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I congratulate the Scientific Editor at Canadian Family Physician (CFP) on the inaugural CFP editorial fellowship.1 I would like to take the opportunity to inform readers about the position of Publications Fellow at Australian Family Physician (AFP), which has been in place since 2007.
In Australia family physicians are known as general practitioners and the doctors in the training program are referred to as registrars. In the Australian General Practice Training Program there are academic posts that are funded centrally and allocated via a competitive application process. These positions have existed for many years and traditionally have been used for 12-month half-time appointments with university departments of general practice, which involve a mix of research and teaching. The registrars also work in half-time clinical practice. These positions are accredited as part of the training program.
A past Editor-in-Chief of AFP and an inaugural applicant identified that there were no opportunities for training in medical editing. A successful application was made for an academic post that combined a post of Publications Fellow at AFP (1 day a week) with a post at a university department (which included teaching and research 1 to 1.5 days a week). The inaugural fellow, who was based in Melbourne (as is the AFP office), had an article published about medical journals2 (completed as part of the post). Other fellows have been based in Darwin and Canberra (cities more than 3000 km and 650 km from Melbourne, respectively) and, after an initial combination of orientation and regular visits, have completed the fellowship remotely for most of the AFP element, while based at a local university’s department of general practice for the other elements. The AFP fellowship training covers similar areas as those described for the CFP editorial fellowship.1
At present we have 2 publications fellows at the journal. There are 3 registrars who have completed the fellowship: one is a Medical Editor at AFP, the second, having edited another publication, will soon rejoin AFP as a Medical Editor, and the third is a Medical Educator. These positions are combined with part-time roles in clinical work.
Overall, we believe the position of Publications Fellow has been highly successful for both the participants and AFP, as well as for medical editing in general. Perhaps the position will offer another model for those looking to establish future posts.