American Academy of Pediatrics Expands Climate Focus

About 1 year ago, the climate-passionate pediatricians within the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) looked to expand the efforts of the Academy on climate. They identified 1 or more climate-concerned pediatricians in all 59 U.S. chapters (States, DC, Puerto Rico) and began virtual monthly meetings. Since that time, these advocates and their staffers have markedly increased their activity. Some of their notable activities include:

  • A resolution on climate is often the first step toward climate awareness for an organization. Only one chapter had a resolution at the beginning of this project. Ten now do, and 9 more are in the process of proposing and adopting resolutions.
  • A year ago, only one AAP Chapter (N.J.) had a climate committee. Now 14 have them, and 7 more are in the works.
  • 11 chapters now have climate information on their websites, and 7 had climate articles in their newsletters.
  • 8 chapters will have clean energy on their list of legislative priorities for the upcoming state legislative sessions.
  • An education subcommittee has been granted permission by the American Board of Pediatrics to create Maintenance of Certification modules – one on climate and health education and a QI project on incorporation of climate into well child visits.
  • South Carolina and Puerto Rico advocates began state clinician for climate action groups and advocates from 2 more states are working on a group for their state.
  • Several have created local or state pediatrician/climate groups. Various advocates have worked with environmental organizations, art museums, air pollution boards, faith groups on projects.
  • Three research articles have come out of the advocates this year – one on climate as a social determinant of health, one on incorporation of climate into residency education, and one by 2 medical students with an advocate mentor on medical student climate activism.
  • Results from a survey about what parents want to hear about climate from their pediatrician is soon to be published.

This is a replicable model for other national medical and nursing organizations. Since most of the action from our societies occurs at a national level, that leaves out the majority of the members and many state affiliates of our medical societies have little to no action on climate. The fact that the AAP gave permission has granted credibility within AAP chapters; the many actions from the chapters, in turn, tells the AAP that this topic really matters to pediatricians. The meetings and sharing of ideas is rather contagious and has led to busy doctors finding time to do climate-activism projects.