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From the Editor

Our Journal, Academic Medicine

Roberts, Laura Weiss MD, MA

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doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000003001
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Academic medicine is entrusted with advancing the health and well-being of people, communities, and populations, today and in the future. We in academic medicine fulfill this responsibility through innovation and leadership across the 5 interdependent, synergistic missions of research, education, clinical care, community collaboration, and professionalism. Our work is forward-looking, diverse, and ever-evolving, and yet it is also shaped by enduring ethical principles and values held dear by healers over many generations. Innovation furthering the 5 missions of academic medicine represents a powerful methodology for transforming human health. Leadership inspired by the ethical principles and values of the health professions is a direct path to serving humanity.

Our journal, Academic Medicine, seeks to enable the transformational work and service of our field by providing

an international forum for the exchange of ideas, information, and strategies to address the major challenges facing the academic medicine community as it strives to carry out its missions in the public interest.1

Academic Medicine was first launched as the Bulletin of the Association of American Medical Colleges in 1926. Renamed a total of 3 times, the journal has become a vital resource for students, teachers, investigators, clinicians, program leaders, institutions, health systems, partners from segments across society, and policymakers. Recognized as a leading—and the most-cited—health professions education journal in the United States,2Academic Medicine is a platform for fair, thoughtful, and rigorous scholarship as well as creative, discerning observations that enrich our perspectives and approaches. And because learning itself is at the heart of every physician’s work, supporting excellence in education is a natural focus for our journal. Creating a better future is indeed predicated on preparing the next generation of innovators and leaders in medicine and the other health professions, and for this reason, education is the academic mission that has remained first among equals for Academic Medicine.

In 1965, Lowell T. Coggeshall, in a report for the Executive Council of the Association of American Medical Colleges,3 asked that

those responsible for medical education today and in the future turn their attention to a question of the greatest importance and most far-reaching consequences: Will the methods and practices currently followed in providing health personnel of all categories, together with the programs and facilities in being or planned, be adequate to meet our national needs?

More than 50 years later, we would perhaps reframe this question to encompass global needs, and yet his essential enquiry rings true. Are our present-day methods and practices sufficient? Have we addressed all that we should in supporting health personnel of “all categories” as they develop skills, strengths, a sense of purpose, and feelings of belonging as professionals? Are our programs and facilities adequate to meet the needs of the public? What evidence informs our judgment on these matters? And, finally, how well have we positioned academic medicine, and—more broadly—the other health professions for what will be required in the decades to come?

Few would disagree with the view that the challenges for fostering human health in the future are daunting. And yet, with recent advances in science and technology, the potential to understand, prevent, and cure disease; to influence social, behavioral, and environmental determinants of health; to address health disparities; and to enhance human capacities and well-being is unprecedented. Reliable predictions4 indicate that most children born this year in the United States who survive to adulthood will celebrate their hundredth birthdays, 2 decades beyond current life expectancy. Our students’ patients will have healthier and longer lives, changing not only medical education and health care but society itself.

It is in this context, rich with challenge and change, that Academic Medicine moves into its 95th year, and I embrace my new role as editor-in-chief. I come with a full heart, deep gratitude to my predecessors and colleagues, and a long list of plans, ideas, and hopes for our journal. In the coming years, the journal will sustain its fundamental commitment to publishing original, peer-reviewed scholarship and empirical reports, systematic reviews, Perspectives, Invited Commentaries, descriptive articles, Innovation Reports, and letters that inform outstanding work across the health professions. As in the past, the journal will continue to highlight contributions from the humanities, ethics, and the social, behavioral, and quantitative sciences; these disciplines deepen our appreciation of the experience and significance of identity, illness, being a patient, and becoming a doctor. The journal will also continue to publish rigorously derived empirical, analytical, and conceptual work to shape health education, services, systems, and policy.

I envision developing editorials and essays focused on salient and emergent topics for academic medicine, academic health centers, and society at large. The list of topics that merit our consideration is long, such as identity, inclusion, and culture in academic medicine; the physician–scientist pipeline; health professional resilience and well-being; academic promotion and tenure; medical education and health care financing; physician workforce; student admissions and assessment; trainee debt; and health disparities across segments of our population, as well as other difficult issues facing our field. I look forward to collaborating with colleagues on reflective and data-based pieces exploring pedagogy, technique, and technology in medical education and research. I will also write about the virtues, values, and professional practices essential to all health fields. Our journal will be exploring new features and expanding our social media and digital portfolio. We will be elevating brief communications of particular value to the broader community of academic medicine. And we will work on strengthening the mechanics and appropriate metrics for the journal, aiding our authors, reviewers, and readers.

Academic Medicine will work in the coming years with ever-greater intention and effort to engage with individuals at all stages of academic development; across all backgrounds, geographies, and walks of life; and from the diverse disciplines that make up the health professions. The journal will invite applications for new persons to fill associate and assistant editor roles in an effort to broaden the expertise and experiences represented in our journal’s leadership. The editorial team will seek to anticipate and ensure excellence in scientific, ethical, and editorial and review practices and will examine our processes to prevent publication bias. The journal will continue to endeavor to be of utmost value to a large array of stakeholders in human health. Over time, our aim is to reach more people and to make a bigger difference in the world by being a highly trusted and effective medium for rigorous, astute, and influential scholarship and communication in academic medicine and throughout the health professions.

Academic Medicine should be the journal that our authors and readers love because it has personal importance to them, too, just as it does to me. The journal has been my companion since medical school, and its editors have generously published my empirical and conceptual manuscripts throughout my career. In a collaboration with Addeane S. Caelleigh, the 6th editor of the journal, Steven H. Miles, MD and I guest edited an issue of Academic Medicine on the then-neglected topic of ethics training for medical students and residents. I was an intern at the time: my formation as a young physician coincided with my formation as a young editor in medicine. This experience led, in turn, to my role as editor-in-chief for Academic Psychiatry for 17 years and now, coming home, my selection as the editor-in-chief of Academic Medicine.

Academic Medicine is the journal to which every innovator and leader—whether learner, educator, researcher, clinician, partner, or policymaker—in academic medicine belongs. Academic Medicine fosters the transformation of human health by enabling innovation and leadership across the 5 interdependent, synergistic missions of our field. Our journal has a special role as a forum for understanding and addressing challenges in the health professions, and it is the place where we, working together, can raise the important questions, learn from one another, and prepare for the future. Academic Medicine is the resource that individuals from diverse backgrounds and diverse health professions can turn to because it is trustworthy, respectful, relevant, and helpful. It is a journal where we refine our work and grow professionally. Academic Medicine, Dear Reader, is our journal.

Laura Weiss Roberts, MD, MA


1. Academic Medicine. About the journal. Accessed September 5, 2019.
2. Academic Medicine named top journal in education, scientific disciplines again! AM Rounds blog. Published June 27,2019. Accessed September 6, 2019.
3. Coggeshall LT. Planning for Medical Progress Through Education: A Report Submitted to the Executive Council of the Association of American Medical Colleges. 1965.Evanston, IL: Association of American Medical Colleges.
4. Christensen K, Doblhammer G, Rau R, Vaupel JW. Ageing populations: The challenges ahead. Lancet. 2009;374:1196–1208.
Copyright © 2019 by the Association of American Medical Colleges