The month of October is always when the American Academy of Pediatrics holds its annual meeting, and this year Boston hosted more than 13,000 attendees for the occasion.  What makes me proud, is that while there are probably only 140 pediatricians, tops, in our state, it was great to see so many of our statewide health care professionals not only in Boston to learn what’s new, but making news at the meeting as well.

For example, the AAP’s office-based research network “Pediatric Research in Office Settings” (PROS) which conducts clinical studies in offices all over the country celebrated its 25th anniversary—and we are fortunate that the director of that program, Dr. Mort Wasserman, is a member of our department and someone who sees patients in our University Pediatrics primary care practice.

And speaking of University Pediatrics, each year the AAP selects two pediatricians nationwide who best reflect what it means to make a difference in the lives of children and families in our communities—and this year one of those two was our own Dr. Andrea Green. Dr. Green won the prestigious “Local Hero” award for her work overseeing our Immigrant Program at the University Pediatrics Burlington site.

Finally, it was wonderful to see our own Dr. Paula Duncan, co-author of Bright Futures, the AAP’s state-of-the-art manual for health maintenance visits (edited as well by Dr. Joe Hagan and Judy Shaw—also members of our faculty), receive the highest award bestowed by the AAP—the Abraham Jacoby Award —for her many outstanding contributions to the AAP and in turn the care of children and families.

If these three awards were not enough, many of our faculty chaired sessions and meetings at the annual convention, served as keynote speakers, and even emceed the national Pediatric Bowl (a massive game show played by several hundred participants all at once)—bringing national recognition to our department in multiple ways.

Throughout the national AAP meeting , I loved having people come up to me and ask the same recurrent question” How do you make such a difference nationally when you have such a small number of pediatricians in your state?”  The answer to that question is:  what drives each and every one of us is to maximize the quality of the care we provide to every one of our patients in ways that the rest of the world can learn and in turn strive to emulate.  Showing the country just what we can accomplish is exactly what transpired at the national AAP meeting—and during this Thanksgiving season, I am certainly thankful I was there to see it all happen.

P.S.  The awards just keep on coming!  Right after the AAP meeting, I learned that our own Dr. Jerry Lucey, whose many contributions to neonatology are legendary (from phototherapy for treatment of jaundice to establishing the Vermont Oxford Neonatal Network, the largest neonatal health outcomes network in the world)—was the recipient of the highest award given by the Institute of Medicine—the Gustave Lienhard Award—given in late October in Washington D.C.  And who said small departments and children’s hospitals cannot make a difference?  Our certainly does and will continue to do so in our quest to provide the highest quality cost-effective care to the children and families we serve.

Lewis First, M.D., is chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children’s Hospital at the University of Vermont Medical Center and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Larner College of Medicine at UVM. You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and on WPTZ Channel 5. Visit the First with Kids video archives at

Lewis First, MD, is chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at the University of Vermont.

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