Dr Pat Rebbeck: One of the good guys

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 46, No. 6, July August 2004, Page 268 Editorials

A few years ago we started the Good Guys section in the BCMJ and wrote a couple of articles about individuals who had made a difference, and we invited you to follow suit. However, the entreaty never tapped much of a wellspring of subject material, and I suspect most of us are a little reluctant to write nice biographical stuff about close friends for fear of sounding sappy.

Well, in spite of my own fear of appearing sappy, I’m going to write about a real pioneer whom I’ve known for many years. Dr Pat Rebbeck recently stepped down as editor emerita of the British Columbia Medical Journal. Pat had been a member of the BCMJ Editorial Board for 27 years, but in the past 8 years she had remained as editor emerita, which essentially means she did the same amount of work as everyone else but didn’t get paid for it.

Pat’s history starts in England where her family moved frequently (nine schools and three universities—England, Australia, and Scotland). Pat’s formal medical training took place in Scotland, but her parents were living and working in Montreal at the time of her graduation so she decided to intern there. At the end of her internship Pat decided that she wanted to be a surgeon, but there were no positions for her in Montreal so she came to Vancouver because of a contact that one of her mentors had. Pat traveled all the way to Vancouver essentially on a wing and a prayer, but a surgical position was available for her when she arrived and she became the first female surgical resident in Vancouver (the fourth female to be certified in general surgery in Canada). Actually, half way through her surgical residency Pat took 18 months off and went back to Britain and worked as a family doctor in Wales, but she became disenchanted with the NHS and headed back to Vancouver to finish her surgical training. After starting her surgical career in Vancouver, Pat fairly quickly gravitated to breast cancer and melanoma surgery and was a member of the breast cancer tumor group for more than 25 years. She taught medical students and surgical residents throughout her career, and about 10 years ago was made clinical professor emerita, an honor, it should be noted, that provides her with free parking at UBC. She was the first woman in numerous professional domains in this province, but to Pat the really important thing was that she was the first female teaching surgeon.

When Pat was forced to give up clinical practice a number of years ago because of extensive OA of her hands, she became a deputy registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC, a position she retired from in the past year or so. Prior to assuming the position of deputy registrar she had been a member of the College Board for many years (its first female member). During those extremely busy years as a highly regarded surgeon, college board member, clinical teacher, and Editorial Board member, Pat somehow found time to be a district representative to the BCMA.

When I asked Pat about her many firsts, the one she related at the start of the list was that she had introduced the pantsuit to St. Vincent’s Hospital. The nurses had been prevented from wearing them up to that point by the nuns who ran the hospital, and they were forever grateful that Pat had been resolute in the face of official disapproval and forced the nun-managers to change their policy.

Pat is currently working a few days a week on contract at the College and she remains an alternate emerita board member with the BCMJ, but I will miss her incisive reviews of manuscripts, her biting humor, and her big intellect. During her tenure Pat has illuminated the Editorial Board and the readers of this publication with the excellence of her clinical experience, the unselfishness of her dedication to medical education, and the strength of her ethical core. Pat Rebbeck is a pioneer in every sense of the word, and every physician in this province should be aware of what she has meant to the gender balance we now enjoy in our profession. I am proud that I can call her my friend.


James A. Wilson, MD. Dr Pat Rebbeck: One of the good guys. BCMJ, Vol. 46, No. 6, July, August, 2004, Page(s) 268 - Editorials.

Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.

About the ICMJE and citation styles

The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.

An alternate version of ICMJE style is to additionally list the month an issue number, but since most journals use continuous pagination, the shorter form provides sufficient information to locate the reference. The NLM now lists all authors.

BCMJ standard citation style is a slight modification of the ICMJE/NLM style, as follows:

  • Only the first three authors are listed, followed by "et al."
  • There is no period after the journal name.
  • Page numbers are not abbreviated.

For more information on the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, visit www.icmje.org

BCMJ Guidelines for Authors

Leave a Reply