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Visits around the country reveal members’ ingenuity :

January 31, 2018

A few months back, I was in Hawaii, where incredibly beautiful scenery is just about everywhere. I wanted to experience the volcanic mountains, the ecosystems in the valleys and see the ocean — all at once.

The best way to immerse myself in the beauty of Hawaii was the zipline. With only a helmet, rope and pulley separating me from nature, I was able to simultaneously see the big picture along with many hidden places I would not have known about otherwise.

This experience is a great analogy to what I’ve set out to do as your AAP president. The breadth and depth of the Academy’s work is vast. From our extensive policy portfolio to our comprehensive educational offerings and herculean advocacy efforts, we take on the most pressing child health issues of our time.

It’s exciting to describe our “moonshots:” giving all children access to high-quality health care; creating identity-safe, inclusive communities; and eliminating child poverty. Yet the AAP also does important work that doesn’t make the national headlines — or even the headlines of AAP News.

Innovation and best practices in advancing child health start with what each of you do day-to-day with patients and families. And just like in Hawaii, I want to see beyond the broad landscape to the places where great ideas become reality and children and pediatricians experience the benefits. The best way for me to see practice innovation is to be in the offices, exam rooms, hospitals, laboratories and classrooms with my pediatric colleagues who work for children every day.

To that end, I am traveling the country to visit as many pediatricians in their communities as possible. My goal is to meet with primary care pediatricians, specialists, subspecialists and pediatric surgeons in various settings and report back all that is creative and supportive of child health. Whether it’s a new program in a primary care practice or an important approach to a pediatric medical or surgical health diagnosis, my hope is to bring you new ideas in prevention, treatment and financing from other AAP members.

Over the past few months, I've visited with:

  • Michael D. Terranova, M.D., FAAP, and the pediatric community in Buffalo, N.Y., who work with Medicaid managed care to fund behavioral health therapists in their offices;
  • Sogol Pahlavan, M.D., FAAP, and Silen Pahlavan, M.D., FAAP, who came to the United States from Iran in the late 1970s and now feature a state-of-the-art asthma management program as part of their innovative pediatric practice in an underserved neighborhood in Houston; and
  • Pediatricians at the Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown, Pa., who are improving access to and quality of care for families as part of a population health initiative.

I look forward to getting to know more of you and telling your stories. My hope is not only to let our members’ best thinking be shared, tested and improved but also to capture trends and showcase the energy and innovation I witness as I travel throughout the country.

With an evolving political climate and health care system, 2018 no doubt will be a year of continued challenges. Yet, together, we will find common ground, solutions and success.

I salute all of you who are exploring new ways to improve the health and well-being of your patients and confront obstacles that prevent us from providing the best possible pediatric care. And remember, every day in pediatrics is an adventure, because every day we make a difference in the lives of children and families.

Onward and upward!

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