Advocacy: The Missouri Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics has encouraged implementation of the Bright Futures Guidelines through advocacy and awareness campaigns. The chapter's advocacy efforts are generally directed at state legislators and include providing expert testimony, writing letters, and providing medical evidence. These efforts have been bolstered by the introduction of annual Advocacy Days, in which the chapter organizes pediatricians, pediatric residents, and representatives from academic institutions for a trip to the state capitol.
A typical Advocacy Day consists of a morning group session to review advocacy topics followed by separate meetings with state legislators. The chapter focuses its efforts on topics related to children's health rather than on pediatric professionals and finds that legislators are open to addressing the health care needs of children. The group reconvenes for a meal, which in 2013 included a question-and-answer session with a state representative, before debriefing and returning home. More than 80 pediatric health care providers participated in the 2014 Advocacy Day, and the chapter expects this number to increase in the future.
In recent years, the chapter's advocacy efforts have focused on vaccination and immunization as recommended in the Bright Futures Guidelines. In the 2013–2014 legislative session, these efforts resulted in adding the meningococcal vaccination to a list of requirements for students living on campus at public universities or colleges. Chapter leaders attribute this success to working with both the Gateway Immunization Coalition and State Senator Gina Walsh, a strong supporter of immunization. Senator Walsh kept the chapter updated on legislative hearings and appeared on local news stations with chapter president Dr. Sandra McKay to promote immunization.
Awareness: The chapter has worked with the Mid American Immunization Collaborative and Children's Mercy Hospital to plan a daylong information session on immunization for families. Held in Kansas City on September 10,
2014, this public event presented a documentary that explores the science behind immunizations and addresses common misperceptions regarding their associated risks. A panel discussion that included a chapter member and a survivor of meningitis followed.
The chapter planned a daylong conference in November 2014 for pediatric health care providers. This free session focused on early childhood brain development. Attendees earned continuing medical education credits through the University of Missouri. Several chapter members spoke at the event, and topics covered social and emotional well-being and classification.