Radiation Oncology’s Rat Pack

By Raina Keefer

RadOnc Rat PackJournal clubs thrive within the halls of medicine and have done so for centuries. The process of coming together with a critical, evidence-based eye to survey important literature is perfected in medical school and residency and is a familiar educational tool for most practicing physicians.

However, the free ACR Journal Advisor™ for radiation oncologists is not a traditional journal club. Each month, 13 ACR Journal Advisor editors, each focused on a disease site or subspecialty, select articles and use their experience to expand and offer guidance on the given topic in a section of the site known as “Editors’ Choice.”

Journal Advisor subscribers receive monthly emails with these Editors’ Choice article selections and commentaries. Karen J. Marcus, MD, chief of radiation oncology at Boston Children’s Hospital and associate professor of radiation oncology at Harvard Medical School, both in Boston, subscribes to see the articles relevant to her practice. “I’m curious about what the editor thinks,” she says. “I don’t always fully agree, but the editors do an excellent job, and it’s obvious they put a lot of time and effort into their interpretations.”

But with the expansive literature, how does a Journal Advisor editor choose an article on which to offer commentary? “It’s an art, not a science,” says Abram Recht, MD, Journal Advisor breast editor and deputy chief of radiation oncology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. “Sometimes I select an article that is influential but wrong or poorly analyzed — those are perhaps more important because I think that people are often reluctant to criticize other authors. Vigorous debate should be encouraged.”

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