— FROM THE EDITOR —

Transitions

Sarina Schrager, MD, MS

Fam Med. 2022;54(5):341-342.

DOI: 10.22454/FamMed.2022.604178

I am honored and delighted to be the fifth editor in chief of Family Medicine. I’m especially grateful to the four editors who preceded me and brought growth and ongoing intellectual rigor to the journal. I will do my best to continue that tradition. When it was first conceived under the name Family Medicine Teacher in 1979, the STFM journal joined only two other family medicine journals in publication (American Family Physician and The Journal of Family Practice). Family Medicine Teacher, like JFP, was born out of a desire to publish an academic journal about the discipline that was not commercially sponsored (phone conversation with John Frey, MD, March 17, 2022). The name of the journal became Family Medicine in 1981 and the founding editor, Lynn Carmichael, MD, remained at the helm until 1985. John Frey, MD, took over as the editor in chief and remained in that position until 1992 when Barry Weiss, MD, assumed the editorship. Dr Weiss was the editor in chief until 2010, when John Saultz, MD, became editor in chief. Dr Saultz has served for the last 12 years. I am the first woman editor in chief of the journal and come from the next generation of family medicine educators. I will continue to ensure the journal’s focus on primary care education, health services research, and health workforce policy. In addition to these subjects, the journal encourages submissions from broader constituencies such as scholars from other primary care disciplines or community residency programs.

Diversity is one of STFM’s core values, and we are committed to becoming an antiracist organization. Being antiracist necessitates an active effort to curb implicit bias and any other structural factors that have marginalized our underrepresented members. Family Medicine, as the official publication of STFM, is a leader among family medicine journals in its focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion topics. The journal published a theme issue about racism in family medicine education in 2019, making it one of the first journals to do so. The editorial team added language guidelines in the instructions for authors to standardize the characterization of racial and ethnic groups and to minimize racial bias and encourage gender-inclusive language.

An antiracist publication evaluates the racial context of all content, provides robust education for the editorial team, editorial board, peer reviewers, and authors, and recruits new team members from diverse backgrounds.1,2 To that end, Family Medicine is seeking a deputy editor focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. This leader will advise the editorial team, help evaluate submissions, and reach out to underrepresented family medicine faculty members to promote the journal’s efforts to mitigate bias. Dr Saultz contributed to a joint editorial3 published by 10 North American family medicine journals in 2020 outlining a plan to work together to develop metrics to assess progress in DEI endeavors and plan how each journal would work toward a common goal. Family Medicine plans to add metrics and processes that will encourage and enhance diverse voices to contribute to the journal. Our new deputy editor will lead the editorial team in this work.

At their December 2021 meeting, the STFM governing board voted to fully transition Family Medicine to an online publication beginning in 2023. While many may miss perusing a print copy with morning coffee, this transition affords a myriad of opportunities for the journal. The lack of print costs enables us to move resources into improving the website to enhance readers’ experiences. We will also improve authors’ experiences by decreasing the time between acceptance and publication of their work. The current time between acceptance and publication for papers in Family Medicine ranges from 4 to 6 months, and the journal’s new online workflow will enable the publications team to make papers available to the broader readership much more quickly. That means that the medical education research community will be able to access information soon after it is peer reviewed and accepted. We will be able to publish letters to the editor in a timelier fashion, encouraging more thoughtful conversations about published papers. We will add new website features such as suggested related articles from Family Medicine and other journals as well. We will develop curated collections of articles to enable scholars to see the broad range of publications in Family Medicine on particular topics. For the future, we will also explore adding audio and video content to augment some of the journal’s content.

Change is hard and sometimes stressful. We are confident these changes to Family Medicine will make it stronger, more vibrant, and more engaging than ever. We look forward to input from readers, scholars, and the STFM membership. The journal strives to engage the community to improve primary care education and practice. We want to hear new ideas for research papers, commentaries, and stories. Please help us make Family Medicine responsive to the needs of the academic family medicine community by providing your feedback to fmjournal@stfm.org.

References

  1. Lett E, Asabor E, Beltrán S, Cannon AM, Arah OA. Conceptualizing, contextualizing, and operationalizing race in quantitative health sciences research. Ann Fam Med. 2022;20(2):157-163; Epub ahead of print. doi:10.1370/afm.2792
  2. Boyd RW, Lindo EG, Weeks LD, McLemore MR. On racism: a new standard for publishing on racial inequities. Health Affairs Forefront Blog. Published July 2, 2020. Accessed March 28, 2022. https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/forefront.20200630.939347/full/
  3. Sexton SM, Richardson CR, Schrager SB, et al. Systemic racism and health disparities: a statement from editors of family medicine journals. Fam Med. 2021;53(1):5-6. doi:10.22454/FamMed.2020.805215

Lead Author

Sarina Schrager, MD, MS

Affiliations: Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI

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