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Candidates share ideas for engaging with trainees, early career physicians, medical subspecialists and surgical specialists :

June 7, 2019

The AAP National Nominating Committee has named Pamela K. Shaw, M.D., FAAP, and Lee Savio Beers, M.D., FAAP, as candidates for AAP president-elect. The winner will serve as the 2021 president. The election will be held from Sept. 7-21. The candidates responded to the following question:

What can the AAP do to promote membership and enhance engagement with trainees, early career physicians, medical subspecialists and surgical specialists?

Pamela K. Shaw, M.D., FAAP

Kansas City, Kan.

The AAP is made up of diverse groups that reflect the richness of our membership. The engagement of all groups should be enhanced by the issues that bring us together. Being proactive in reaching out to trainees, early career pediatricians and subspecialists with open communication and opportunities to lead within the AAP can help them find value in their membership. We must aim to enhance their long-term engagement and widen our base of advocates while ensuring that we have an open pipeline for current and upcoming AAP leaders.

The AAP has used the Pediatrician Life and Career Experience Study data to enhance the membership value for trainees and early career physicians. We are listening to their needs and want to meet them! I support continuing to provide the Pediatrics Review and Education Program for subspecialty fellows and will look for other opportunities in other fellowships. We have been successful in increasing membership to 56% of eligible trainees as they transition out of residency. I plan to increase outreach to program directors and chairs to provide information about the value of AAP educational, leadership and advocacy opportunities.

For early career physicians, financial and business literacy education is a critical need we must fill. Mentoring and leadership opportunities during this crucial time can not only better retain early career members, but help them feel invested. Personal outreach can help connect and cement the relationships with these members. We know that trainees and early career physicians value our advocacy efforts for children and families. Enhancing opportunities for these young pediatricians to engage in advocacy will be key to their continued involvement.

For specialists, the AAP provides scholarship opportunities and leadership within their specialty and nationally. The inclusion of specific seats for subspecialists on the Board of Directors will help to provide a stronger voice for specialists and their unique needs in AAP leadership. Institutional memberships for academic centers are also an opportunity for medical and surgical specialists to streamline their membership and involvement in the AAP.

Connecting medical and surgical specialists with chapter leaders in an intentional way is a great way to increase bidirectional communication. As an example, the leaders in sections, committees and councils should be connected with their chapter leaders by the AAP leaders intentionally. When the chapter leadership is aware of the subspecialty leaders, they can invite them to give continuing medical education or provide their expertise in the priority areas for the chapters. In return, the chapters can provide the local advocacy that can benefit subspecialists as well as generalists with local payers or state governments. The generalists and the subspecialists speaking with one voice about these issues are more powerful, as all pediatric physicians are affected by payment issues and regulations and laws in their states.

Diverse groups may not always agree on all issues. However, different perspectives united by a common goal are a strength. What unites pediatricians is promoting and protecting the health and welfare of children. We can all agree and work toward our shared AAP goal to put kids first.

Lee Savio Beers, M.D., FAAP

Washington, D.C.

Trainees and early career physicians are valued and effective members of the AAP, helping to advance key priorities such as advocacy and the promotion of diversity and inclusion (among many others). My own journey as a leader in the AAP began as a resident and has been characterized by several common themes which now influence my approach to increasing membership and engagement — opportunity, mentorship and voice.     

Opportunity  We can increase engagement of this important group by expanding available leadership opportunities through creating more positions specifically for trainees and early career physicians, and encouraging targeted recruitment into positions open to the general membership. I know how very important this is, as some of my most transformative experiences emerged from leadership opportunities in the early days of my career.

Mentorship — Systemic changes creating more opportunity will be most successful if they are paired with individual and intentional mentorship of a diverse group of leaders, beginning as early as possible. This will ultimately extend our impact and reach, build a more diverse workforce and demonstrate the value of membership.   

Voice  Most importantly, we must create an inclusive environment where all members know they are heard and valued. With every decision point, we must take a moment to ask ourselves whose perspective is missing to bring in new ideas, challenge assumptions or see things we have missed. Actively seeking out meaningful input from trainees and early career physicians will ensure we remain a healthy and thriving organization, both now and into the future.

Medical subspecialists and surgical specialists are vital contributors to all aspects of our work across the AAP. Increasing recruitment and engagement of this important group has long been a priority, yet efforts have met with varied success. To further advance this important goal, we need collaborative and innovative approaches focused on increasing and promoting value.

Given that the specific needs and interests of different groups may vary widely, it is important to ask our subspecialist members what they most value, listen to their ideas and concerns, and work together to co-design impactful and achievable solutions. Reaching out to members and nonmembers through surveys, meetings, calls and personal conversations will help us to better identify how the AAP can best add value and how together we can most effectively utilize each member’s specific expertise.

Additionally, the AAP can help to facilitate innovative partnerships between different organizations and specialties. As an example, I currently lead a successful hospital and community-wide collaboration between primary care, neonatology, emergency medicine and social work focused on identifying and addressing perinatal mental health disorders. Each group brings a unique perspective, skill set and clinical access point, which allows us to comprehensively address this complex but important issue.

Lastly, across every specialty and practice setting, we all care deeply about children and families, and have dedicated our careers to making them healthier and stronger. By leveraging and amplifying our respective voices, we can promote engagement through providing opportunities to be strong and powerful advocates for child health.

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