In late 1999, I was asked by Contemporary OB/GYN’s founding Editor-in-Chief, Dr. John Queenan, to join its Editorial Board. It was an unexpected honor and just a bit intimidating given that the Board was a veritable “who’s who” of ob/gyn greats. I quickly realized that the twin pillars of the magazine’s success were John’s inspirational leadership and the quality, sagacity, and editorial independence of that board. For 25 years, Dr. Queenan had been a master at picking the COG board members who, in turn, identified key topics, emerging trends and outstanding authors. John led their deliberations, added his own prescient ideas and, of course, crafted truly memorable editorials.
The next year, I was stunned when John asked me to become COG’s second Editor-in-Chief. I have enjoyed my time in this post immensely. Fortunately, I strictly followed John’s “recipe” by assembling a great board, a number of whom have been with me since the start, including Drs. Joe Leigh Simpson, Paula Adams Hillard, and Sharon Phelan. I was blessed to be able to add other leaders in the field including my old friends Joshua Copel from Yale, one of the true greats in obstetrical ultrasound, and Sarah Kilpatrick, Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles and an expert in medical complications of pregnancy. Newer friends joined including Drs. John Delancey, a pioneer and leader in urogynecology; Ilana Cass, a brilliant gynecologic oncologist and now Chair of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Dartmouth; Chris Pettker, a leader in the patient safety movement from Yale; and Steve Ory, a master clinician and reproductive endocrinologist from Florida International University in Miami. I was also lucky enough to recruit Dr. Jon Einarsson, an international authority in minimally invasive gynecological surgery from Harvard, as Deputy Editor. What great success the magazine has enjoyed over the past two decades is largely due to these wonderful folks as well as their predecessors, including giants like Drs. Leon Speroff and Ed Wallach.
Perhaps the most daunting task over the past two decades has been coming up with ideas for editorials. Some concepts were obvious, like telling the story of 9/11 from the perspective of my patients at NYU and Bellevue Hospital. Others were inspired by the recurrent professional liability crisis, onerous new government regulations, political threats to women’s reproductive health, rapidly changing healthcare financing, physician burnout, and the challenges of residency training. However, most reflected bread and butter clinical topics including the safety of vaginal breech deliveries and trials of labor after prior cesareans, the causes of maternal mortality and preterm birth, the appropriate use of antenatal corticosteroids, misoprostol and low molecular weight heparin, and screening for thrombophilias, genetic disorders, Group B streptococcus and gestational diabetes. Gyn topics included postmenopausal hormone therapy, new contraceptives, screening for cervical cancer, and the need to encourage human papillomavirus vaccination. While I have not shied away from controversial topics, I have also tried to tell stories from the perspective of busy clinicians.
And I have been honored to receive a number of national publishing awards for these editorials, including three prestigious Jesse H. Neal Awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors, as well as two Gold Awards for Editorials and an Award in the Editorial/Editor’s Letter category from the American Society of Healthcare Publication Editors. My approach to writing has been simple: find a topic I was interested in or passionate about, critically review all relevant literature, and then sit down and write. I do hope my editorials have helped shape ob/gyn practice in positive ways. I have certainly enjoyed hearing from readers, who have not been shy about providing feedback in person, by phone, by e-mails, through formal letters to the editor, and more recently, via social media.
It is hard to imagine it’s been 20 years. I have truly enjoyed every minute. But this seems like a propitious time to pass the Editor-in-Chief “baton” to someone from the next generation of ob/gyn leaders who can provide a different perspective and their own passion. Over the next few months, the magazine will select a new leader and I am sure they can maintain COG’s extraordinary success over the past 45 years if they also follow John Queenan’s tried and true formula.
In closing, I want to thank our dedicated, brilliant, and very witty past and present editorial board members. I am also incredibly grateful to my terrific managing editors, including Judy Orvos, Paul Cerrato, Susan Olmstead, and Linda Wetzel, whose professionalism and sage counsel have been invaluable. Finally, I want to thank our wonderful readers, who were my inspiration.