Columbia Medical Review Reborn as Online Journal

The latest peer-reviewed journal edited by P&S students is called the Columbia Medical Review, an annual online publication. Here co-Editor-in-Chief Ravi J. Shah’17 explains how the publication differs from those started by students in earlier eras.



Tell us about the publication, Columbia Medical Review.

The Columbia Medical Review is a peer-reviewed academic journal at the intersection of medicine and society. As such, it is a platform for medical professionals to have rigorous and scholarly discussions with others in the community on social issues in health and medicine, including cultural practices, attitudes and behaviors, and health care policies. The Review is a platform to bring together the health care community in the face of increasingly disconnected ideological echo chambers within the community and is situated to guide health care decision-making by allowing newly emerging evidence on the cultural, societal, and ethical contexts of practice to inform future standards of care.

How did you get involved?

I came to P&S with an interest in medical ethics and humanism; however, it was my first year of medical school that showed me the transformative impact of academic scholarship. The desire to marry these together gave birth to the initial workings of the Review. I was lucky to find four like-minded classmates in the Class of 2017 who shared in my vision: Tiffany Sia, Stewart Cao, Ryan England, and Robert Zilinyi, who together formed the first editorial board. As we focused on bringing together key stakeholders in the field, an advisory board comprised of Columbia-affiliated faculty naturally came together.

As we head into the journal’s second year and as the students on the editorial board have transitioned into the clinical year of medical school, I have remained involved as a co-editor-in-chief, while the rest of editorial board has transitioned to students from the Class of 2018.

How is the journal different from the previous journal with the same name?

We are fortunate at P&S to have a history of student-driven academic publications that includes a journal titled P&S Medical Review, founded in 1993, and a journal titled Columbia Medical Review, founded in 2011. Both publications focused on highlighting research done at CUMC, serving as a periodical for those at CUMC about the latest works completed by students and faculty within our community. And though these publications have since become defunct, out of deference to, and really in honor of, the many excellent issues published by our predecessors, we wanted to adopt the name Columbia Medical Review for this journal. The work of these previous P&S students was a rich source of inspiration for us as we saw the contributions that could be made by students to the field of academic scholarship and to the profession of medicine.

The biggest difference, we believe, between the prior publications and ours is a focus on articles pertaining to medical ethics and humanism. The second key difference is the target audience, now the medical community at large. In service of this change is a transition to an online publication format, allowing us to quickly and efficiently reach otherwise disconnected members of the community.

Who authors the articles and how do you solicit articles?

Submissions from all members of the health care community are considered. The majority of our publications are authored by practicing physicians, but we also have received submissions from health policy experts and medical students conducting research.

Articles are solicited through an open call for submissions, and members of the advisory board have been able to spread the word to their colleagues. Also, institutions such as the Arnold P. Gold Foundation have shared information about the Columbia Medical Review.

Tell us about content for the inaugural issue. What stands out, or what is not to be missed?

Our inaugural issue sets the tone for the types of publications we hope to feature moving forward. The articles are on a variety of topics, ranging from the societal and ethical implications of current policies on blood donations from men who have sex with men to psychiatrists’ disclosures of personal psychological struggles to patients. And I would be remiss not to mention the articles on improving interprofessional communication and on managing the triad of chronic pain, mental health, and substance use disorders What all the articles share in common is a scholarly approach to a topic that is otherwise discussed from the perspective of an editorial or expert opinion. Moving forward, we plan to have themed issues, allowing for discussion on ongoing debates within the medical community from multiple perspectives.

What is your vision as Editor-in-Chief?

My vision is multifaceted. First and foremost, it is to develop a platform for the difficult but important conversations on the culture of medical practice. I want to promote critical examination of our values and belief systems for the betterment of our profession and, ultimately, patient care. I also want to help provide a unique opportunity for fellow medical students to get involved in shaping the conversation about the future of our profession.

What are your hopes for the journal after you and students now working on the publication graduate?

The editorial board, comprised of P&S students in their first and second year of medical school, is the workhorse of the Review. Therefore, recruiting incoming first-year students onto the editorial board is an important part of our sustainability. In the midst of the short terms and high turnover rates of students, a key component to the Review’s long-term success will be our collaboration with the Columbia University Libraries Center for Digital Research and Scholarship, which provides invaluable administrative support to sustain our digital tools and publishing platforms for content delivery. Strong support from our advisory board and the University’s administration provides an anchor and source of institutional memory, which is further built through extensive use of technological tools that allows for maintenance of proprietary elements and for workflow optimization.

Read the Columbia Medical Review at