Until now, when someone asked me about the hardest editorial I've ever had to write, the answer was easy.
It was my first day as editor of Modern Healthcare magazine. I walked into the office that steamy Monday morning in July 1986 and was greeted by Managing Editor Karen Petitte, a friend and former colleague at the Chicago Daily News. Karen and the staff were busy at work on the 10th anniversary issue. Her first words: "Your editorial is due by 3 this afternoon."
I had a dozen years of experience as a reporter and an editor with big-city newspapers, but I had never worked for a magazine or written an editorial. My knowledge of the healthcare business was marginal at best, but somehow I banged out something that passed as an editorial.
In the ensuing 15 years, I've contributed hundreds of commentaries that I hope showed at least a basic understanding of the healthcare system and maybe a little wit or wisdom. Perhaps you even agreed with some of them.
And now I'm finishing my most difficult editorial ever, my last as editor of Modern Healthcare.
I have recently been elevated to publisher of Modern Physician, our sister magazine for physician executives. The new responsibilities will force me to divorce myself from Modern Healthcare. I leave with a heavy heart, but I am proud of the accomplishments during my tenure at the editorial helm.
I was hired to speed Modern Healthcare's evolution from a bimonthly with a features format into a hard-driving business news weekly. Despite a few growing pains, Modern Healthcare has blossomed into a mainstay for those interested in keeping up with events in America's biggest and most important industry. As editor, I considered myself the luckiest man in journalism.
My most important job was recruiting and retaining talented journalists, and I've been fortunate to hire great people. Some have moved on to big jobs with major media outlets such as the Associated Press, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal. Others have turned down attractive opportunities to stay and craft the Modern Healthcare tradition and culture. I salute their contributions and effort.
And thanks to my boss, Publisher Charles S. Lauer, who was always there with a quip, a smile and some constructive advice.
But most of all, I'll miss dealing with the dedicated healthcare executives who read this magazine. Many of you have become trusted friends, advisers and sources. Your dedication to improving patient care and your ability to overcome the myriad challenges facing healthcare have earned my deep respect. Keep up the good work.