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Letter from the Executive Coordinator

 

Welcome to SOPT​

Hello fellow medical students! It is an honor and a privilege to represent what I believe to be the most vibrant and forward thinking segment of American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) membership – the future pediatricians of our nation. Over the past two years, as I have served as your district representative to the medical student committee (MSC), I have been amazed by the level of engagement and enthusiasm coming from our segment of the Section on Pediatric Trainees (SOPT). While some of you may be certain that pediatrics is your calling, others may be just starting to explore this wonderful field. My job, with the help of the MSC, is to provide guidance, opportunities, leadership, and resources for whatever stage you may be at in your undergraduate medical education. Further, we want to empower all of you to become child health advocates, no matter what career path you choose!

As we move forward into the new year, I would like to share with you my vision for the future of medical students within the AAP. I hope that through a shared vision, we can inspire each other while building on the hard work of past medical student leaders. It is my hope that we, as medical students, continue to grow both in numbers and in presence within the Academy.

Integration into SOPT ​

As of 2014, medical students are recognized as national members of the AAP and have access to a myriad of benefits due to full membership. Through the hard work of the MSC, medical student involvement is at a record high due to providing medical students with access to tailored resources, their own student newsletter, individualized programming at the national conference, and a guide to becoming a pediatrician. We now have over 1,600 active Medical Student Members, and are continuously growing!

This year, we have a new governance structure (see below), which places medical students at the same level as residents and fellows within SOPT. The leadership structure was revised to streamline communication between the 14,000+ members in SOPT, increase the number of leadership positions for trainees, and continue to recruit and increase member value for all members, especially medical students and fellowship trainees. This new structure means that medical students will have equal say in the vision and strategic plan for the overall Section, as well as a voice at the table during important meetings such as the Annual Leadership Forum. Therefore, as the leader of the MSC, it is my goal to listen to your needs as medical students throughout the year and bring those needs to the forefront as we create new policies and programming for SOPT.


Expansion of Leadership Opportunities ​

Another goal for the upcoming year is to expand leadership opportunities for medical students across the country. As medical students, we are at a prime stage to develop as leaders and to take on new roles that challenge us to inspire others. We are working hard to promote leadership opportunities on both the national and local level. From our 21-member MSC, to our expansion of delegate positions on medical student campuses, we hope to continue to improve communication between the AAP and pediatric interest groups across the country. Finally, we hope to increase leadership opportunities by giving medical students the opportunity to serve as liaisons to the various councils, committees, chapters, and sections of the Academy.

Enhancing Medical Student Member Value​

With recognition as full members, there are now more resources for medical students than ever before. From AAP News, to Pediatrics online, to complimentary registration to the National Conference and Exhibition, the opportunities are endless. In addition, we are pushing hard to offer more medical student-specific tools, such as practice questions for the pediatric shelf exam and the Bright Futures Pocket Guide to keep in your white coat. We also want to improve and highlight existing membership benefits, such as the AAP Mentorship Program and the PedsConnect advising forum.  

We are continuing our annual Pediatric Interest Group of the Year Award to recognize groups going above and beyond in order to help medical students feel welcome in pediatrics. Each year, the winning group is recognized at the AAP National Conference. Further at the conference, the MSC also organizes a half- day program focused on medical student needs and interests. Included in this free event is a keynote address given by a child health advocate and an interactive residency panel where students can have their questions answered by pediatric residency program directors.

Putting Kids First Through Advocacy ​

In addition to providing resources for our members, SOPT also plays a strong role in child advocacy. We created our first national advocacy campaign in 2005 and have been building momentum ever since. Last year's campaign, FACE Poverty, was immensely successful not only due to the efforts of medical students and trainees, but also because of the amazing support of Academy leaders outside the Section. Partnering for Resilience: Learn, Empower and Connect to Address Toxic Stress is our current campaign. We hope you will join us in our efforts to help improve the health of our nation's children through initiatives to prevent and mitigate toxic stress whether that is at your home institution, community, state or federal level.

Thank you for your continued enthusiasm on behalf of children! We look forward to another year of progress and innovation within the MSC and SOPT. I am always open to ideas and feedback and encourage you to get in touch with your District Representatives or myself in order to help us improve your experience as a Medical Student Member of the AAP.

Rachel Nash, MPH
Executive Coordinator of Medical Student Initiatives
Section on Pediatric Trainees


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