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Norman Levine, M.D., is a private practitioner in Tucson, Ariz. He also is a member of the Dermatology Times Editorial Advisory board and a co-medical editor.
As Dermatology Times celebrates 40 years of continuous publication, we asked Dr. Levine to share his thoughts on his years of contribution to the publication.
As Dermatology Times (DT) celebrates 40 years of continuous publication, it gives those of us who have been expressing our uncensored opinion an opportunity to thank this important magazine for allowing us to say things in public that almost no other similar vehicle would consider.
Very seldom has the managing editor or other staff even suggested that I tone down my sometimes annoying tone, or that I consider avoiding criticism of one or more of their advertisers. I am certain that there was cringing on occasion when my editorial copy was presented to them, but if
that was the case, they did not communicate their discomfort to me.
As an example, in 2008 I criticized DT and others for reporting on cosmeceutical agents with scant data to support their claims.1 They chose not to follow my entreaty to refrain from publicizing so-called therapeutic advances. In retrospect, the marketplace became the final arbiter as new “advances” came and went dependent on the experiences of the consumers of such products.
In an editorial published in celebration of 30 years of DT publication, I marveled at the advances in computer technologies that had made
our professional lives more productive.2 Discussing advances in computers now seems rather quaint 10 years later. Now DT reports on far more advanced technologies such as new and better laser systems, practice management software and the social media explosion, where computers are
merely a means to the end of better information collection and transfer.
For those of us who are technologically challenged, DT reporters have explained these new advances in language that we can all understand.
Who would have predicted 10 years ago that we would become almost indentured servants to some of these emerging technologies? The era of
the electronic medical record (EMR) has arrived, and most of us have at least, grudgingly, accepted this as a fact of life.
Early on, DT ran a series of articles describing the various options that were available to dermatologists. I am certain that many practitioners based their decisions on which system to incorporate into their practices - at least, in part, on the clear analysis presented in the pages of DT.
In spite of many pitfalls and hassles associated with the implementation of the electronic medical record, there is little doubt that this technology has improved medical care. If only before the 50 year anniversary of DT, the various EMR’s will be able to share data to make medical records truly portable.
Over the past decade, I have written several articles imploring our specialty to remain mainly a medical one. The opposite has happened in dermatology, as aesthetic procedural dermatology has become a major component of the services that we deliver. As dermatology’s scope of practice has evolved, DT has expanded its capacity to reflect these changes. DT has become a major source for the reporting of new ideas, techniques and products in these areas. It is now clear that this part of dermatology will be a major part of the future of the specialty, and I am pleased that a responsible and even-handed publication such as DT will continue to inform its readers about these matters.
One of the real pleasures of writing editorials for DT has been the feedback that readers have provided about what they like about our opinions and what, in their view, is totally misguided blather. For example, I have been accused of being “cannibalistic” for daring to criticize other dermatologists for practices that seemed marginal to me. A few years ago, I wrote a piece entitled, “If I ruled the (dermatology) world”. In this article, I free-associated about changes in our specialty that I would institute if I had the power to do so.3 Of all the responses from readers about this and other editorials, my favorite remains a comment made by a physician reacting to that article.
His straightforward response went something like this, “Thank God you don’t rule the dermatology world”. Amen, brother.
1. Levine N. Cutting to the chase: Cosmeceutical hype does not benefit our patients. Dermatology Times. 2008;29(1):4-5.
2. Levine N. ‘Big tent’ approach to dermatology. Dermatology Times. 2009;30(5):4,8.
3. Levine N. If I ruled the (dermatology) world. Dermatology Times. 2017;38(1):8.