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Follow the leader

Rob Eder

Lately, I’ve been giving a lot of thought as to what constitutes a good leader.

In the wake of NACDS Marketplace, I happened upon a column from another industry watcher who seemed to have a different experience than I had at this year’s show. Certainly, everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. But, there was one criticism I found way off base. If you couldn’t find Jim Whitman, Larry Lotridge or Terry Arth, you probably went to the wrong convention center. As for Roy McGrath, as usual he was anchored, as if by a virtual ball and chain, to the registration desk. I think they let him sleep in a bed at night, but I have never been entirely sure of this.

To criticize this group for not being visible at Marketplace is unfair. To drag Steve Anderson into the middle of all of this seems somewhat irresponsible. Although Anderson always has done a good job of making himself accessible to retailers and vendors alike—and 2010 Marketplace was no exception—I don’t believe that’s the primary role of the president and CEO of NACDS. Anderson’s role is to make sure the men and women who write our laws and shape public policy in this country fully appreciate the value of retail pharmacy.

By that measure, Anderson does his job quite well. But my opinion is less important than the opinion of the editors and publishers of CEO Update. Drug Store News covers the retail pharmacy business; CEO Update covers the association management business. According to CEO Update’s scorecard, Anderson is a perennial all-star.

“It’s no accident that Anderson was named one of the most effective association leaders by the publication CEO Update in its latest issue—or that he consistently ranks high among his peers,” noted the Aug. 2 edition of The Drug Store News Group’s Drug Fix, a weekly e-newsletter analyzing the top stories of the week in retail pharmacy. “In hindsight, it’s clear that the NACDS board of directors made a brilliant choice when…it managed to pry [Anderson] away from the restaurant industry. The result has been a succession of political victories; a much sharper awareness of community pharmacy’s value to the healthcare system among policy-makers, benefits administrators and other health providers; and a more effective working relationship between retailers and suppliers…The restaurant industry’s loss is chain pharmacy’s gain.”

On the subject of leadership, Drug Store News would be completely remiss if it didn’t also acknowledge the leadership of the Convenient Care Association—which represents the nation’s growing cadre of retail-based health clinics—in particular, CCA executive director Tine Hansen-Turton. On July 26, Sens. Dan Inouye, D-Hawaii, and Thad Cochran, D-Miss., introduced a Senate resolution declaring the week of Aug. 2 to 8 as National Convenient Care Clinic Week, in line with the third annual Retail Clinician Education Congress in Orlando, Fla. It’s an important tribute to the work of Tine and her team.

It is important to note that this recognition comes at a time when the heavy lifting of health reform begins in earnest (i.e., the implementation phase), and the country begins to wrestle with the very real issue of how to extend health benefits to 30 million more Americans amid an ongoing shortage of primary care providers. Congress is learning about convenient care just in time for retail clinics to play a larger role in the healthcare system of tomorrow. For my money, that’s leadership.

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