending the freedom to practice medicine in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility, but welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other profession or any other generation; the energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will enlighten our profession and all who serve our patients. And so my fellow physicians of Sacramento and ElDorado counties, ask not what your society can do for you, ask what you can do for your profession; my fellow physicians of California and America, ask not what the CMA and AMA will do for you, but what together we can do for the health of people everywhere. Finally whether you are members of SEDMS, CMA, the AMA, or the profession at large, ask of us here the same high standard of strength and sacrifice, perseverance and patience, which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, when history is the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the profession we love for the benefit of the patients we serve.

That will continue to be the editorial direction during this second year. Also in any subsequent year that we are asked to serve.