The first Sections in the Academy were established in 1948. In that year, Sections on Surgery, Allergy and Mental Growth and Development were approved by the AAP Executive Board. These groups were designed to provide a continuing education experience for Academy members with an interest in a particular aspect of pediatrics. Meetings were usually held at the time of the time of the Academy Annual meeting and consisted of scientific presentations from members the Section. There was minimal staff support with one person assigned to arrange meeting space and coffee breaks.
In the early 1980’s, the Academy Executive Board received several requests to form new Sections. The pros and cons of expanding the number of Sections were discussed by the Board. It was decided that opening the Academy to new Sections would broaden the base of support for children’s issues, provide a means of communication between pediatric surgeons, medical subspecialists, and the membership at large, contribute to the healthy growth of the Academy, and assist in bringing all physicians who share an interest in child health under the umbrella of the Academy.
The request to approve a Section required the signature of at least 40 Academy members. Only physicians who were spending at least 50% of their time caring for children were eligible for membership in a Section.
Initially, Sections were organized to educate their own members. Later, the Sections were asked to participate in the education of the general membership. Scientific presentations now vary from Section to Section. Some Sections continue to plan their programs primarily to meet the needs of their members, although meetings are open to any member of the Academy. Other Sections divide their educational program, half being for their members and half for the general membership. Still others use their meeting almost entirely to educate the general Academy membership.
In 1987, Dr Ken Slaw became Director of the Division of Sections, there were 12 Sections in the Academy. By the end of 1995, there were 41 Sections staffed by a Director of the Division, 4 Section managers and 3 secretaries. The sections were divided into three groups, the Surgical, Medical, and Multidisciplinary. Representatives from these Sections met as a Council once a year at the time of the Annual Meeting to discuss matters of general concern. In addition, the Section Executive Committees met twice a year to address specific issues pertaining to their Section.
Sections have become increasing involved in the planning of scientific meetings. Now, Sections are responsible for choosing topics and selecting speakers for more than 50% of the scientific program at the annual meetings. Three representatives from the Sections serve as liaison members on the Committee on Scientific Meetings when plans are being made for the Annual and Spring meetings of the Academy.
In 1990, the Board approved affiliate section membership, which allows nonphysicians to become members of a Section. Typically, this category was to allow nurses with a special interest in the topics being discussed at the scientific section meeting to join. The first Sections to add affiliate members were Perinatology, School Health, and Urology. Although the affiliates are full members of the Section, they were not designated as Fellows of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
To facilitate the management of the Sections, a Committee on Section Management was formed in 1989. This committee consists of 5 members with representation from each of the 3 groups of sections. The Committee meets four times a year to discuss internal management issues, staffing requirements, Section participation in planning for the Annual and Spring meeting of the Academy, and policy issues. In an effort to involve the Sections in policy decisions of the Academy, representatives from these Sections now serve on Academy Standing committees. Many of the sections have voting members on a related committee. Since committees are charged with formulating Academy policies for approval by the Executive Board, voting membership on Academy committees provides a mechanism for sections to influence Academy policy. Other Section members serve as nonvoting liaison members, serving the committees in an advisory capacity. Recently, Sections have begun to develop policy statements that have been reviewed and approved by the Executive Board. They follow the same procedure as Committees in developing an intent for statement which must be approved by the Executive Board before proceeding with the development of a statement.
Section participation in the policy development process has become increasingly important in the age of managed care. Referral and payment issues have been addressed by the Academy in support of the pediatric surgical groups and medical subspecialists. Positions taken by the Academy reflect its concern about the restrictions on referrals to pediatric surgeons and pediatric subspecialists imposed by managed care systems.
The Sections have recently become engaged in organizing continuing education courses to prepare subspecialists for the recertification examination. Five day courses in neonatal medicine, emergency medicine, adolescence, and infectious diseases have been held for those physicians who are required to renew their time limited certification. While most of the scientific meetings of the section are held at the time of the Annual or Spring meeting, several of the Sections have met at other times. The Perinatal Section has held workshops in the spring of the year. The Uniform Services Section has always met in the spring. Even though these meetings are held at separate times and locations from the national Academy meetings, they still receive staff support from the Academy.
The Academy now recognizes the important of sections as an integral part of the Academy. More than 25,000 members now belong to one or more sections. The contributions of the sections to the educational activities of the Academy and to the development of Academy policy cannot be overstated.
Section on Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
The Section on Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics has its roots in the Section on Mental Growth and Development, one of the first Sections established in 1948. That Section changed its name to Section on Mental Health in 1954. The Section had a difficult time finding its focus and it was discontinued in 1958. To address the concerns of the members of the Section, the Academy established a Committee on Child Development, which soon resolved the problem of the focus of the Section. The Section reemerged in 1960 as the Section on Child Development.
The Section established a Health Education Committee which revised the Academy bibliography on sex education with a pamphlet, “Selected References on Sex Education,” published in 1965. In 1967, the Education Committee published Training Opportunities in Child Development, a list of training programs for pediatricians in child development and child psychiatry. The Section also established a Subcommittee on Mental Retardation, which sought to improve medical education for the retarded child. The Section worked closely with the Academy’s Committee on Handicapped Child on efforts to improve the care of retarded children. The Section increased coverage of problems of handicapped children in annual meeting programs. This led to establishment of a Teaching Institute on Mental Retardation in 1964. The Section also established the C. Anderson Aldrich Award in 1964 with funding from Ross Laboratories. The Section also established a Sub-Committee on Implications of Federal Legislation on Programs for Child Development, which tracked the effects of such legislation on child development programs.
During the early 1970’s, the Section was involved with efforts to improve television programming for children. The Section also surveyed child development teaching in major pediatric departments. In 1973, the Section established the Dale Richmond Memorial Award Lecture and Professor Urie Bronfenbrenner gave the first lecture to a capacity crowd.
In 1988, the Section changed its name to Section on Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. In 1990, the Section on Children with Disabilities was formed. Given their similar interests, the Section on Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics sought to arrange joint programs with the new Section, but the latter preferred to hold its own scientific meetings. The Section has held joint programs with other Sections, most notably Community Pediatrics, Adolescent Medicine and sometimes others. The Section also established liaisons with the Committee on Early Childhood, Adoption and Dependent Care and the Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health. The Section also had a member on the Task Force on Coding for Mental Health Disorders in Children and later had a representative on the AcademyTask Force on the Family. The Section played a major role in planning and securing funding for a Consensus Conference on Developmental Issues Related to Children held in November, 1991. The Section also was involved with the Future of Pediatric Education projects.
A major concern of the Section has been the establishment of board certification in developmental and behavioral pediatrics as a pediatric subspecialty. In an article, “An Idea Whose Time Has Come,” published in August, 1975 in Pediatric Clinics of North America, Section member Dr Julius Richmond explained the differences between child psychiatry and developmental and behavioral pediatrics and laid out his case for establishment of a subspecialty in the latter field. Sparked by this article, the Section sought to convince the American Board of Pediatrics that a subspecialty certification in developmental and behavioral pediatrics was needed. Their efforts were unsuccessful, but the issue would not go away. The Section tried again in the nineties and encouraged its members to write in support of this initiative. Their efforts were successful as the Board agreed to consider such a subspecialty. To further this project, the Section joined with the Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics in developing a database of board-level questions for self-assessment in Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. The Section solicited such questions from its membership. The Academy endorsed the proposal for the new subspecialty. Nevertheless, there was opposition from child and adolescent psychiatrists, who felt that the proposed subspecialty overlapped with theirs. Despite such opposition, the American Board of Pediatrics finally agreed to establish the new subspecialty. The first certification exam is tentatively set for 2002.
In recent years, the Section has concerned itself with issues such as RBRVS, attention deficit disorder and other learning disabilities, the effects of maternal substance abuse on children, spanking, music and violence, grief counseling, and the need for hospice care for dying children. One feature of its scientific meetings has been a program on the ten best papers published during the year. The Section also assisted in the preparation of Academy brochures on topics of interest to Section members. Membership has grown steadily to the point that the Section is the fifth largest in the Academy. During the nineties, the Section initiated a “Tell a Friend” program under which members recruited their friends in the profession to join the Section. There were various efforts to start a newsletter and an occasional newsletter appeared prior to 1991. In that year, the Section established a formal newsletter that has been published twice a year ever since. In 1994 and 1995, the Section also conducted a needs assessment survey of its members to determine which areas were most important to members. In 1996, the Section also established a Home page on the Academy Web site that also helped the Section communicate with its membership. In February, 2000, the Section held a two-day Strategic Planning Meeting to plan new initiatives. One of the first goals will be to establish affiliate membership.
Section on Pediatric Pathology
Pediatric pathology has always been a small field. Nevertheless, there are some practitioners. There have been periodic attempts to serve their interests. During the forties, the Academy sent representatives to the Tumor Registry of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. In 1956, the Academy established a Committee on Pediatric Pathology headed by Sidney Farber, MD, FAAP. Other luminaries who served on the committee were William B. Kiesewetter, MD, FAAP, Robert S. Cleland, MD, FAAP, George H. Fetterman, MD, FAAP, Wolf Zuelzer, MD, FAAP, and Edith Potter, MD, FAAP. The latter is especially famous for her work at Chicago Lying-in Hospital where she did autopsies on every infant who was stillborn or died at birth. Her work led to changes in the birthing process which saved many young lives. Dr. Kiesewetter became active in the Section on Surgery and eventually served as Chairman. The Committee on Pediatric Pathology was short-lived. It disbanded in 1962.
In the 1980’s, there was some interest in a Section on Pathology, and in 1987, the Executive Board approved the establishment of a Section on Pathology. There was insufficient interest and this Section was disbanded in 1993. Dr. Virginia Anderson, who headed the Section at its end, and Dr. David Annunziato, who chaired ACBOE at that time, can give further details regarding the demise of the Section. The Council on Sections Management suggested that the Section membership could be given an opportunity to form a new provisional section or task force to carry out its mission. The Council also proposed to establish a liaison with the Society of Pediatric Pathology. Apparently, this was not done since there is no representative to the Society listed among Academy liaisons to other national organizations in Fellowship Directories. The chief difficulty in establishing any committee or section for pediatric pathologists is that they are a small specialty and they are not in one large organization. There is a small Society of Pediatric Pathology, but the Academy has only a small number among its members. The American Society for Clinical Pathology has over sixty pediatric pathologists in its membership. There probably are some in the College of American Pathologists as well. Since they are in different organizations instead of in one large organization, it is difficult for any large organization to meet their needs.
View all Academy Sections here.