APA’s Health Policy Scholar’s Blog
Lois K. Lee, MD, MPH; Lauren Gambill, MD, MPA; Lenore Jarvis, MD, MEd
This year has highlighted the significance of health policy and advocacy in many important ways. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the weaknesses—but also the strengths—of the United States (U.S.) health system with its response to this unprecedented public health crisis. Clinicians have become an important voice not only for health care providers, but also for the American people. Those of us working on the frontline have been witnesses to what this pandemic has done to individuals around the country. We have also seen how structural racism in the U.S. is reflected in the inequities manifested in the morbidity and mortality of COVID-19. For our colleagues, family, friends, and the public, we have been defenders of science and the importance of facts in combatting this pandemic.
The importance of the clinician voice in conducting scholarly work, promoting public health and leading to change is the focus of the APA’s inaugural Health Policy Scholars Program (HPSP). As clinicians, we see firsthand how inequities in public health and health policy differentially affect populations. By conducting scholarly work, we can demonstrate through science and advocacy how to approach these inequities and ultimately affect change. In the 3-year HPSP we will provide Scholars with the knowledge and skills to better understand U.S. health policy and how to be a clinician advocate. The HPSP curriculum includes didactic lectures by experts in pediatric advocacy and interactive small group activities to introduce and expand on health policy and advocacy topics. The Scholars will complete a scholarly project related to health policy and advocacy, with guidance from their local mentors and national advisors. The HPSP also includes an advocacy experiential component beginning with institutional government affairs work in the first year, state-level governmental advocacy in the second year, and culminating with attendance at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Legislative Conference.
We are excited about selecting the first cohort of Scholars for the HPSP. Applications were submitted by October 1 and are currently under review. The applicants represent a range of pediatric specialties from around the U.S. and Canada. We look forward to announcing HPSP’s first cohort in December. This group of Scholars will come together virtually for the first time in the spring of 2021.
This challenging year has exhibited how important health policy is for the health and safety of the population. With the APA’s new Health Policy Scholars Program, we will advance a cohort of pediatric clinician advocates to further develop their academic careers in health policy and advocacy. They will then go on to disseminate their knowledge and skills to mentor and develop other pediatric clinicians in health policy and advocacy. Just knowing we are expanding the field of pediatric clinician health advocates to promote health and social change, provides hope during these difficult times.