US Pharm. 2015;40(6):3.
I spent the last 45 years of my life thinking a lot about what I would write in this month’s column. It became an obsession to help pass the time during my many long, boring, early-morning commutes and late-night treks to and from work on the train or bus or behind the wheel of my car. It consumed many of my working hours as well as my time off. As with many adults in their mid-30s, my thoughts of retirement were simply daydreams, mental exercise that allowed me to stay laser-focused and positive about the concrete tasks at hand. So you would assume that after nearly a half century of pondering what I would say in this column, words would be flowing like a raging river.
I will be retiring at the end of this month, and, surprisingly, I don’t know what to say. Where do I start? Retirement is a time for reflection, so I decided to reminisce about how I felt upon graduation from pharmacy school in 1969 and how the pharmacy profession has been very good to my family and me. I vividly remember I could not have been more excited at having passed my licensing exams and begun working in retail pharmacy. That excitement escalated once I became owner and operator of two retail pharmacies. I highly valued the trust placed in me by my patients—a trust that comes to one for simply being a pharmacist. But that wasn’t enough. I wanted to change the profession on a broader scale. After selling my stores, I sought a place where I could positively influence the profession’s future. I spotted an ad from a formidable pharmacy magazine looking for an assistant pharmacy editor, applied for the position, and was offered the job. This started me on the path to employment at several other well-known pharmacy publications over the following decades. At each publication, I was given the opportunity to express my passion for pharmacy through a weekly or biweekly column. I calculate that in the 35 years I’ve worked in publishing, I have written more than 500 op-ed pieces.
Along the way, I tackled many important critical issues facing the profession as well as some very controversial topics. I chided some pharmacists for being too passive about the profession’s future and praised others for stepping up to the plate. The most interesting thing about contemplating the past is seeing how much it doesn’t change. I was still writing about issues that were being debated 50 years before. Some concerns seem to be timeless: working conditions, provider status for pharmacists, importation of drugs into the United States, medical marijuana, pharmacists’ ethics. And a host of other, seemingly endless challenges have not yet been resolved.
Through the years, I worked with some terrific and talented people who enriched my career in every way. I always received encouragement from upper management that freed me to wage Don Quixote–like campaigns against pharmacy’s foes. No worthy discussion was off-limits, and my personal opinions were evident in every piece. And while I had plenty of supporters, I also endured my share of cynics. I never expected everyone to agree with me, so it was enough that people were at least openly discussing topics that used to be argued behind closed doors.
I’ve saved a special thank-you for my family at U.S. Pharmacist, my surrogate home for the past 10-plus years, and for you, our loyal readers. U.S. Pharmacist is in good hands and will continue to bring you the critical clinical information needed to turn your professional objectives into reality. As for me, in a more limited role, I will continue to help pharmacists achieve greater professional recognition whenever the opportunity presents itself.
The Walt Disney Company trains its employees to never say “Good-bye” when people leave a Disney venue, but instead to say, “See you real soon.” So in the Disney tradition, I say, I’ll see you real soon.
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