Established in 1946, The American Journal of Medicine (AJM), a monthly peer-reviewed medical chronicle affectionately known as the “green” journal, has proven nothing short of indispensable to my professional life for the better part of the last 50 years. Serving as the official journal of the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine, the AJM was there to inform and enlighten this intern, resident, and faculty member for all of five decades. What began as a subscription service to the monthly printed version of the AJM transitioned, in time, to reprint requests via Current Contents, and more recently, to an ever more powerful web-based platform. Now that a golden anniversary is in the cards, it is high time for a review of the seminal events that launched what turned out to be a lasting union. The circumstances leading up to my first encounter with the AJM and the attendant backdrop thereof, are the subject of some of the more impactful events in my professional life heretofore untold.
Having successfully completed my required coursework at the Tel Aviv University School of Medicine in October of 1972, I was assigned to commence my internship year at the Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, Israel. Hardly a household name at the time and barely a decade into its existence as a general hospital, the Meir Medical Center had yet to earn the stripes associated with some of its more hallowed counterparts such as the Sheba Tel Hashomer and Beilinson Hospitals. However, and as I was soon to find out, the newly established Meir Medical Center proved to be an impressive, and indeed highly sophisticated clinical and academic enterprise which successfully doubled up as a teaching hospital. It was also to be the locus of my very first encounter with the AJM.
Named after Dr. Josef Meir, director of the “ministry of health” such as it existed prior to the 1948 founding of the state of Israel, the Meir Medical Center served the eastern Sharon plain and its highly diverse populace of Israeli Arabs and Jews. Affiliated with the Tel Aviv University School of Medicine and accredited by The Joint Commission, the Meir Medical Center was a full-service teaching hospital the leading areas of excellence of which included, but were not limited to Hematology, Endocrinology, Nephrology, and Surgery to name a few. Led by academically committed, clinically astute Department Chairs, the Meir Medical Center punched well above its weight.
It was not long after I arrived at the Meir Medical Center to attend to my newly assigned responsibilities that I discovered the hospital's library, the very existence of which attested to the academic spirit of the institution. Tucked away on the first floor of the main hospital building, away from the tumult of the main entry way and the emergency room, the library stood out as a calm academic haven. Spacious and inviting, the library was generously stacked with shelves upon which the medical journals of the day were routinely featured. It was here that I first encountered the AJM which was prominently displayed in all its “green” splendor in a manner which could hardly be missed. Highly regarded and routinely cited, the AJM was nothing short of an academic fixture during teaching rounds at the time. One could hardly afford to miss an issue of the journal for fear of displaying one's ignorance during the daily patient care visits. Though hardly in a position to afford the AJM's hefty subscription fee, I went ahead and subscribed anyway with an eye towards skirting the cardinal sin of academic obsolescence.
The aforementioned idyll was abruptly interrupted on October 6, 1973, by the onset of the “Yom Kippur” war. An armed conflict between Israel and a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria, the war would last through October 25th at which point a ceasefire was internationally imposed. Having been called up to serve in the military reserve force, I spent the next six months in the Sinai Peninsula during which time my former life as an intern at the Meir Medical Center seemed like a distant dream. It was not before I resumed my professional training, this time in Boston MA, that I reconnected with the AJM. A 50-year partnership, fortified by trials, was underway yet again.
As could have been surmised by now, the Meir Medical Center was home to an impressive academically committed medical faculty. Though too numerous to mention, special note must be made of Aron Gutman, MD, an Endocrinologist and an AJM devotee who chaired one of the three local Departments of Internal Medicine. A mentor like no other, Professor Gutman was personally responsible for seeing to my first hospital-wide “Grand Rounds” presentation. Additional teaching engagements in regional contexts followed before too long. It was under Professor Gutman's guidance and with his encouragement that I proceeded to submit my very first paper for consideration for publication with the AJM. Though unsuccessful in securing an acceptance, I was hardly discouraged. Indeed, the following years witnessed multiple (if uniformly unsuccessful) additional submissions to the AJM. It was not until 2011 that a paper of mine finally saw press in the AJM. Written in the wake of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the paper - ” The Affordable Care Act: Facing Up to the Power of the Pen and the Purse” - dealt with the early challenges to the very survival of this historic legislation.
The AJM, all of one year younger than I, served me well for the duration of my heretofore 50-year medical career. Indications are that it will continue to do so well into the future. Now that 2023 beckons, it is time to recognize what has been and remains an enriching partnership that is about to cross the half-century mark. No other medical journal, and that includes specialty counterparts now nipping at my heels, is in a position to make similar claims of longevity. It follows that my 50-year association with AJM is an anniversary worthy of this special recognition.
Declaration of Competing Interest
The author declares no conflict of interest.
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