Dennis Cooley, MD, FAAP
Kansas Chapter President
I just returned from the annual AAP District VI meeting which was held in Anaheim California. I truly enjoy these meetings not only because I get to see old friends from the other chapters in our District but because the AAP does a great job of informing us about the “hot topics” that are on the horizon. One of these hot topics is something called epigenetics. You may be familiar with this term but it was something new to me. Briefly, it is the study of “changes produced in gene expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence”. National leadership has felt that this is so important that it is now incorporated in the strategic plan of the AAP as one of its priorities. For more on this topic see the article on page 2 of this edition of the newsletter.
Another hot topic was the use of social media in our practices. Whether we like it or not this will be an important part of the future of pediatrics and I would encourage all of you learn about the various social media sites and to start to explore ways to use them in your practice. While there are many benefits with the use of this new form of communication there are also many pitfalls as we found out from the presentation at the district meeting. It would behoove you to be aware of these pitfalls. One of the ways the Chapter can help would be for us to offer a regular column in our newsletter on this topic much as we have done with coding. This will be one of my goals in my last year as president.
Early brain development continues to receive attention form the AAP and is in the second year of its implementation in the Strategic Plan. Unfortunately, as state governments look for programs to cut in the hard economic times programs that focus on early child development are easy marks. The AAP continues to encourage us to advocate to our legislators on the importance of these programs and to emphasize on the important economic impact such programs will have on our society in the future.
Speaking of advocacy, Mark Del Monte from the Department of Federal Government Affairs reviewed the current situation in Washington. As a member of the Committee of Federal Government Affairs I have gotten to know Mark and the DC staff. The staff consist of 14 of the hardest working people you will ever meet. These wonderful people are lobbyists for you. They go to bat for pediatricians every day. I can’t emphasize this too much. This is one of the important benefits you get from membership in the AAP.
Finally, while the AAP has weathered the recent recession and is on sound financial ground the uncertainty of the economy and the federal grant situation still means the organization must proceed cautiously. I think the AAP leadership has done a remarkable job to continue to provide its members services and fight for what is best for children.