I love doing things for the American Academy of Pediatrics. I have been a member since medical school and have served on national committees and in the leadership of the Michigan Chapter since 1994. Most of what I have done for the national group has been in the area of continuing medical education (CME). I have set up CME programs for the pediatricians in Michigan and after doing that for about 4 years was tapped to come to the national organization and do the same thing. The AAP tries hard to make the conferences geared to the practicing pediatrician both practical and stimulating and puts on one huge meeting each fall for 5 days in cities around the country (this year in Boston) for about 10,000 pediatricians. This weekend the group that plans the content and chooses the faculty is meeting in glamorous Elk Grove Village, IL where the AAP is headquartered to duke it out. The committee is made up of about 35 pediatricians and specialists from all over the country and we read through the literally thousands of session proposals to put together a meeting that will be diverse and practical and even highlight the cutting edge information in our specialty. Since I am one of only two private practice pediatricians on the committee, I have to fight to keep the program relevant and interesting to the generalist in practice. It is a wonderful group of people and I have made many friends as a result of my work with the Academy. I always learn something when I come to these meetings even though they are not CME activities themselves because the specialists come with an ax to grind on whatever the cutting edge topics are. I remember five years ago the Infectious Disease specialist in the group was really pushing to have MRSA (the resistant staph bug) prominently placed on the meeting agenda and we all thought he was nuts. MRSA was a rare problem, one that was specific to the hospitalized or very ill child and the thought that this was something the practicing pediatrician needed to be well versed in seemed remote and sort of sensational. We agreed to put it on the agenda for the meeting which was 18 months later. By the time the meeting came, we were all knee deep in MRSA and those sessions were completely full.
So far I have no MRSA smoking guns to report from this meeting but I can tell you that being involved in this way keeps me engaged in learning. I have always loved to learn but there are times when life sort of gets away from me and the ability to spend time perusing journals and reading review articles is non-existent. These meetings and my involvement in their planning helps fill that space for me, keeps me current and intrigued by the world of science and pediatric medicine. This fall, in Boston, I will have my national debut as a speaker. I have run these meetings (as a sort of emcee) but have not been a faculty member at the national level. I was asked to prepare a talk on Developmental and Behavioral issues using primarily video tapes of patients and photos (the session is called Visual Diagnosis) to highlight particular issues. I am just now starting to get the slides together and would love to get more video footage of kids with either developmental issues (like delays) and especially children with speech issues including the transient stuttering of the preschoolers and a variety of kids on the Autism spectrum. If you have a child with developmental issues/delays or speech and language issues and would be willing to let me interview you and your child in your home to use clips of as teaching tools I would greatly appreciate it!
The break here is over so I am back to work for the Academy.
Eat, love and play and each day will be your best!
Molly O’Shea, MD Birmingham Pediatrics + Wellness Center