“Your father fell down, and I’m taking him to the hospital,” was the call from my mother last October. Immediately, the multiple health consequences of his fall started to percolate in my mind. The AAP National Conference was coming up in a few days. As president-elect, I did not want to miss our first in-person meeting in three years. But this family health emergency made me question whether I was going to be able to make the trip from Virginia to California. My family was my priority. How to make that choice?
Luckily, my father stabilized, and I was able to travel knowing he was in good hands.
Every day we make choices about our priorities. As I begin my year as president of the AAP, I look forward to working with you on our child health priorities for 2023, including healthy mental and emotional development; COVID recovery and disaster readiness; equity, diversity and inclusion; and the safety and well-being of pediatric professionals. Together, we also will address issues as they manifest throughout the year.
Reframe, reimagine and rejuvenate will be defining concepts during my year:
- Reframing divisiveness into differences of opinion so that we can address the critical needs for all children.
- Reimagining complex systems so that we can support innovation in pediatric payment models and workforce development.
- Rejuvenating ourselves and our profession so that we can reclaim the joy we each deserve.
As pediatricians, we have big hearts, committed to helping the next generation become the healthiest they can possibly be. At the same time, we have loved ones and priorities of our own. We may have elderly parents, young children, teenagers, adult children, significant others, friends, extended family, beloved pets, organizations and activities that require our attention. Keeping everyone’s needs in order and manageable can be a challenge. As the mother of four adolescents/young adults, wife, daughter, sister, private practice CEO and now president of the Academy, I feel this every day.
Sometimes, we call this achieving work-life balance. I prefer the nomenclature “work-life harmony” as outlined in The U.S. Surgeon General’s Framework for Workplace Mental Health & Well-Being (https://bit.ly/3GS72Tv).
For me, work-life harmony is a state of personal peace where I feel satisfied and grateful for my life. I get there by focusing only on what I can control in my day, stretching myself by working to help others at scale and ensuring my family and loved ones are comfortable and safe.
Work-life harmony likely means something different to each of us, and I urge you to take a moment to define that for yourself so you can reclaim your joy.
Reclaiming joy in pediatrics was a theme of the National Conference. I remember meeting a young pediatrician who exemplified this. “I am amazing!” she exclaimed as she jumped up and down with excitement. She pointed to her face, then waved her hand across her torso to indicate that all of her was amazing. Then, she pointed to me and the other pediatricians standing nearby, and said without skipping a beat, “YOU are amazing!”
I imitated her hand movements, pointed to myself and stated, “I am amazing!” She happily nodded her approval. All of pediatricians around us did the same gesture, exclaiming, “I am amazing!”
It was simple statement and a simple movement. But in that moment, the joy we felt increased by several degrees.
Thank you for all that you are doing every day to care for infants, children, adolescents and young adults in your communities. As I happily jump into the role of AAP president knowing that we are doing incredible work every day, I am pointing to you and cheering you on from the bottom of my heart. YOU ARE AMAZING!