Q&A with 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Lewis A. Miller, MS CCHP

Lewis A. Miller is the founder and a principal of WentzMiller Global Services, a consulting company to medical education companies, medical societies and the pharma industry — and, in China, a division of the health ministry. He is also one of two winners of the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award. The other award went to Lewis’ colleague Dennis K. Wentz, MD, CHCP.

What is your background?

I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, with a lawyer father, a very religious mother and twin brother. He and I were the first to go to college. (My mother was forced to quit high school at 16 to go to work. My father was admitted to the bar after clerking in a law office but without any higher education.) I went to Princeton; my twin went to Yale (and then Yale Law School). At Princeton, I majored in public and international affairs, was managing editor of the Daily Princetonian, vice president of the International Relations Club, got a grant to research my thesis in Mexico and graduated in 1949 cum laude.

What did you originally want to do for a living?

I had planned to join the U.S. Foreign Service but enjoyed my newspaper activities so much I switched to journalism. I found a job as a reporter at the Schenectady Union-Star, got married, and with my new bride, decided to start a weekly newspaper in Glastonbury, Connecticut. We built it up over a couple of years, had our first child, but money ran out, so I sold the Glastonbury Citizen and moved back to Brooklyn. I soon got a job at the Newark Star-Ledger as a reporter — later a copy editor — though the commute from Brooklyn was arduous. I moonlighted at several New York papers, working 15-16 hours a day, and eventually landed my dream job as a copy editor on the New York World-Telegram & Sun. I stayed there six years and rose to assistant managing editor, but I had another idea to launch a newspaper venture, a franchised string of suburban dailies called Today Newspapers. Money was the sticking point. My partner and I couldn’t raise what we needed, so in 1960 I gave up and started job hunting again.

How did you get started in the CME field?

The first step was to shift from newspapers to medical journalism. I answered an ad in the New York Times that led me to a job as executive editor of Medical Economics magazine. During my six years there, I learned how to edit a magazine and how to understand a new group of readers: doctors. The entrepreneurial urge struck again, but I learned a lesson: Raise the money for a new idea before you quit your job. That worked. With venture capital in hand, my co-worker and I launched Patient Care, a new form of medical journal for primary care physicians. We didn’t solicit or accept articles from doctors. Instead, we surveyed FPs and internists to identify their perceived needs, and with staff writers created articles targeted to those needs — pre-tested before publication and with readership studies to determine whether we hit the mark. In other words, a format for successful CME. Patient Care was a major success; we were in the black in the ninth month of publication and were approached by some of our advertisers in 1968 to create CME programs for them (long before accredited providers came on the scene). Our company expanded around the world with offices in Latin America, Europe and Australia, mostly publishing editions of Patient Care but slowly dabbling in CME. Here in the U.S. I became involved with a small informal group of med school CME deans and became intrigued with the fact that people in the field didn’t know each other. That led to my setting up, in December 1975, an invitational meeting for 45 people from med schools, med societies, hospitals, U.S. Department of Health and more to discuss “Whither CME?” Its purpose was to get all these folks talking to one another, so it was a no-speeches meeting. That was the origin of the Alliance.

To what do you attribute your success in this profession?

Innovative thinking about the healthcare field and its providers; good networking skills, and a happy lifestyle.

Is there any advice/wisdom you can share with others?

Sure, but it would take another page or so. Basically, if you have a good idea, find a way to put it to work!

What topic are you most passionate about within the field?

Linking CME to improvement in patient care outcomes and in managing the delivery of care efficiently and effectively

What does receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award mean to you?

I’ve had many such awards in CME, medical publishing, moderate cost housing for the elderly, employment and training of economically disadvantaged people, etc. This is special because my name is attached and perhaps will be recognized for years to come.

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