More than 1,000 pediatric hospitalists gathered for four educational days (July 28-31, 2022) at the Disney Yacht Club Convention Center for our first in-person Pediatric Hospital Medicine (PHM) Conference since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since our last in-person conference in 2019, our PHM community has witnessed trauma and experienced grief. During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, some pediatric hospitalists were deployed to care for hospitalized adult patients, while others saw their inpatient pediatric units close temporarily or indefinitely. The PHM community watched and responded to the murders of George Floyd, Brianna Taylor, and others. We cared for and mourned the pediatric deaths and injuries from firearms, including the 19 children who died in Uvalde, Texas.
The PHM community’s energy was palpable over the long conference weekend as hospitalists captured one more selfie or lingered in their hugs for an extra second. Over the past three years, as a community, we were limited to video conference meetings and listserv posts to process and share our emotions related to these events and others.
The PHM Conference Planning Committee was intentional with its planning to highlight workshops related to physician resilience and equity, alongside the excellent enduring research and clinical content. However, this year’s conference was unique, in that it was interspersed with advocacy.
Dr. Patricia Poitevien opened the conference with a plenary session providing attendees with tools to engage in advocacy to dismantle systemic racism in medicine. Dr. Tim Cunningham’s plenary focused on advocating for post-traumatic personal and systemic growth using storytelling. Dr. Angela Goepferd’s plenary focused on strategies to advocate for safe, inclusive hospital care for LGBTQIA+ youth. The weekend ended with a plenary from Dr. Barbara Robbles-Ramamurthy on how to advocate for children during the mental health crisis in hospitals and communities.
In addition to the educational advocacy content, the conference held a charity run benefiting the Zebra coalition, a network of organizations in Orlando, Fla. that provide services to LGBTQIA+ youth facing homelessness, bullying, and abuse.
The message was clear from the plenaries and educational content—advocacy is an everyday activity.
As we encounter change, hospitalists are uniquely equipped to advocate for our patients when admitting and discharging them to physically and psychologically safe settings where they may recover from illness. Our advocacy can facilitate the evolution of safe workplaces for our personal growth as hospitalists.
Dr. Kumar is a pediatric hospitalist at Cleveland Clinic Children’s and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. She is a member of SHM’s Pediatrics SIG’s executive committee and is the pediatric editor for The Hospitalist.