An article led by Ronald M. Epstein, M.D., and published in 2002 is among the top-five most widely cited medical education articles in the last century. Three other manuscripts either authored or co-authored by Epstein are ranked in the top 50.
In the scientific community, the number of citations for written work is a barometer of impact, influence and research productivity. It reflects the stature of the authors and the university at which they work. The Association of American Medical Colleges and its journal, Academic Medicine, recently published the rankings online with the methodology and an analysis of the topics and types of journals that fared best, between 1900 and 2014.
Epstein’s most-cited review article expressed the need to revamp the definition of “professional competence” for physicians, by expanding it beyond core knowledge of medicine and basic skills to include reasoning, judgment, management of ambiguity, professionalism, time-management and communication skills, and teamwork, for example.
Titled “Defining and Assessing Professional Competence,” it ranks fourth in the top 50 cited manuscripts about medical education across all scientific journals, with 677 citations. It was originally published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and was the guidepost for development of the comprehensive assessment program at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.
As a professor of Family Medicine, Psychiatry and Oncology at UR, Epstein also has written extensively about physician burnout, resilience, the value of mindfulness, and patient-physician communication. His three other highly cited articles are: a 1999 JAMA manuscript on the mindful practice of medicine (ranked 17th), a 2007 New England Journal of Medicine article on assessments in medical education (ranked 35th), and a 1997 co-authored study on personal awareness and effective patient care (ranked 37th).
“Understanding what really makes a good doctor should be a beacon for those involved in teaching and training the next generation of physicians,” Epstein said. “Those qualities extend beyond mere knowledge and technique to include self-awareness, self-monitoring, self-regulation and self-care.”
Added Mark B. Taubman, M.D., chief executive officer of the University of Rochester Medical Center and UR Medicine and dean of the Medical School: “We are fortunate to have someone of Ron Epstein’s caliber on our faculty to develop future physicians and serve as a national leader in this field. As this ranking proves, his influence reaches far beyond Rochester and will undoubtedly continue to have an impact in the years to come.”
Currently, Epstein is funded by three National Institutes of Health grants to study how to improve communication with patients who have advanced cancer by enhancing physicians’ and patients’ communication skills and self-awareness, and Arnold P. Gold Foundation grants to promote mindfulness and compassion in health care. He also directs the Deans Teaching Fellowship, a two-year endowed program to develop leaders in medical education.