Medical Field Journals

If you're working in a health care career, you're probably familiar with some of the more prestigious medical journals out there—the New England Journal of Medicine, Nursing, the Lancet, the American Journal of Contact Dermatitis. What? Never heard of that last one? If you have, consider yourself one of the medical erudite; actually, you're most likely a dermatologist because they may be the only ones who have ever heard of the American Journal of Contact Dermatitis. It's a specialized publication, one geared toward a small sector of the physician population. The National Library of Medicine—the world's largest medical database—houses thousands of medical journals, most of which are small publications with small readerships. Sure, the New England Journal of Medicine may grace coffee tables in a majority of physicians' offices, but not everyone needs to read about infrared radiation and its potential antidepressant effect on lab rats in Brain Stimulation, a magazine published quarterly here in the United States. Many of these titles could cause a person's head to thump on the table from boredom, but not the specific population for whom they are written. Imagine being excited upon finding the latest edition of Digestive Endoscopy tucked in your mailbox. These esoteric journals serve an important purpose as they directly address the health care professionals who are doing great work in these little known (to the lay person, anyway) medical fields. They help keep doctors and nurses and researchers abreast of what's happening in their specific fields. Reading field-specific journals helps the health care professional focus his or her precious "free time" on articles and information most pertinent to him or her; in other words, these journals weed out any irrelevant material. One collegiate study found "the majority of important articles for each discipline were sequestered in a small subset of journals" (McKibbon, et. al., 2004), meaning much of the significant information supplied to medical professionals came from several specific journals, some of which included Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, the Lancet, and the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

Journals bridge distances and help inform and educate health care professionals throughout the world. Doctors in Dallas might be interested to learn what

Malaysian research has uncovered and how it might benefit their patients. Articles may also spark conversation or debate among health care workers, which could lead to improvement in provision of care. Learning about the successes doctors and nurses have in other parts of the world would definitely help patients in other countries.

Medical Field Journals

These medical publications aren't only for the professionals. People who don't necessarily work in medicine but are interested in the field or have specific questions about certain diseases and/or illnesses can pick up these journals and learn interesting facts for themselves. In his article "Juicy Journals" (1998), author Atul Gawande likens these periodicals to "gossip rags for the science niches," saying they help "keep tabs on what everyone is up to" and provide interesting reading material for even the most medically unaware.

Be prepared to spend some money if you choose to subscribe to any of these journals. Many are fairly expensive, especially for practitioners just starting out. An individual subscription to Obstetrics and Gynecology, for example, will run you $397 for one year. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and the New England Journal of Medicine are slightly more affordable at $165 a year each and are discounted if you're a member of the American Medical Association (AMA).

Whatever your interest level, medical journals play an important role in educating both health care provider and patient. Thankfully, there seems to be a journal for every possible medical discipline and physiologic system in the human body. This means specific, pertinent information for a group of individuals who can translate this knowledge into improved care for the health care consumer. So the next time you find yourself sitting in a doctor's waiting room and you glance over and see a copy of Calcified Tissue International, pick it up and flip through its pages. Who knows what you might learn?

Last Updated: 05/21/2014

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