Ten years ago Ron Cunningham, then Director of Communications for the American College of Emergency Physicians, was looking for a way to bring some new ideas and creativity into the monthly newsletter for our members, ACEP News. He wanted to create an Editorial Advisory Board, a group of members who would be a source of innovative thinking. I had been writing for the publication from time to time. Some of the articles had been on topics in ethics, some – coauthored with medical journalist Jeanne Lenzer – on clinical controversies. I eagerly accepted Ron’s invitation to serve on the new editorial board. Over the next two years my role with the publication expanded, first as I became associate editor to help Linda Lawrence sort through the clinical content our new publisher, Elsevier, was offering, and then taking over when Dr. Lawrence moved up in ACEP leadership.
The partnership with Elsevier transformed ACEP News from a monthly source of news about what ACEP was doing to a newspaper brimming with clinical content, full of reporting about presentations being made at medical meetings. It was my job to choose material that was relevant to the practice of emergency medicine and to make sure the quality of information was high. It had to be “news you can use.”
My partners on the Elsevier side (later Frontline Medical Communications), managing editors Terry Rudd, Leanne Sullivan, and (most recently) Mark Lesney, should all be sainted for putting up with me. I doubt they had ever worked with a medical editor with such a low threshold for declaring a scientific study presented at a conference to be absolute rubbish. But I thought if a study was not worthy of publication in a peer reviewed journal with high standards, it did not merit the attention of our readers. ACEP News was not formally a peer-reviewed journal, but I was determined to do the best I could, even though I was but a single peer, to keep “rubbish” from appearing before the eyes of ACEP members.
In the last few years I have been writing some editorial commentary to accompany a few of the articles. Other members of the editorial board have also been engaged in this effort to offer some perspective on the science. Readers have liked this, and I must say it’s been fun doing it.
In April 2011, I attended a conference, held annually at the University of Iowa, called “The Examined Life: Writing and the Art of Medicine.” It inspired me to start a blog, and after I’d been writing essays for a while, a few ACEP leaders decided selected pieces would be of interest to our readers. The title – of the blog and the new column – was an allusion to a whimsical remark made many years ago at an ACEP Council meeting by future AAEM founder Bob McNamara, who referred to “the wisdom of Solomon” when he followed me at a microphone during a debate.