Debuting in July 1946, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery quickly established itself as the premier scientific journal for every specialist who employs plastic surgical techniques. Seventy years after publishing its first issue, the journal receives nearly 3,000 submissions each year, has grown to more than 12,000 subscribers around the globe and has an impact factor over 3.0 – and remains the leading global source for peer-reviewed articles in every aspect of the specialty.
Rod Rohrich, MD, Distinguished Teaching Professor and founding chair of the Department of Plastic Surgery at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, became the sixth editor-in-chief of PRS in 2004 (see graphic), taking the reins from Robert Goldwyn, MD, who stewarded the journal for 24 years. As PRS celebrates its 70th anniversary in July, Dr. Rohrich discusses the journal’s rich history and what the future holds for PRS.
PSN: Why was PRS created for the Society?
Dr. Rohrich: If you go back and look at the first issue in 1946, the journal was created to advance the expanding knowledge of plastic surgery as a new specialty in that time period and to provide a vehicle to disseminate information, not only to plastic surgeons but to all specialists in surgery as well. At that time, they talked about wound healing and reconstruction after war injuries because it was post-World War II. Innovation has spawned the entire field of plastic surgery – from how to manage war wounds to tissue expansion, craniofacial surgery and advances in cosmetic surgery. Plastic surgery doesn’t own an organ like the prostate in urology or the brain in neurosurgery. The only thing we own and continue to own today is innovation! The best vehicle to advance the science and innovation and to report it in a fair and balanced manner is via a peer-reviewed journal, which evolved into PRS. The founders of the journal had incredible insight.
PSN: How has the journal remained relevant to its readers 70 years later?
Dr. Rohrich: It still remains the shining light for all of global plastic surgery. Its mission hasn’t changed. It’s still the main vehicle to present scientific, peer-reviewed information and disseminate it to plastic surgeons around the world so they can advance patient care and improve patient outcomes and patient safety. For many decades, it was only available through print, but now the information is available on the PRS journal website and iPad app. The vehicles to distribute information have changed, but the mission of PRS remains the same. I think it’s really the most outstanding vehicle in all of plastic surgery. Everyone knows and respects PRS. That’s what makes us all proud to be a part of it.
PSN: The journal has evolved and grown under your leadership. How has PRS adapted to the digital era?
Dr. Rohrich: We have to keep up with the times, and the times are changing. The one thing in life that is always constant is change. You have to embrace it and not be afraid of it – and PRS does that. We are the leaders in innovation in all of medicine. We are at the forefront, the premier journal of innovation for our publisher, Wolters Kluwer Health; their other journals follow what we do. From the iPad app to procedural videos to podcasts – we’ve had so many firsts. PRS has also gone more global. We started a new journal called PRS Global Open – it’s the first open-access surgery journal in North America. We like to innovate because if you remain stagnant, you lose – and the view from behind is never good!
PSN: How has social media impacted PRS?
Dr. Rohrich: It’s one thing to be known in the plastic surgery world, but it is far more important to be known as the ultimate source of truth in plastic surgery by the public. After all, we serve the public – the public is our patients, and we need them to have great patient safety outcomes. The most powerful tool a consumer can have is information, and the best scientific information in plastic surgery by far is from the journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. ASPS President David Song, MD, recently formed an ASPS Social Media Task Force to help us ramp up our social media efforts and promote patient safety and news in plastic surgery. PRS has been a major part of that initiative, which is great.
PSN: What is your vision for the future of PRS?
Dr. Rohrich: To grow stronger, grow bigger and to be better. That’s our mission every day. We want to be a better vehicle to provide the best information to help plastic surgeons become smarter so they can deliver better care and outcomes to their patients. The journal and scientific publishing is going to continue to evolve. PRS Global Open is a free journal, which allows anyone in the world to access the information in that journal.
PSN: What are some of the journal’s greatest accomplishments over the past 10 years?
Dr. Rohrich: Our greatest accomplishment is nurturing, growing and taking PRS to the next level of excellence. I’m proud to have played a small part of that with my great PRS team, my great editorial board, my great managing committee and of course, the great support of ASPS and our long-standing publisher – Wolters-Kluwer. None of this would have been possible without them. There is no “I” in team. It’s really been a true team approach.
PSN: What do you enjoy most as the editor-in-chief?
Dr. Rohrich: Interacting and learning from the incredible innovators in plastic surgery from all over the world as they advance patient safety and improve outcomes in and beyond plastic surgery. I think that’s been the most exciting aspect – to be the editor of a journal that gets the best articles, the best data and the best authors. It’s a true honor to do that every day.
PSN: How has the readership changed over the years?
Dr. Rohrich: They’re younger, brighter and smarter. They are more, and rightfully so, demanding of better articles, peer review and science. All that results in better articles.
PSN: Do you have any favorite issues?
Dr. Rohrich: Every issue, every month is the rebirth of a baby. It’s incredible. We all look forward to seeing the next new issue. I have a new favorite every month – that’s the excitement of the journal. Every day is a new day. It’s never boring. We are always doing new and exciting things.
PSN: What can members/readers look forward to in the future?
Dr. Rohrich: Constant change, constant innovation and constant improvements while we remain ahead of the curve in plastic surgery. Stay tuned and hang on. The ride will be great but we can always guarantee you that we will give you the best, the brightest and the most informative peer review journal in plastic surgery– and in all of surgery, by far!