The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) was founded in 1930 at Harper Hospital in Detroit. A group of 34 physicians who specialized in children’s health convened in the hospital’s library to set forth the future of America’s children, acknowledging the differences between adult and child health care. They settled on the name American Academy of Pediatrics because it best represented the commitment to all children and the pediatric specialty.
Today, the AAP is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) Illinois corporation organized for scientific and educational purposes, with a strong presence in the United States and overseas. The organization has a membership of 60,000 pediatricians; pediatric medical subspecialists, including neonatologists, allergists, and cardiologists; and pediatric surgical specialists. The AAP employs more than 350 people, who work at AAP headquarters in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, and in Washington, DC, where legislative and federal activities are managed.
Mission And Organizational Structure
The mission of the American Academy of Pediatrics is to attain optimal physical, mental, and social health and well-being for all infants, children, adolescents, and young adults. The AAP’s mission is carried out in a number of ways. The organization is governed by a 13-member board of directors who maintains the integrity of the AAP mission by following a set of organizational bylaws. The board comprises an executive committee and directors. These pediatric health practitioners are elected by AAP members and serve as chairs representing 10 geographic districts.
Internally, staff in the Office of the Executive Director handles Board Administration, Development/ Fundraising, Communications, International and Interprofessional Affairs, Human Resources, and the Customer Service Center. Other staffed areas within the AAP include separate departments according to specialty. These areas are the Departments of Chapter and State Affairs; Community and Specialty Pediatrics; Practice; Research; Education; Finance and Administrative Services; Information Technology; Marketing and Publications; Membership; and Federal Affairs (based in Washington, DC).
Another important facet of the AAP is a grassroots network of 59 chapters in the United States and 7 in Canada. Each state and local chapter is individually incorporated, has its own bylaws, and is managed by local pediatricians. Most have a staff executive director. Chapter leaders strive to fulfill the AAP mission on the state and local level and work to implement other local priorities on behalf of children and adolescents.
Education And Advocacy
The AAP receives funding from a variety of sources, including membership dues, individual contributions, and unrestricted educational grants from foundations, corporations, and government entities. These valuable resources help support more than 200 AAP-sponsored programs every year.
Programs cover a broad range of issues, such as neonatal resuscitation, obesity, childhood immunization, breast-feeding, car-seat safety, media literacy, prevention, and health promotion. Patient and family brochures on these and other topics are available to the public and health professionals, and a series of child care books written by AAP members is featured in the AAP bookstore.
The AAP sponsors ongoing continuing medical education (CME) courses and is considered the premier source of CME for pediatricians. These courses help advance the professional education of AAP members and are held in hospitals, universities, and other settings around the United States as well as through Internet-based learning environments.
More than 30 AAP national committees, covering issues ranging from adoption and infectious diseases to violence and poison prevention, are responsible for creating the organization’s policy statements. These statements appear in Pediatrics, the AAP’s monthly scientific journal and are used as recommendations in pediatric care.
Additionally, the AAP has more than 50 sections consisting of more than 30,000 members with interests in specialized areas of pediatrics, such as surgery, ophthalmology, breast-feeding, critical care, endocrinology, and pediatric dentistry. Section members present current research and practical knowledge in their respective subspecialties during various scientific meetings throughout the year, including the AAP’s National Conference and Exhibition (NCE).
Federal advocacy initiatives have been handled by staff at the AAP’s Department of Federal Affairs, based in Washington, DC, for more than 30 years. Pediatricians active in child advocacy collaborate with lawmakers to help ensure that the health needs and concerns of all children are covered as legislation and public policy are developed. An annual legislative conference in Washington, DC, brings together pediatricians, lawmakers, and other concerned individuals to address current issues and public policy.
On the state level, AAP staff provides technical assistance to chapters on a variety of issues, including Medicaid, child safety, and immunizations. Chapter leaders maintain relationships with local and state lawmakers, working with them on advocacy, policy, and other legislative initiatives.
Academy Successes And Milestones
During the past 75 years, the AAP has earned a proud place in the advancement of child and adolescent health, serving as pioneers in a variety of areas. Among the most notable are the following:
- The AAP Task Force on Infant Sleep Position focused on sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS.) The task force developed a landmark 1992 AAP policy statement that urged parents and guardians to put infants to sleep on their backs to prevent SIDS. As a result of this effort, dubbed “The Back to Sleep Campaign,” more than 10,000 infants are alive today.
- The Academy’s immunization initiatives have increased immunization rates among children and adolescents and lowered the incidence of infectious childhood diseases such as polio, measles, chicken pox, and pneumonia. This was accomplished through an organized grassroots effort facilitated by local pediatricians and the AAP chapter network.
- More than 1 million pediatricians and other heath care professionals in the United States and overseas have been trained in the AAP’s Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP.) The NRP, launched in 1987, has become the standard of care for treatment of newborns at birth. Additionally, NRP materials have been translated into 22 languages and introduced in 71 countries.
- American Academy of Pediatrics, http://www.aap.org
- American Academy of (2004). We believe in the inherent worth of all children. Chicago: Author.
- American Academy of (2005). Dedicated to the health of all children: 75 years of caring 1930–2005. Chicago: Author.
- Hughes, A., & James, G. (1980). American Academy of Pediatrics: The first 50 years. Chicago: American Academy of Pediatrics.