Expectations Exceeded

A look back at Mark Williams’, MD tenure as JHM’s first editor-in-chief

When HM pioneers identified potential candidates to become editor-in-chief of a new peer-reviewed journal dedicated to their specialty, they found themselves working from a short list. The term “hospitalist” had been part of the American healthcare lexicon for less than a decade, and only a select few in the young field possessed the leadership, management experience, and research credibility to fill the role.

Mark Williams, MD, FACP, FHM, then a professor and director of the hospital medicine unit at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, met the criteria. He also demonstrated two attributes that distinguished him from other finalists. First, he understood the Journal of Hospital Medicine’s mission, having led an SHM task force that created a development plan for the publication. More importantly, he had the personality to sell JHM as a valuable tool for researchers and frontline hospitalists long before the first issue rolled off the press, says Robert Wachter, MD, MHM, professor and associate chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), chief of the division of hospital medicine and chief of medical service at UCSF Medical Center, and one of the HM leaders who advocated for the journal’s launch.

“The early phase is particularly tricky in that you are trying to get an entire specialty interested in something that is conceptual,” Dr. Wachter says. “If you can’t, you don’t ever develop the momentum to build the thing you’re talking about. If you can, you get people excited and jazzed about it before it’s real, so when it becomes real, you have accomplished, talented people truly engaged. The latter was the experience with Mark.”

Dr. Williams did more than generate excitement. He assembled a diverse editorial team and developed a comprehensive content plan that, over the next six years, helped JHM evolve into a frequently cited, well-respected publication.

“It has exceeded my expectations,” Dr. Wachter says, “and my expectations were pretty high.”

SHM president Jeff Wiese, right, presents outgoing JHM editor-in-chief Mark Williams a commemorative plaque at HM11 in Dallas.

Getting Off the Ground

By the turn of the century, HM achieved many of the milestones its leaders believed were necessary to solidify itself as a specialty—it had formed a society, published textbooks, and held regular conferences. The next step, they believed, was the launch of a peer-reviewed journal.

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