A Letter to “The Editors”

William Dabbs, MD

PRiMER. 2020;4:6.

Published: 4/28/2020 | DOI: 10.22454/PRiMER.2020.810434

To "The Editors":

I recently had the privilege of attending the 2020 STFM Conference on Medical Student Education in Portland, Oregon. As a musician from Tennessee, I was excited to visit the city known for its outstanding independent music scene. What I did not know, however, is that in addition to the conference sessions I would attend learning about health equity, improving precepting, and working with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services changes, I would also attend the first public performance of “The Editors” (comprised of members of the PRiMER editorial team!).

Truthfully, there were higher-billed acts in Portland that evening that a keener, more hipster ear may have found worthier of seeing, but I am happy that I attended this performance. The session itself was billed as an “informal jam” and an “allegory for medical education research on a shoestring budget.”1 It was each of these things, but it was also an inspiration. For those in attendance, watching the members of The Editors coalesce was a treat. Their repertoire ranged from the perennial crowd favorite, “Don’t Stop Believin,’” to the undisputed hospice and palliative medicine physicians’ favorite, “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” Undisputedly, their best decision was including likely the highest-charting song mentioning a family doctor, “Good Lovin’”! The Young Rascals' version reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart in April 1966, predating our specialty by only a few years.2,3

Although it seemed some of The Editors were more in their comfort zones and some may have been further removed, each performer contributed to the whole, and I believe that demonstrating this was exactly their intent. As physicians and educators, it is acceptable and appropriate for us all to be both comfortable and uncomfortable. We rely on the strength of others, or being that strength for the success of our combined purpose like a rhythm section supports the lead singer. As younger musicians cover classic songs with their own interpretations, we also look for the wisdom and guidance in those who came before and inspiration from thought leaders and young catalysts who keep pushing us further. Ultimately, like the audience enjoys a performance and the band feeds on the energy of the crowd, it is the passion and support, from everyone on the frontline to the preeminent voices, that encourage and inspire us all to continue promoting our specialty and the health of the population every day.

Although this may have been the first performance for this lineup, I hope it was not the last. I give the performance five stars: rock on!


  1. Society of Teachers of Family Medicine. The Editors: An Informal Band Jam Session Brought to You by PRiMER. 2020 STFM Conference on Medical Student Education Program. https://www.stfm.org/media/2499/mse20brochuresingles_v10.pdf. Accessed February 17, 2020.
  2. The Hot 100: Week of April 30, 1966.  Billboard. billboard.com/charts/hot-100/1966-04-30. Accessed February 17, 2020.
  3. American Board of Family Medicine. History of ABFM. https://www.theabfm.org/about/ABFM-history. Accessed February 17, 2020.

Lead Author

William Dabbs, MD

Affiliations: University of Tennessee Medical Center - Family Medicine, Knoxville, TN

Corresponding Author

William Dabbs, MD

Correspondence: University of Tennessee Medical Center - Family Medicine, 1924 Alcoa Hwy, #U67, Knoxville, TN 37920. 865-305-5056. Fax: 865-305-9314

Email: wdabbs@utmck.edu

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By John Epling  /  Posted 4/29/2020

To the Editor, I read with interest the letter by Dr. Dabbs concerning the evening presentation entitled "The Editors: An Informal Band Jam Session Brought to You by PRiMER" at the STFM Conference on Medical Student Education in February 2020. In full disclosure, I am one of the editors (journal) and one of the editors (band). While I am grateful for Dr. Dabbs' kind words and enthusiasm for the experience, I am concerned that committed an error of omission in his letter - the omission of the details of his own participation. He was one of a small group of STFM attendees that overcame their concern about public ridicule (much as "The Editors" had only the day before), and joined in on the keyboards. His contributions were vital on tunes by Elton John, Bruce Springsteen and others. Throughout the evening, he exhibited a joie-de-vivre and devil-may-care attitude that buoyed The Editors at the end of their set when the rehearsed numbers ended and the vast abyss of the improv section loomed. The editors are indebted to all those who participated in our presentation. Rock on, indeed! John Epling Associate Editor, Bassist

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