Dean Celia reflects on 40th anniversary of Dermatology Times

September 18, 2019

Dean Celia, our original managing editor, reflects the beginning of Dermatology Times and the medical editors, Dr. Ronald Wheeland and Dr. Norman Levine,  who ensured the publication focused on the key industry developments that mattered most to practicing dermatologists.

A couple of months ago, I came across Ronald Wheeland’s commentary in Dermatology Times (DT) and saw that I was mentioned. Reflecting back as DT celebrates its 40th anniversary, Dr. Wheeland spoke of my annual visits to Arizona - in my capacity as managing editor and later editor-in-chief - to meet with his colleague and fellow medical editor Norman Levine.

“Dean was an avid fan of the Cleveland Indians and would occasionally fly to their spring training in Tucson Arizona, meeting Norm Levine for a game or two and dinner,” Dr. Wheeland wrote.

RELATED: Read Dr. Wheeland's article here and Dr. Levine's here.

Uh-oh, I’ve been found out, I thought. It took nearly 40 years, but they finally figured out that I just happened to schedule my visits to coincide with baseball’s attempt to wake us from our winter slumber.

Kidding aside, I think they knew then what I was up to. And truth be told, these visits proved to be invaluable in setting the tone for meaningful collaboration. In his commentary, Dr. Wheeland added: “It is that kind of relationship the physician editors have always had with the DT staff.” It warmed my heart to read those words, and to think that the tone we set many years ago carries on today.

When you think about it, so much has changed in the field of dermatology over the past 40 years, yet the one constant over time is the need for clinicians to keep up with the latest developments and understand how those developments impact their practice. When I became involved with DT, I understood the goal was to provide practical, actionable information. But I was a little worried about delivering on that goal - until I met and started working with Drs. Wheeland and Levine, along with Dr. Lawrence Schachner, who were DT’s first medical editors. Their firm grasp of the specialty, as well as their willingness to explore and communicate how key developments impacted the typical office-based dermatologist, formed the basis of how we developed content. They were leaders in the field, but they were also busy practitioners who understood what readers needed.

What’s more, I always felt I could ask them the so-called dumb questions, which they patiently answered. I use this approach in my medical writing to this day. I imagine a young, inquisitive clinician having a hallway conversation with an expert. What questions would she have? How could she come away from the discussion with something she could put to work right away in practice to improve patient care? It forms the foundation for education that not only informs, but is actionable and meaningful.

As I reflect on my time with DT back in the 1980s, so much of the day-to-day is fuzzy to me, a natural occurrence as time marches on. But one thing remains crystal clear: my interactions with the medical editors. I remember the dinners where we planned strategy. I remember attending meetings with them, such as the AAD annual session. So much happens at those meetings, you hardly know where to focus. The medical editors helped me do that. I remember conducting Q&A sessions during these meetings. We’d bring dermatology’s key thought leaders to a hotel suite and our medical editors would ask great questions, elicit meaningful responses, and always convey that important “tell me what it means to my practice” advice.

In a way, DT was ahead of the times. Just the other day I was asked by a client, a medical publisher, to complete a required planning document for a medical education activity. I needed to identify knowledge, competence, and performance gaps, and explain how the activity would impact practice. I like to think that, back in the day, we at DT did these things without a second thought - without having to fill out a form to make sure we were on target. We just did it.

And every now and then we’d also take in a ballgame. ƒ

READ MORE: Celebrating our 40th anniversary