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Word from the President

August 5, 2016

By Andrew Kiragu, MD

I am privileged to have the opportunity to serve as your president. I have some pretty big shoes to fill following in the footsteps of my predecessor, Dr. Susan Berry. Please join me in congratulating her for doing an outstanding job in representing our Chapter and the children of our state. She has presided over significant growth of the organization and been instrumental in efforts to further children’s health, the most notable of which was the passage of the newborn screening restoration law in 2014.

Children continue to face a number of challenges in Minnesota. One that many of you are undoubtedly familiar with is the significant difficulty with access to mental health services for pediatric patients. The MN Department of Human Services estimates that 109,000 children and youth, birth to age 21, in Minnesota need treatment for serious emotional disturbances. We will need to continue to work together to ensure adequate access to care for these children.

There continue to be concerns about the child protection system in our state. The Governor’s Task Force on the Protection of Children provided recommendations on ways to improve the child protection system in our state, which should help chart the way forward.

A significant increase in gun related violence around the country points to the importance of our Chapter in particular and pediatricians as a whole, being engaged in working with the state legislature on enacting commonsense gun safety laws that protect children.

There continue to be significant health disparities in Minnesota. The 2014 Advancing Health Equity Report from the MN Department of Health pointed to the persistence of health disparities in our state. The report revealed that even where health outcomes have improved overall, as in infant mortality rates, the disparities in these outcomes remain unchanged: American Indian and African American babies are still dying at twice the rate of white babies. The report also highlighted inequities in social and economic factors that are the key contributors to health disparities and to structural racism.

Another issue that we also hope to focus on is that of physician burnout. This is often described in terms of the experience of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and a lost sense of personal accomplishment. It is a growing problem for physicians and for their patients, leading to a lower quality of patient care where professional burnout rates are higher.

I am excited about the possibilities that the future holds for our chosen profession. After all, we have the best job in the world. We care for children. To see the sparkle in a child’s eyes and the joy that this brings parents is one of the things I love most about pediatrics. I look forward to working with all of you to find solutions for the issues facing the children of our state and the challenges that we as pediatricians face in caring for them. Please email with your concerns and ideas for how we can best serve Minnesota’s kids.

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