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Pediatrician turned congresswoman fighting for health care, gun safety, protection for immigrants :

October 27, 2019

Editor's note:The 2019AAP National Conference & Exhibition  will take place from Oct. 25-29 in New Orleans.

Kim Schrier, M.D., FAAP, used to think of politics as a spectator sport. But after the 2016 election, she found herself speaking out more and joining rallies to champion the causes she cared about.

Still, when a friend sent her a text message suggesting she run for Congress, she brushed it off and returned to seeing patients in her Washington state practice. But then the friend texted again, saying “If not you, who? And if not now, when?”

“I knew nothing about the life of a member of Congress or what a campaign would entail, but I knew that if I didn’t step up … I would never forgive myself for not at least trying,” Dr. Schrier said. “And I wanted to be a role model for (my son) Sam, that when something is wrong in this world, you stand up and do something about it.”

In November 2018, Dr. Schrier became the first pediatrician ever elected to Congress and now represents Washington state’s 8th District. She recounted her journey during a plenary talk Sunday and told the crowd that being a member of Congress is like being back in pediatric residency.

“We typically have three meetings scheduled all at the same time in different buildings, and it’s a little bit insane,” she said. “And then at night I go home and study pretty much until I fall asleep.”

After being sworn in this past winter, Dr. Schrier’s first meeting was with AAP leaders. She called it “hands down my favorite meeting ever” because she shares so many of the AAP’s goals.

“Kids don’t get to vote but they are subject to every decision we make, and I’m so honored to go to bat for them every day,” she said.

Among her top issues is access to health care, one that is especially personal as someone with type 1 diabetes.

“I also get to play a really important role and have a seat at the table as we work toward universal, affordable health care and we take on the cost of prescription drugs,” she said. “Our patients should not have to drive to Canada for EpiPens and insulin.”

Earlier this year during the measles outbreaks, she introduced the Vaccine Awareness Campaign to Champion Immunization Nationally and Enhance Safety (VACCINES) Act to combat misinformation and raise vaccination rates.

“Our message has to be as compelling as the scare tactics that the anti-vaxxers use,” she said. “It is time for us to take back that narrative.”

As the only female physician in Congress, she also is championing women’s rights to make their own health care decisions, saying “politicians have no place between doctors and patients.”

Protecting immigrant children, promoting gun safety, reducing child hunger and strengthening education also top her priority list.

“You never really know how the decisions you make might change another person’s life or a child’s life or a country’s future or our planet’s health,” she said. “And it turns out that this country really does need a pediatrician in Congress, at least one.”

For more coverage of the 2019 AAP National Conference & Exhibition, visit

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