Young and seasoned leaders translate AAP advocacy skills in many places, languages
TrishaKorioth, Staff Writer
Thousands of pediatricians have participated in AAP opportunities to learn how to
advocate for kids in their communities and across the nation.
The AAP recognizes that children benefit when members are taught how to be effective
advocates, whether it’s visiting Capitol Hill, attending the Legislative Conference
or taking part in collaborative advocacy activities.
Pediatricians, residents and medical students have discovered that they can use their
advocacy skills to make an impact wherever they live and work around the world.
Global health at home
Lauren E. Palladino, M.D., a third-year resident at Yale School of Medicine, seized
a chance to see her professor, Linda D. Arnold, M.D., FAAP, speak at the 2018 International
Summit in Human Genetics and Genomics.
Dr. Arnold said she used the advocacy skills she has acquired over nearly 30 years
as an active AAP member and past chair of the AAP Section on International Child Health
(SOICH) to amplify her voice and message.
It was because of Dr. Arnold that Dr. Palladino participated in the AAP Legislative
Conference and Washington, D.C., internship program.
Dr. Palladino recalls feeling amazed at the AAP’s impact on policies affecting children.
She attended hearings, including one about the separation of immigrant children from
their families. Legislators frequently cited AAP policy and quoted AAP leaders, she
“This reinforced the importance of coming forward and speaking out on matters that
have to do with children’s health and well-being,” Dr. Palladino said. “We have the
responsibility to keep speaking out on these issues because they do affect kids and
what we say is taken seriously.”
Translating research into policy
Medical student Joseph R. Starnes said that interning with the AAP made him better
prepared for an internship with the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland.
“The opportunity the AAP offers students and residents is unparalleled,” said Starnes,
a SOICH member.
As an AAP intern, Starnes learned how to translate research into policy. He worked
on federal advocacy initiatives supporting the Children’s Health Insurance Program,
Affordable Care Act and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. He also had a chance
to work on noncommunicable diseases issues. Those skills helped later when he wrote
policy briefs about universal health coverage as a WHO intern.
The federal advocacy experience changed his approach to global research, he said.
“Someone who goes to medical school spends a lot of time seeing what an academic medicine
career looks like, but not necessarily how that translates to global health and global
health policy,” he said. “It’s definitely framed our research differently having seen
how people in D.C. think about research when they’re thinking about policy.”
Before traveling to Malawi last year, Sanemba Aya Fanny, M.D., met leaders, legislators
and congressional aides as an AAP intern.
“One day, I spoke three languages in the same afternoon,” said Dr. Fanny, a third-year
resident at Baylor College of Medicine. “I got to understand how decisions are made
and how people advocate for global health agenda and ask for budgets and allocate
(funds) to diseases and programs. Now that I am in the field (in Malawi), I’m on the
receiving end. It helps the provider understand where the decisions are coming from.”
The AAP values young members like Dr. Fanny, Dr. Palladino and Starnes who carry out
federal advocacy and policy work and can extend it to benefit all children, said Janna
Patterson, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, senior vice president, AAP Global Child Health and
“We hope they come away from (their) experience appreciating both the Academy's role
in local and global child health and ways they can engage in global advocacy on behalf
of the AAP going forward,” Dr. Patterson said.
The AAP also is collaborating with pediatric leaders from other nations.
An AAP/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention program is providing advocacy skills
training to leaders from pediatric sister societies in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Indonesia,
Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Romania, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Uganda.
The plans they develop mirror AAP federal advocacy approaches and aim to help sister
pediatric societies facing familiar issues such as vaccine hesitancy and tobacco and
secondhand smoke. (See http://bit.ly/Abroad032218.)
Dr. Patterson recalled that experiences with and knowledge about other health systems
helped her build a stronger connection to refugee patients she cared for in the U.S.
“What we do in other parts of the world links to the United States,” she said.
Dr. Arnold added, “The AAP gives members the opportunity to use their voices to advocate
for children living beyond U.S. borders and also to advocate for international children
who are now living here in the U.S.”