Hello from Washington D.C.! site of the American Public Health Association’s (APHA) annual conference. With snow in October, much of the east coast faced a shock, including me coming from Minnesota, but even more so for others in warmer areas of the country. The first day was filled with networking, starting at the Association of Teachers of Maternal and Child Health (ATMCH) student faculty breakfast. Here, faculty from MCH programs around the U.S. sat down with us trainees to discuss our interests and learn about research going at various schools. Immediately, I was able to connect with the MCH identity in a conference that hosts over 13,000 health professionals from multiple fields.
Next on the schedule was a town hall meeting, discussing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and MCH. Policy experts from the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP) and law and public health professionals discussed implications for funding, the ACA, and women’s health. Funding was a common theme today, as well as policy change, reflecting the atmosphere of being in our nations capital. Senator Tom Daschle continued this during the opening session, advocating on public health’s behalf, noting how much the U.S. spends on healthcare compared to other countries.
Jonathan Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service, also gave a unique speech during this opening session. He argued of the importance of reconnecting with nature, in order to better the health of our nation. Parks are free areas for people to walk or bike, however due to the current “park desert” phenomenon in many major cities especially, people have been less able to enjoy the power of nature. His mission to change this is a unique perspective that demands more attention.
The first day ended by attending APHA’s MCH section meeting, learning about opportunities and work the group is doing for the field. I had the chance to collaborate with professionals around the country doing a broad range of work, from breastfeeding advocates, to a doctor from the American Academy of Pediatrics. After a first full day, I look forward to what the week will bring. Keep coming back for updates about the meeting and my experience!