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Can Fam Physician. 2010 September; 56(9): 849.
PMCID: PMC2939100

Canadian Family Physician editorial fellowship

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We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945)

Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises.

Demosthenes (384–322 BC)

It is a shocking fact that many medical journal editors have little or no formal training in medical editing when they begin their careers. A 1998 survey study of editors-in-chief of medical specialty journals revealed that 45% of respondents had no formal training in editing skills.1 Things would not be much different if the survey were carried out today.

The write path

In my case, involvement in family medicine research and writing led to an interest in medical editing. An interest in medical editing led to a part-time position as an Associate Editor at Canadian Family Physician (CFP), beginning in January 2008. A very short apprenticeship (less than a year) led to the opportunity to become Scientific Editor, with the departure of my predecessor, Dr Diane Kelsall, to the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) in 2009. Dr Kelsall was an experienced and talented medical editor, having worked in addition to her time with CFP for several years as the editor of Informed, a well-respected publication of the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto, Ont. I was also fortunate in that short time to work with and learn from an experienced editorial team.

Surprisingly, there are still very few opportunities for training in medical editing anywhere. Currently there are only 6 medical editing fellowships that have a medical degree as a prerequisite. These are sponsored by the Journal of the American Medical Association,2 the New England Journal of Medicine,3 the CMAJ,4 American Family Physician,5 Annals of Emergency Medicine,6 and the Radiological Society of North America.7 American Family Physician is the only family medicine journal that offers this kind of training and experience. It is time that changed.

It is clear that medical editorial fellowships are an effective way to build capacity. Twenty-three people have held the prestigious Fishbein Fellowship at the Journal of the American Medical Association since its inception in 1977, and more than half of these individuals have spent some or all of their later careers in medical publishing and communications.2 One former fellow has been the editor-in-chief of 2 medical journals. Similarly, the much newer CMAJ editorial fellowship has produced several graduates who have gone on to work as medical editors (eg, Eric Wooltorton at CMAJ, Stephen Choi at Open Medicine) or in medical journalism and writing (eg, Sally Murray and James Maskalyk).

Family medicine has grown as a discipline in several ways over the past decade. One of the most important developments has been the tremendous growth of family medicine research and scholarship in Canada.8 Canadian Family Physician must strive to match these developments in family medicine. One critical way is to begin to train future editors of our national journal.

Welcome opportunity

To that end, CFP is pleased to announce the inauguration of an editorial fellowship and to introduce our first fellow, Dr Jessica Fulton. Dr Fulton completed her undergraduate degree in life sciences at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. She received her doctor of medicine degree at the University of Toronto and recently completed her residency in family medicine at Women’s College Hospital at the University of Toronto. Dr Fulton joins CFP as a part-time Associate Editor for 1 year and will be involved in all aspects of the journal’s production, participating in the screening of manuscripts, all aspects of the peer-review process, as well as taking on medical editing projects on behalf of the journal. Welcome, Dr Fulton.


Cet article se trouve aussi en français à la page 851.

Competing interests

None declared


1. Garrow J, Butterfield M, Marshall J, Williamson A. The reported training and experiences of editors in chief of specialist clinical medical journals. JAMA. 1998;280(3):286–7. [PubMed]
2. Meyer C, Glass RM. JAMA’s Fishbein Fellowship. Sci Ed. 2004;27(6):202.
3. Schraeder TL. NEJM fellowship: the ultimate journal club. Sci Ed. 2005;28(4):141–2.
4. CMAJ [website] CMAJ editorial fellowship. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Medical Association; 2005. Available from: Accessed 2010 Jul 15.
5. American Academy of Family Physicians Medical editing/faculty development fellowship. Available from: Accessed 2010 Jul 15.
6. Resident Editorial Board fellowship appointment. Ann Emerg Med. 2007;49(6):832–3.
7. Soglin MI. The RSNA editorial fellowship. Sci Ed. 2002;25(4):137–8.
8. Pimlott N. Family medicine research and CFP. Can Fam Physician. 2010;56:213, 215. Eng. (Fr). [PMC free article] [PubMed]

Articles from Canadian Family Physician are provided here courtesy of College of Family Physicians of Canada