Happy 60th birthday to the writers, editors, designers, and all others who create the BC Medical Journal! This journal forms a common bond for the doctors of our province. In addition to presenting valued medical articles, the journal’s humanistic messages come through the often light-hearted editorials, and by way of submissions from my fellow physicians to the Letters, Premise, Good Doctor, and Special Feature sections. These sections offer readers medical history, biographies, comments about medical practice, and even humor. In contrast to the more pointed messages from the elected officials of our medical establishments, the stories on these special pages deliver their messages subliminally, so that they go directly to the readers’ hearts.
About 2 years ago I asked the editors if a collection of some of these special pages could be published in the form of an anthology. I was pointed to obvious reasons why this was not feasible. So, for my own education and pleasure, I thumbed through close to 300 back issues on the shelves of the College Library, searching for my targets. As a prize, I got a feel not only of the important repeated messages for care and humanism in the practice of medicine, but also a feel of the writers’ love of medicine as a profession.
Consider the article about early Canadian ships’ surgeons [1959;1:103-116]. The lengthy story was written by one of the founders of what is now the College Library, Dr W.D. Keith. “One fine summer morning in 1903 when I was walking north on the west side of Granville street,” is how this narrative starts about Dr A.T. Stanton, ship’s doctor on the Empress of China. Dr (and later Sir) Stanton and associates proved that beriberi was intimately associated with a diet of polished rice.
Or read and become riveted to the diaries of Dr Charles Gould, well-known Vancouver neurologist in the past, and his wife on their 5-year-long around the world sailing adventure on Astrocite III, faithfully recorded in the June 1968 issue.
Or just let yourself go with “The man who stopped the rain.” A story that stays with you about an old man who believed he was God, by Conrad Moralis, MD (pseudonym of the retired psychiatrist) in the May 2008 issue.
Then you might as well switch back to the January/February 2007 issue and read Dr Leslie Andrew’s humor: “When I told [my mother that] I wanted to be a stand up comedian she said: Comedian, schlamedian. Okay, but become a doctor first.”
Or read a series of Back Page articles by retired pediatric surgeon Dr Graham Fraser, recalling his experiences as a house surgeon in the UK.
Continue on by reading Dr Gerry Greenstone’s and Dr Christopher Morrant’s stories gathered from medical history, and then focus your attention on BC’s medical history by Dr C.E. McDonnel—a series commissioned by the then-BCMA’s centenary celebration committee in 2000.
Each of these artful pieces reminded me how far we have come in medicine in some ways, and how in other ways we have stayed the same. For proof of that you might read “A physician’s view of the future of health services” in the November 1967 issue, by one of our most distinguished members of the past and a past president of the then-BCMA, Dr Peter Banks.
Forward in time again to the March 1997 issue, and feel the pain of author Dr Mark H. Lupin, in “Physician suicide—where the system fails.” The article, dedicated to the memory of his brother, psychiatrist Dr Daniel Adam Lupin, begins: “Last summer, I lost my brother. I also lost my faith in our ability to care for each other.”
Dear BC Medical Journal, I thank you for triggering thoughts, feelings, ideas, and notions in my mind and heart, making me appreciate my medical teachers, my medical colleagues, and my medical training and experiences over and over again. I wish you a happy 60th birthday, and many more.
—George Szasz, CM, MD
This posting has not been peer reviewed by the BCMJ Editorial Board.