Happy birthday to , more or less

This year marks the second anniversary of the birth of Retail Clinician magazine—more or less. That’s right. The magazine shares a birthday with the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the origins of the chain pharmacy business in 1933—more or less.

You see, by the time executives from six drug store chains decided to meet at Manhattan’s Vanderbilt Hotel to find a way to challenge certain anti-chain store measures that had been created by the federal government to help the nation emerge from the deepest depths of The Great Depression, Chain Store AgeDrug Store News’ most venerable, older-sister publication—had already been reporting on the chain pharmacy business for some time. Arnold Friedman and his two partners Godfrey Lebhar and John Stern published the first issue of Chain Store Age in 1925. “It looks as though the National Association of Chain Drug Stores will be needed for a long time,” Lebhar, the first editor of Chain Store Age, the predecessor of Drug Store News, noted at the time.

To honor NACDS’ 75th anniversary, Drug Store News has produced a special limited-edition issue of our NACDS Annual Meeting Daily edition, which celebrates the critical past accomplishments of the organization and also examines the present leadership of NACDS and its vision for the future of community pharmacy.

But back to the story of Retail Clinician: many of you might remember me chasing after you with a stack of our first issue under my arm through the lobby or down “cabana row” at The Breakers, during NACDS Annual Meeting 2006, trying to get a copy into your hands. Some of you thought we were pretty crazy; you had to see the looks on the faces of the senior executives at our parent company Lebhar Friedman, when we told them we wanted to start a magazine targeted at this exciting new sector of health care, which, at the time we pitched the idea in November 2005, consisted of all of about 30 clinics in America—more or less.

They thought we were all—myself, as well as Drug Store News Group publisher John Kenlon and associate publisher Wayne Bennett, included—a bit crazy. “Perhaps the guys at Drug,” as our group is referred to internally, “had gotten their hands on too many ‘free samples.’” (No matter how many times you say it no one ever believes you when you tell them that nothing good like that ever comes in the gift bag!)

Really, how could you blame them; those kinds of numbers weren’t enough to even meet a minimum print-run of 200 copies. But we talked about the projected growth that was expected—as many as 5,000 clinics by 2010; we argued that the clinics represented the best opportunity for Americans to bridge the access/affordability gap that had been confounding the U.S. healthcare system for years; we focused on the promise of retail clinics as a fundamental part of the future of health care and not the present state of health care, which we were sure could become a thing of the past if these clinics could be successful, and we believed we knew a way that we could help be part of the solution.

And in the end, we were all drinking the same Kool Aid: Retail Clinician got the green light, albeit, at first as a special, one-time supplement to the May 1, 2006, issue of Drug Store News, and made its debut at NACDS Annual that year. It also shipped directly to approximately 40 clinics and about 100 nurse practitioners and physicians assistants.

We printed a couple thousand extra copies of that first issue. Then we went back on press and printed a couple thousand more. Today, I would have a better chance finding a copy on e-Bay than I would of finding a copy in our offices—heck, it might even be easier to track down the first issue of Chain Store Age.

Retail Clinician predates the existence of the Convenient Care Association, the professional organization created to represent the nation’s retail-based health clinics, by about six months. CCA first emerged on the scene in October 2006; right around the time Drug Store News published its second issue of Retail Clinician. That issue went out to about 100 clinics. In 2007, Retail Clinician became a quarterly, stand-alone magazine. The winter 2007 edition mailed out to more than 900 clinics.

Indeed, the growth of Retail Clinician directly reflects the growth of the industry it serves, owed largely to a close partnership with CCA. This month The Drug Store News Group/Retail Clinician magazine announced that, in conjunction with CCA, the group would host the first-ever Annual Retail Clinician Congress, a three-day educational event aimed at in-store convenient care healthcare providers practicing in a retail setting.

A key focus of the event, slated for Aug. 11-13, at the Gaylord Palms Resort Hotel & Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., is to deliver live education on topics that are most relevant to the types of patients and the most common conditions that present in a convenient care setting, such as upper respiratory illness, ear infections and more. For more details log onto www.retailclinician.com/RCEdCongress, or email me at reder@lf.com.

In addition, Retail Clinician recently announced the creation of a special board of advisers to assist the magazine’s editors and publishers in the development of future content and features both in print and online, as well as live events and conferences. (For more see page 12.)

So, as the chain pharmacy industry celebrates its 75th anniversary at NACDS Annual Meeting—Drug Store News is proud to celebrate Retail Clinician’s second birthday. As we prepare to ship issue No. 8, volume 3, the number of clinics in America is flirting with the 1,000-mark. It is expected that the convenient care industry will double year over year well into the foreseeable future, and in the words of Godfrey Lebhar, “It looks as though the leadership of CCA will be needed for a long time.”

Now I would never dare compare myself to Godfrey Lebhar, and not just because to do so at the company for which I work borders on blasphemy, but also because I only hope that in my career I can be one-tenth the journalist Godfrey Lebhar was—perhaps even that is a lofty goal—for then I will know I have accomplished something in my lifetime.

Even if that never happens I know that we created Retail Clinician magazine, still the only publication that is dedicated solely to in-store healthcare providers practicing in the convenient care clinic environment, and the headquarters-level executives that are making the strategic decisions for them. And if you’re not talking to them through the pages of Retail Clinician, you’re just not reaching them at all.

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