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After 24-year absence, AAP National Conference ‘doesn’t disappoint’ :

November 30, 2016


Dr. SternDr. SternIt's been a lifetime since I attended an AAP national meeting. Twenty-four years ago, I had the not-so-brilliant idea to bring my 3-week-old daughter to the national meeting in San Francisco. I imagined that my second child, like my first, would sleep through the lectures. Wrong.

That weekend was the beginning of what would be five months of colic. Needless to say, I remember nothing of those lectures except dark rooms and feeling distraught, helpless and unable to calm my crying baby.

This year, with daughters launched and an empty nest, I decided to return to the scene of the crime. So with a 20-year banner affixed to my name badge, I surprised myself with the gusto and enthusiasm that I felt as I approached the conference. I am thrilled to say that the conference didn't disappoint.

My AAP experience was a very personal one. I had little interest in UTIs or OM, although I'm sure the discussions in those interactive sessions would have been informative. Instead, I gravitated to the new and edgy topics. With recreational marijuana on the California ballot two weeks after the conference and still undecided about where I stood, I appreciated learning about the AAP position. Discussing the issues with pediatricians from states where marijuana already is legal like Colorado and Oregon was, in itself, worth my trip to the convention.

The feeling of kinship sitting around a table with my peers has energized me to get involved in local and national issues that affect children. I also will step up my involvement at Santa Monica-UCLA hospital, which is my neighborhood training program, and help nurture the next generation of residents, some of whom may follow in my footsteps and enter primary care. I’ve realized that my voice is important.

I applaud the AAP for tapping such impressive, charismatic speakers to educate us. After hearing Gail Dines talk powerfully about the effect of media images on our youth, I watched her TEDx talk and posted it to my Facebook page. Armed with information from the marketing session, I returned to Los Angeles with plans to revamp my practice's website. The physician who ran the meeting literally showed us step-by-step how she updates her website. When I told her how impressed I was with her site, she generously said, “Just copy it.” And I will.

It feels amazing to be inspired and invigorated, to grow and evolve at different stages in our work lives. I realized that it is difficult to instigate change when you're in a vacuum. Take home message: Put yourself out there.

I could go on and on about the speakers who impressed me with their knowledge and passion, but ultimately what I want to say is “Anyone who hasn't attended a national AAP meeting, put it on your bucket list!” I have not felt so proud about my chosen career path in a very long time. I hope to see you next year in Chicago!

Lisa Stern, M.D., FAAP

Tenth Street Pediatrics Medical Group

Santa Monica, Calif.

Letters to the Editor may be sent to Anne Hegland, editor in chief, at

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