In October 2011 Markus Renno’s, M.D., child advocacy interest was sparked when he was invited to attend the American Academy of Pediatrics, or AAP, Committee on Federal Government Affairs Meeting in Washington, DC. The weekend was filled with high-powered leaders discussing important topics which can have a significant impact on the field of pediatrics. This initial contact led Dr. Renno to apply for the AAP’s Department of Federal Affairs Internship Program in Washington, DC last fall. He was accepted and began the four-week internship this past January.
While there, Dr. Renno had the opportunity to learn about child advocacy on a larger scale, by delving into topics such as telehealth, the “HeLP America Act” and gun control legislation. The program, which includes both legislative and executive subject matters, is flexible and tailors each intern’s experience to his or her specific interests. Dr. Renno took the multi-faceted approach and rotated through various areas of specialization to obtain the most out of the program. While there, he met congressional leaders, had in-depth discussions about issues surrounding the field of pediatrics and got an up-close view of the legislative process at work. He also worked with the AAP’s communications office to draft his first opinion article, which was published in the Orlando Sentinel in January (and is one of Dr. Renno’s proudest accomplishments during his internship).
“I would highly recommend the program to any trainee interested in pediatrics or in pediatric residency,” Dr. Renno said. He completed the internship program in place of the month-long local community-based advocacy program, which is required of all trainees.
The AAP Department of Federal Affairs started the internship program in 1981, and advocates with congressional offices and federal agencies, as well as liaisons with other organizations concerned with child and adolescent health and the media. The internship program is primarily designed for those interested in learning about child health policy, the legislative process, federal advocacy and public affairs activities, and is available to medical students, residents and fellow trainees. Examples of internship activities include:
- Hearings and briefings: Interns attend congressional hearings on a variety of child health issues. Interns may also attend Committee meetings, public meetings at federal agencies, general oversight hearings, and/or educational briefings.
- Research: Interns assist with the preparation of background material on federal policy issues.
- Coalitions: Interns learn the value of forming useful collaborations with other organizations that have similar goals. Interns have the opportunity to attend coalition meetings with AAP staff and independently.
- Media: Interns with an interest in journalism can work with public affairs staff on communicating legislative issues effectively to reporters, AAP members and the general public.
“This experience has solidified my desire for making child advocacy an important part of my career for the rest of my life.”