Nineteen characters in search of an author

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 44, No. 4, May 2002, Page 169 Letters

The scene: British Columbia today. A cast of thousands, discussing the state of health care and medical practice in the province.

Character #1: “Doctors are overpaid crybabies. All they want is more money and more respect. They should be on salary like any public servant.”

Character #2: “My parents really sacrificed for me to go to medical school. I’m proud of where I came from and what I do, and I’m happy that I made them proud too.”

Character #3: “Doctors are the most important part of our health care system. We should give them the respect and the income they deserve.”

Character #4: “These doctors are saps. Bill Bennett got them to back down from a fee increase in ’82, Harcourt did it in ’92, and we’ll get them to do it again.”

Character #5: “My husband always put his patients first. Too bad he couldn’t have felt the same about his family.”

Character #6: “Molecular medicine is the most stimulating area in medical research today—the potential for therapeutic advances is amazing, and I’m very excited to be a part of it.” 

Character #7: “I’m feeling just exhausted. I used to be able to see 50 patients a day, but the demand now is so great and I’m so tired.”

Character #8: “Doctors will work to reach the income level they need. If we cut back on their fees, they’ll work harder. Trust me.”

Character #9: “I have to see a female doctor. But none of them are taking any new patients.” 

Character #10: “I’ve had the most wonderful doctors—my surgery went without a hitch and I’ve had no pain now for months. They are worth every penny they’re paid.”

Character #11: “I favor just giving doctors the funding and infrastructure they need to do their job, and leaving them to get on with it.”

Character #12: “My time’s valuable too, you know—and I’ve been sitting in your waiting room for 45 minutes already.”

Character #13: “I feel sorry for the doctors and what the government did to them. But my mother’s condition just gets worse and worse.”

Character #14: “This is the best place in the world to live, and I have a good income from my practice. I have no complaints.”

Character #15: “I can’t take it any more. I’ve got a classmate who’s been asking me for years to join him in Massachusetts—well, I’m off.”

Character #16: “Nurses could do most of the work of doctors—at a fraction of the price.”

Character #17: “What do you mean, I need to see you about this? Can’t you just phone it in?”

Character #18: “Our hospital is a vital part of our community, and so are our doctors. We need more of them.”

Character #19: “I’m almost 60, and I always figured I’d be thinking about retirement about now. But not any more.”


Author’s note: Character #11 is our current premier, in conversation with some of us in April 2001.

. Nineteen characters in search of an author. BCMJ, Vol. 44, No. 4, May, 2002, Page(s) 169 - Letters.

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

BCMJ Guidelines for Authors

Leave a Reply