What is happening to our profession?

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 45, No. 3, April 2003, Page 116 Letters

In the mid-50s, when some of us were training to become doctors, we were often told that one of our roles in providing health care was to act as the patient’s advocate. This advice was repeated by all our dedicated clinical teachers (including the current premier’s father), and we were impressed by them as role models. Once medicare was established, the doctor-patient relationship was slowly and progressively eroded by the health care bureaucrats, who successfully used their position as the funding agency.

The past 30 years has seen good, personal health care delivery deteriorate due to inadequate funding and planning by all governments and political parties. As a result, the facilities and health care education for all professionals were underfunded and proper planning was ignored.

Advice from the professionals was dismissed as self-serving.

The result of this process is that the professionals lost control of their roles in the health care delivery system. The system is now being managed by nonmedical bureaucrats making all the decisions and advising the politicians as to what is right. Frequently, their decisions are based on biased health care economics, which are not in the interest of good patient care.

Now we are in a situation where all the members of the health care professions are competing with each other for funding. Even in our own profession there is disharmony due to inadequate funding.

What a sad situation!

Even worse, our patients are now being told by the politicians and their advisers that their traditional health care may no longer be available in their community. Patients are being falsely advised that care in some distant facility will be better, even if they are assigned to a different doctor in an unfamiliar surrounding.

This attitude is arrogant and inhumane; it would appear to be one of the final moves to destroy the traditional doctor-patient relationship.

Surely the time has come for the medical profession to unite and join with other health care professionals to resist this present government’s attempt to balance their books on the backs of the patients in BC.

Many doctors have already raised their voices in protest and have reacted against the new health care plans.

I hope that all of us in the profession, old and young, will unite and help return the profession to its proper role as an advocate and protector of good patient care. We should also seek a more significant role in the planning processes, rather than suffering the arrogant directions of the third-party bureaucrats.

It is time to reflect and act.

—Al Boggie, MD


After working in a general practice in Vernon for 14 years, Dr Boggie was one of the founding members of UBC Department of Family Practice, was associate dean, admissions, UBC Faculty of Medicine (1980–1988), president of the Medical Council of Canada (1989–1990), and a member of the Registration Committee, College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC (1975–1990).

Alexander Boggie, MD. What is happening to our profession?. BCMJ, Vol. 45, No. 3, April, 2003, Page(s) 116 - 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 www.icmje.org

BCMJ Guidelines for Authors

Leave a Reply