Thoughts From Your Colleagues
What Role for Medical Students?
I am very disappointed that EyeNet has instituted a new policy not allowing medical students as authors for its “Ophthalmic Pearls” and “Morning Rounds” sections. The only exception to this policy is the very limited “Blink” photo essay.
I have previously had numerous submissions of Morning Rounds published with medical students. It has been wonderful seeing their excitement when their name is part of a published article. These have been a fantastic way to encourage interest in ophthalmology by providing a diverse group of students with the opportunity to research and write about eye-related topics while learning about medical publishing.
One reason for the policy change, I am told, is due to additional editorial time that a few poorly written student-authored articles have required. Painting a broad brush for all students when, in fact, it’s the overseeing ophthalmologist who is ultimately responsible for the quality of what is submitted, is a mistake. Additional concerns about complex information being presented incorrectly have been alleviated by the new policy to require subspecialty co-authorship.
I teach medical students as part of a clinical medical school appointment, and there is no opportunity to work with residents, the nearest programs being hours away. This policy is eliminating a previous opportunity for me to promote medical student interest in ophthalmology through researching and writing about eye-related topics. The policy is elitist because only academic departments with residents will submit these articles. The Academy and EyeNet are sending a terrible message to clinical ophthalmologists who teach and want to encourage potential future ophthalmologists.
Steve Gerber, MD
Indiana University School of Medicine
South Bend, Indiana
Editor’s note. The changes in 2021 to EyeNet’s authorship policies were made to reflect the depth and breadth of clinical knowledge required to discuss the diagnosis, surgical and medical treatment options, and risks associated with managing complex ophthalmic disease. While medical students are adept at developing fact-based content, they cannot be expected to have the clinical expertise to contextualize information for our readers.
The Academy appreciates its physician volunteers and thanks Dr. Gerber for his submissions to EyeNet and for promoting ophthalmology among medical students. The Academy encourages medical students to explore its resources at aao.org/medical-students and aao.org/minority-mentoring. And EyeWiki is an option for medical students who wish to publish online (aao.info/ewms).
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