Editors’ Blog

is Deputy Editor at CMAJ


Rising awareness of the toll that is taking on our profession and our healthcare services has inspired numerous organizational physician wellness initiatives and resilience courses aimed at individual physicians. Yet, as experts discuss the of the system-level approach vs. the individual-wellness-training approach to addressing burnout, one key element seems to be all-but ignored: the healing power of the relationship between physicians and the patients they serve.

Dr. Tom Hutchinson, in his book, Whole Person Care: Transforming Healthcare (Springer International Publishing AG, 2017), suggests that we have lost touch with “the interior processes of healing and growth in the individual patient and the practitioner that give meaning to illness and to healthcare,” ...continue reading

is a CMAJ Associate Editor and a professor of primary care in Northern Ireland, UK.


A normal day for Dr. Pierre Pili may involve being helicoptered up to a glacier in the Alps, and then lowered by cable 30m down into a crevasse to assess and treat casualties. Few of us see patients in such a difficult and unforgiving environment but this is Pili’s consulting room. A mountain rescue doctor based in Chamonix, he is involved in about 1500 rescues per year, and when not on the mountain, he works as an emergency medicine doctor.

On his first rescue he was called to help two skiers who had fallen deep into an Alpine crevasse. One was dead and one was seriously injured. Pili talks about the mixed fear and excitement of doing this work ...continue reading

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is a CMAJ Associate Editor and a professor of primary care in Northern Ireland, UK. He's currently also Chair of the Jury for the National Research Award of the


Swiss primary care research has a very bright future, from what I could see at the early career researchers meeting (TAN HAM) that I attended recently in Bern. put together a superb programme but the key to its success was the commitment and contribution of the researchers. It was their programme and, not only did they present their work with skill and style, and almost exclusively in English, but each research presentation was chaired by one of their peers as the senior academics looked on from the side lines. The presentations were fantastic, covering a range of topics, as described below. But I thought the peer chaired sessions were an innovation worth replicating at other national and international meetings.

Many countries are struggling to recruit and retain a family medicine workforce and Switzerland is little different. ...continue reading


is a CMAJ Associate Editor and a professor of primary care in Northern Ireland, UK.


In my capacity as Chair of the Jury for the National Research Award of the , I was recently invited to give a Plenary lecture at the Early Career Researchers Academic meeting for academic primary care physicians in Bern, Switzerland. I enjoyed listening to other great speakers at the event. One was , a professional writer, who, in addition to her many other talents and accomplishments, works as a senior Editor, grant writer and qualitative researcher at the Institute for Primary Care Medicine at the University of Bern. Kali gave a workshop on research writing at the recent early career researchers’ group meeting.

Many researchers struggle with writing research papers, grants and reports. ...continue reading


is Deputy Editor at CMAJ


This post really needs no introduction. First came #WomenBoycottTwitter when Twitter straightjacketed Rose McGowan and women reacted angrily to what they felt was unfair ‘victim silencing’. But many pointed out the irony and probable ineffectiveness of self-imposed silence to protest enforced silence. Then yesterday my social media feeds were full of the hashtag #MeToo along with story after story after story from women friends, of sexual harassment, abuse and unwanted physical attention. Women I look up to; tough women…the sort about whom you might think, “It would never happen to them.” Lawyers, a chemistry professor, a neuroscientist, respected colleagues in medical research.

Last week, writer , “When did you meet YOUR Harvey Weinstein? I’ll go first…,” which has tens of thousands of replies and ‘quote’ retweets and prompted "The number of replies to this tweet is insane. As men we have to do better to stop this."

came through my Twitter feed,

Regularly in the Operating Room when surgeons would approach from behind while I was 'scrubbing' at the sink, hence unable to move.

...continue reading

is Deputy Editor at CMAJ


In the last two weeks I’ve attended three very different scientific conferences on behalf of the CMAJ Group. In fact you couldn’t get more different than the (ICPE - all Big Data and massive record linkage aimed at finding out more about the benefits and harms of medicines and devices) and the (mainly focusing on the major problem of physician burnout and what we should do about it). And yet the same study was mentioned by plenary speakers at both conferences to support the same message: that physicians are overburdened by administrative and data-capture demands. Across four medical specialties, “for every hour physicians provide direct clinical face time to patients, nearly 2 additional hours is spent on EHR and desk work within the clinic day,” ...continue reading

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is a CMAJ Associate Editor and a professor of primary care in Northern Ireland, UK


Have we lost something in the success of academic family medicine? We produce quality research, have created successful interdisciplinary academic teams, demonstrate competitive publication outcomes and generate significant grant income. But, academic primary care may have drifted away from, and perhaps even alienated, some family medicine colleagues. There are thoughtful and reflective family doctors who read, write, discuss and debate many aspects of general practice but feel undervalued as they do not fit the university based academic profile. ...continue reading

is a CMAJ Associate Editor and a professor of primary care in Northern Ireland, UK


Was I wrong!

Pioneering Professional Practice doesn’t sound like the most stimulating title of a Plenary Address but Chair of the UK's Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Council, gave an uplifting, encouraging and inspiring address on the topic on day 2 of the 2017. Helen encouraged us all to rediscover the joy and sparkle of general practice despite poor morale, a constant feeling of being under siege, and increasing resource limitations in the profession. I liked her analogy that primary care, secondary care and social care were interdependent and need to be together- a three legged stool that depended on all three components to remain stable. ...continue reading

is a CMAJ Associate Editor and a professor of primary care in Northern Ireland, UK


Shakespeare’s Warwickshire was the background to last week's 46th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society of Academic Primary Care () where Professor , introduced the meeting by emphasising the importance of primary care in the development of their young medical school. She also underlined her belief in the transformational power of universities and how their contribution to academic medicine can alter clinical practice.

It saddened me that her optimism and enthusiasm contrasted with the stark reality of general practice as outlined by , Director of Policy at the Nuffield Trust ...continue reading

is editor of News and Humanities at CMAJ, and author of the recently published collection of short stories, ""


Health policy pundits should look to ’s new book for a dose of common sense on some of Canada’s most urgent health issues. Picard, as most Canadians know, is the long-time health columnist for The Globe and Mail. The book, Matters of Life and Death: Public Health Issues in Canada (Douglas & McIntyre), is the best-of those columns over the past 15 years, updated and conveniently packaged under 14 topic headings like opioid use, medical assistance in dying, cancer, marijuana, indigenous health and infectious disease. Most importantly Picard delves into medicare itself.  Canadians spent $228-billion in 2016 on health care: Do we get value for our money? Is it sustainable? Picard not only asks the right questions, he provides some very credible answers. ...continue reading