January 29, 2012

The Founding of the Internet Medical Journal in 1993

“Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.” Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

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The Internet Medical Journal was founded in 1993, when Thomas F. Heston, MD was a medical resident at Oregon Health Sciences University. His residency director at the time, Dr. Jerry Glowniak, was a true Internet geek (one of the very first), and visionary in many respects. Domain registration at the time was free through ICNIC.

Dr. Heston designed the first website for the Division of Nuclear Medicine at Oregon Health Sciences University, and started publishing online Tom’s Guide to Good Livin’ in 1993, which eventually became The Internet Medical Journal in 1995.

The first true, 100% online medical journal in the world was created in Great Britain by Dr. Ben Green (Priory Lodge Education Ltd.). This site is a collection of online journals, and Dr. Heston was the first editor of their publication Family Medicine On-Line. Then in 1995, the Internet Medical Journal became the first 100% online medical journal based out of the United States. Heston subsequently founded the Internet Medical Association in 1996.

Heston also was an online instructor for the University of Health Sciences Antigua, which was the first medical school in the world to formally incorporate Internet education into their curriculum. He gave the commencement address to the first graduating class utilizing the innovative online curriculum in Antigua, 2001. It was a windy, blustery, memorable day.

Heston graduated with a distinction in research from the St. Louis University School of Medicine (St. Louis, USA). He did his internship at Duke University, nuclear medicine residency at Oregon Health Sciences University, and family medicine residency at the University of Washington. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians and a Fellow of the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology.

In 1997, he began a private practice in the rural town of Kellogg, Idaho. He practiced the full range of family medicine, including obstetrics and emergency medicine. There was a need in the community for nuclear medicine, and by 2000 Heston had started the first nuclear medicine clinic in Kellogg (in conjunction with Inland Cardiology Associates of Spokane, Washington). This nuclear medicine clinic grew to the point that by 2002, his medical practice was devoted exclusively to nuclear medicine.

Heston is committed to providing healthcare to the under-served, and helped start the first nuclear medicine clinic in Kellogg, Idaho in 2000; the first nuclear medicine clinic in Sandpoint, Idaho (2003); the first nuclear medicine clinic in Post Falls, Idaho (2005); and the first nuclear medicine clinic in St. Maries, Idaho (2006). In addition, he performed the first PET scan in Idaho north of Boise (2003); the first PET/CT fused imaging in north Idaho (2003); the first Fluoride-18 PET bone scan in the the Inland Empire (including Spokane, the Tri-Cities, north Idaho and Montana; 2003); the first PET brain scan in north Idaho (2003); and the first PET heart scan in north Idaho (2003).

Heston was the first physician residency trained in nuclear medicine to practice full-time in north Idaho, and as of early 2006, still the only physician physician board certified in nuclear medicine to have an active medical practice in north Idaho. In late 2006, his medical practice was joined by Dan Sigg, MD, PhD and Mark Wittry, MD, FACC.

He was the first physician in Idaho to become Board Certified in Nuclear Cardiology (1996). In 2006, when the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology began awarding the Fellowship designation, he was in the first group of physicians worldwide to be so recognized.

From the earliest days of the Internet Medical Journal, it was clear that the Internet was a valuable tool to provide online medical news and education to the under-served, especially those communities and those physicians practicing in the poorest, third world countries. Emails have been received from all over the world, thanking Heston for the Internet Medical Journal.

With his unique background in both primary care medicine and also advanced medical and online technology, Heston continues to stay true to his calling of helping the under-served by providing medical news and education over the Internet.

Last updated: 2006