Board update: Task force delivers plan to address bias, discrimination
AnneHegland, Editor in Chief
“It’s important to understand from where you’ve come in order to know where you’re
going,” said Joseph L. Wright, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, as he delivered the Task Force
on Addressing Bias and Discrimination’s final report and recommendations to the AAP
Board of Directors in May.
Dr. Wright, task force chair, went on to tell of the racial barriers faced by Roland
Scott, M.D., FAAP, one of the first African American members of the AAP. Dr. Scott,
known for his groundbreaking work on sickle cell disease, was not admitted to the
AAP on his first application in 1939. After extensive scrutiny, Dr. Scott was accepted
on his second application, along with Alonzo deGrate Smith, M.D., FAAP, in 1945.
The work of the task force also was influenced by personal experiences. For Dr. Wright,
among many microaggressions, it was being called the “n” word publicly for the first
time as a 14-year-old, he noted.
“As you hear these recommendations, think about them not only in the context of your
role as board member and leaders of this organization, but also what they mean for
the 67,000 members and how they’ll receive and interpret what the Academy has to say
about this,” urged Dr. Wright, chair of the AAP Committee on Pediatric Emergency Medicine
and senior vice president and chief medical officer at the University of Maryland
Capital Region Health.
The final report includes recommendations to incorporate bias and discrimination into
continuing medical education (CME) and Maintenance of Certification (MOC) activities;
to approach policy development using a health equity lens; and to educate families
on how to identify, manage and prevent the negative physical and emotional outcomes.
Dr. Wright said achieving child health equity requires the “synergistic” work of the
AAP Task Force on Addressing Bias and Discrimination coupled with the prior recommendations
of the Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion (see Venn diagram). “Health equity is
at the center of this work. Not only is it important in terms of child development,
but it’s good medicine,” he said.
To monitor implementation, both short and long term, the task force proposed qualitative
and quantitative measures, including metrics on the number of CME and MOC offerings,
and development of Periodic Surveys to track changes in member behavior and attitudes.
In addition, the task force worked with a public relations firm to develop messages
that will help pediatricians communicate with families about strategies to mitigate
bias and promote healthy development.
The board will continue to discuss the recommendations at the upcoming Board Strategic
A policy statement on the impact of racism on child health is scheduled for publication
in late July.
AMA: Together we are stronger
AMA Immediate-past President Barbara McIneny, M.D., FASCO, MACP, addressed the board,
delivering a message of shared issues and strength in numbers.
“It’s clear to everyone, the voice of pediatrics at the AMA is well-heard,” Dr. McIneny
said. “We have to take care of the kids. This should be a no-brainer, but it seems
to be under assault recently,” she said. “We continue to stand up for that and will
continue to do so.
“So we have worked hard on various policies that are near and dear to your heart,”
such as improvements to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Children’s
Health Insurance Program reauthorization, protecting access to care, gun violence
prevention and improving vaccination coverage.
“We do not want these diseases back, and we will stand firm with your organization
to make sure that the message of the benefits of vaccines is heard loud and clear,”
Dr. McIneny said.
“…Your issues are the issues of the entire House of Medicine. The issues that you
face, we all face. The voice that (the AAP) has in terms of being one of the more
altruistic, population-centered and respectful of health disparities is the voice
the AMA needs to hear. … And that voice will be stronger if you link arms with oncologists,
psychologists and surgeons and everybody else, and we say together as a group that
we need to do this work together.
“When we stand together, we win,” she said.
AAP President Kyle E. Yasuda, M.D., FAAP, commented: “I want to thank you because
much of what you’ve shared is aligned with what we’re doing and where our hearts are.
And that’s important especially when you raise the point that you are a voice to bring
the vast family of medicine together to bring significant changes.”
Establishment of the Child Health Improvement through Longitudinal Data (CHILD) registry
continues to be explored. The last several months have focused on:
Defining business and sustainability plans as well as outlining the financial commitments
needed to develop the registry.
Further defining the value of the registry.
Prioritizing key messages for payers and pharmaceutical companies that could serve
as potential partners for licensing data as part of the sustainability plan.
A detailed update on new research around this project is anticipated at the fall board
Physician health and wellness
Since the addition of physician health and wellness as a child health priority on
the AAP Agenda for Children in 2018, a number of initiatives have begun. The AAP remains
a collaborating partner with the National Academy of Medicine’s Action Collaborative
on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience, and a virtual AAP Wellness Steering Committee
In addition, the AAP and five other health care organizations are working together
on the Women’s Wellness through Equity and Leadership project to support the next
wave of female physician leaders. (See AAP News article “Project aims to support female
physicians in wellness, equity, leadership,” https://www.aappublications.org/news/2019/02/26/wel022619.) Their goals are to nurture a cohort of early- to mid-career female physicians in
wellness, leadership and equity initiatives; develop principles for equitable and
productive work environments; and develop a sustainable cross-society data collection
Digital Transformation Initiative (DTI)
Work continues to improve the Academy’s digital front door, AAP.org, to help improve
member experience. The latest DTI efforts include reviewing, refining and migrating
content from AAP.org to a new platform. Other work includes implementing new processes
and governance for creating, managing and maintaining content.
The board approved a 50% National Conference & Exhibition registration discount for
Section on Senior Members over age 80.
Also accepted was the fiscal year 2019-’20 AAP budget of $120,817,000. In submitting
the proposed budget, AAP CEO/Executive Vice President (Interim) Mark Del Monte, J.D.,
noted that it is a 4.1% increase over the current fiscal year’s budget. “What remains
clear is that AAP has never been more relevant and never been more necessary. If you
think about the issues affecting children today, the work this organization is doing
is right on time, in the right place and more needed than ever before.”