Sandra G Hassink, MD, FAAP
I believe the highest priority for the AAP is to energize our profession and engage the public and our partners in creating a National Agenda for Children. When I attended my first AAP chapter meeting as a young physician just out of residency I came home feeling energized by the pediatricians I met and excited about what we could do for kids, I have felt that way at every AAP meeting ever since. What was it that made me come back time after time to engage with my fellow members? What is it that makes our members so special? I have come to realize that on a daily basis pediatricians are translating experiences with patients and families directly into advocacy and action. We are using our experience and expertise to inform clinical care, policy, education and advocacy in our practices, communities, at the state and federal level to advance pediatrics and benefit children. This is our greatest treasure and because of this the AAP must focus on supporting the practice of pediatrics, encouraging professional development and increasing the engagement of the nation’s pediatricians in advocacy. To support practice, the AAP must understand and influence the evolving models of health care and support the roles of primary care and employed pediatricians, pediatric medical and surgical subspecialists, and make sure that pediatrics remains a coveted and viable career choice for medical students and residents. The AAP must work to increase connections between pediatricians in practice to public health, research and administration, increasing our ability to work along the entire continuum of pediatrics. We must encourage professional development by promoting leadership training, quality improvement, use of EMR and electronic communications and fostering the skills our members need to facilitate intraprofessional teams and community collaborations. We must help pediatricians engage parents in ways that inform practice and enhance communication. We must educate and mentor members in advocacy as never before. We must do this because now is the time to take our Agenda for Children— our vision for children— and turn it outward to take the lead in creating a National Agenda for Children.