Pediatrician Inspiration and Advocacy

Last month I had the privilege of attending the AAP’s National Conference and Exhibition in San Francisco. While the whirlwind of meetings, seminars, and presentations left me exhausted, the experience was invigorating and reminded me how incredible it is to be a pediatrician. Being surrounded by passionate people all dedicated to caring and advocating for children is inspiring. What was special about this year’s event?

There were lots of presentations and conversations about the future of pediatric practice. Population health, telehealth, team-based care, integration of mental health within the medical home, and alternate payment models dominated discussions about the changing face of how we will deliver care differently in the years ahead. All of this will require data, information exchange and collaboration. Those of us who have embraced the “information = power mantra” feel well poised to succeed in the changing environment.

Evidence-based and evidence-informed guidelines are changing the way we practice pediatrics. Data analysis isn’t just for the geeks anymore. Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD, MPH, FAAP had a feeling that she was seeing elevated lead levels in her patients in Flint, MI. Looking at data collected in her EHR and analyzing zip codes gave her team the information needed to advocate for change. She shared her experience with attendees. New/updated policy statements on safe sleep, media use among young children, and other practice guidelines were released. Planning is well underway to create a national registry for infants affected by Zika which will be used to inform care. It’s no longer taking more than 10 years to translate science to the exam room.

The most exciting part of the conference for me was the opportunity to connect with young pediatric leaders. I am sure at the earliest stages of my career, I was just worried about getting through the day without giving incorrect advice to a parent. I was blown away by the pediatric trainees and early career physicians who had great ideas about how to make the future better for the children they serve. Innovation, advocacy and partnerships are core to their vision of practicing pediatrics. I encourage each of you to become a mentor for young pediatricians. I guarantee you will gain as much from the experience as you will contribute.

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