The BCMJ website

The BCMJ website was launched in November 2000. It initially contained the full text of only the clinical articles, but gradually online content was increased, and as of July/August 2007, the full text of the journal is online. The website was rebuilt in 2018. Content on the BCMJ website is accessible free of charge. 

Copyright for articles published prior to January 2022 is held by the Association of Doctors of BC, the BCMJ’s publisher/owner. For articles published from January 2022 onward, copyright is held by the article’s authors or their institutions under the Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license

History of the British Columbia Medical Journal

First published in 1959, the BC Medical Journal is a general medical journal governed by an Editorial Board of physicians from numerous disciplines. It is published by Doctors of BC.

In 2024 the journal entered its 66th year of publication. Throughout its history, the journal has chronicled the evolution of the medical profession and documented amazing advances in medical science. Through editorial continuity over the years, the journal has maintained its scientific relevance, upheld a high standard of publishing excellence, and preserved an objective that existed at its inception: “…to strengthen the ideals of unity and organization among members of the profession.”

The history of the BCMJ stretches back much further than the time it has spent in its current incarnation. The roots of the journal originate with the publication of the Vancouver Medical Association Bulletin, which began publishing in October, 1924. In its 34 years of publication, the circulation of the Bulletin grew from approximately 700 to 2680.

In 1957, as advertising revenues dropped, the Bulletin ceased to be profitable for the VMA, and a committee was formed of representatives from the VMA, the BCMA (now Doctors of BC), and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC to discuss the future of the publication. The committee decided to rename the publication the British Columbia Medical Journal, and an agreement was struck wherein the VMA would own the publication, the editor would receive a salary, and the BCMA would pay for space within its pages.

The first issue of the BC Medical Journal was published in January 1959, and although the publication flourished, the original arrangement ultimately did not work out. Over the next few years advertising revenues continued to drop, and in January 1963 the BC Medical Association, anxious to have its own publication, took ownership of the journal.

The ownership and management of the journal by the BC Medical Association/Doctors of BC brought about many changes to the image of the publication. January 1968 saw the journal change from a 6 1/2" x 9 1/2" format to the now-standard magazine size. In 1973 the journal adopted a new design, casting off the formal image of previous decades, and displaying a new look and logo.

The journal’s current cover artist, Jerry Wong, came on board with the BCMJ in 1982. Jerry began his tenure with the publication with a bang, winning two awards for his direction of the photography of his first cover in March of that year. The cover was the first of hundreds of creative designs that have graced the cover of the journal over the years.

Throughout all the changes brought about over the course of time, the journal has seen surprisingly little change in its editorial leadership. Since its inception in 1924 as the VMA Bulletin, the journal has had only six editors. The position has consistently attracted individuals who have displayed a remarkable level of commitment to the publication, and who, in some cases, maintained truly impressive tenures.

Founding editor Dr J.M. Pearson helmed the VMA Bulletin from 1924 to 1932, when Dr Jack MacDermot took over the position. Dr MacDermot, who would spend an astounding 34 years as editor, oversaw the transition from the Bulletin to the BC Medical Journal in 1959, and stayed with the journal for 9 more years before handing over the reins to Dr Sid Hobbs in 1968. Dr Hobbs supervised publication for a decade, and was succeeded in 1978 by Dr A.F. Hardyment, who after 8 years as editor was followed by Dr W.A. Dodd in 1986. Dr Dodd spent 7 years in the position, after which Dr James A. (Jim) Wilson took over the job in December of 1993. Dr Wilson retired in August 2008 with 14 years as editor under his belt. Dr David Richardson became editor in 2008 and retired from the role in May 2022, again after 14 years of service. Dr Caitlin Dunne, who joined the Editorial Board in July 2019, became the editor in September 2022.

Much as there has been little editorial change over the years, other aspects of the journal have also remained static despite (or perhaps thanks to) all the technological advances in the publishing industry in the past half century. When the first edition of the journal was published in 1959, the Editorial Board had seven members, the same as today. Although circulation has increased from 2680 to approximately 16 000, the number of Doctors of BC staff dedicated to the production of the journal has increased by only one person, for a total of three full-time employees. And the cost of each issue to members, which is supplemented by advertising revenues, has remained static for the past 37 years, costing the same in 1985 as it does today: $2 per issue. 

This long history of editorial and publishing excellence has firmly established the journal as a scientifically credible publication proven to be relevant to its readership. The British Columbia Medical Journal remains committed to the objectives stated so many years ago by the VMA Bulletin (1924): “to strive to strengthen the ideals of unity and organization within the BCMA membership” as well as to “build a good and useful medical journal” (1959).

In 2023 the Editorial Board renewed the journal’s mission statement, respecting the past while looking toward the future.