Our long-time editor-in-chief, Mike Whitcomb, MD, decided earlier this year to leave his position at the journal to pursue in more depth some of his many interests. This is the last issue of Academic Medicine with Mike at the helm.
Mike inherited a fine scholarly journal from his predecessor, Addeane Caelleigh, and sought to make it “the journal that those holding leadership positions in medical schools and teaching hospitals turn to first for information that will help them address the major challenges facing their institutions and academic medicine as a whole.”1 In our totally unbiased view, Academic Medicine has made remarkable progress toward that goal. But a more objective measure is the journal's impact factor (a measure of how often journal articles are cited), which is now the highest it has ever been. It is also the highest for all journals in its category.
In addition to improving the already fine quality of the journal's content and increasing its relevance to the academic medicine community, Mike's leadership made it possible for Academic Medicine to perform well in a challenging market environment, as measured by its increased total revenue and a reduction in total production costs.
Space is limited, but four more of Mike's several contributions bear mentioning: the greatly increased number of solicited articles and research reports, usually centered around a common theme; the transition from a paper manuscript tracking system to an online one (and Mike's mastery of it!); and the establishment of the Journal Oversight Committee, which Mike strongly advocated. That committee's distinguished members are listed on the journal's masthead. Many readers, however, will remember Mike—fondly or otherwise—for his editorials, in which he challenged current ideas and thinking about some of academic medicine's thorniest issues. Underlying the scholarship supporting those challenges was Mike's deep concern about the education and practice of our country's physicians.
As impressive as all these achievements are, there is one more that means the most to us. Mike was a fine and delightful boss. He trusted us to do our jobs and gave us his full support, encouraged us to argue with him about any of his manuscript decisions, and treated us as colleagues, not mere “staff.” Our meetings with him were like mini-seminars on the pressing issues of academic medicine, since he would often explain his decisions about a manuscript by giving us a wealth of background information about the topic—which helped us when we edited future papers on that topic. We also prized the tone of those meetings, whose serious business was lightened by Mike's wit and irreverence.
The journal has had fine editors and will have more fine ones in the future (Welcome, Steve!). But there will never be anyone quite like Mike. We will miss you!
1 Whitcomb ME. A new goal for the journal. Acad Med. 2005;80:515–516.