Published November 12, 2015
William Miller Johnstone III, MD, PhD, a trainee in the obstetrics and gynecology residency, has edited an issue of the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics on advances in gynecologic oncology.
The September issue examines ethical dilemmas including preserving fertility in adolescent girls with cancer, disclosing increased disease risk to patients’ family members and overcoming public resistance to the vaccine for human papillomavirus.
Opportunities to edit journals are often reserved for faculty members on editorial boards, Johnstone says. “It’s truly valuable to have this opportunity at this stage of my career.”
Johnstone went through a competitive process when applying as a guest editor for the journal. He was one of only 12 medical students and residents chosen to guest-edit special issues this year.
After being selected, he traveled to Chicago to meet with the journal’s senior editors and pitch ideas for his issue.
“I’d like to go into academic medicine, and publishing in journals is going to be a significant part of that. It has been beneficial to see how the editorial process proceeds,” he says.
Johnstone solicited 10 original articles for the issue. The authors include renowned physician-scientists.
“Reaching out to preeminent professionals in the field — networking with them, listening to their ideas and learning from them — was spectacular,” he says.
One article was written by Shashikant B. Lele, MD, UB clinical professor emeritus of obstetrics and gynecology and clinical chief of gynecologic oncology at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“Dr. Lele, who interviewed me when I applied to UB for residency, is a prominent name in the field of gynecologic oncology. He’s quite well-known throughout the world. I reached out to him, and he agreed to co-author a piece with Dr. J. Brian Szender, a fellow at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.”
Another author, Arthur L. Herbst, MD, from the University of Chicago, is recognized worldwide for his contributions to the field of obstetrics and gynecology, notes Johnstone.
“In the 1970s, he was one of the first people to realize that a drug for preventing miscarriages was causing unintended adverse consequences,” he says.
“Dr. Herbst’s work is a model for other researchers. He has won many awards and is widely respected, so it’s been invaluable to interact with figures like him — people who have been so influential in the field.”
Johnstone, who earned his medical degree from the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, became interested in ethical issues within gynecologic oncology during medical school.
He hopes to pursue a career in the field and says UB’s obstetrics and gynecology residency will help prepare him for fellowship training.
“We have a breadth of experience at two different hospitals, which prepares us well to be general practitioners. That being said, there are also opportunities afforded to us through the curriculum that let us explore our interests in the subspecialties.
“We rotate at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in our second year for one month and for two months during our third year. We also get good experience with private gynecologic oncology attending physicians.”