President's Message

The Promise of Tomorrow & What We Can Do Today

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Dawn Garzon Maaks, PhD, CPNP-PC, PMHS, FAANP

Happy April everyone. I love spring! April is an important time for many people of different faith traditions. It is a month where we see the promise of tomorrow in the new growth and flowers. Kids start to realize that the school year is coming to an end, and graduations with the promise of the future start to fill out calendars. I hope each of you is well and healthy, and that our long sick season will soon end.

I loved meeting so many of you in New Orleans. Our national meeting is one of my favorite weeks of the year, and this year was no exception. I loved seeing so many hanging out with new friends and old, and I commend our Conference Planning Committee and education staff for putting on a rock star conference. For those who came up to me to say, “hello,” or to comment on something, I thank you. I was absolutely floored by Dr. Mona Hanna Attisha’s opening session where she talked about the Flint water crisis and provided stories from her book, What the Eyes Don’t See. She is clearly a pediatric warrior and one who understands wellness and loves children. I highly encourage you to read her book if you get the chance. I guarantee you won’t regret it. The thing she said that stuck with me deeply was her statement about how they built a clinic right above a farmers market so she could write prescriptions for a free piece of fruit or other healthy treat. Her thought was this might encourage families to use this resource and thereby improve the nutrition of the whole family. We should all be promoting health and wellness, in ourselves and our patients. This struck me as a shining example of thinking outside the box to do what we all want for our ultimate goal - helping kids be healthy today and for decades to come. I hope to use her example to come up with my own bright idea and challenge you to do the same. Not to mention her boldness in standing up for child health.

April is sexual assault awareness month. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports that one in three women and one in six men experience sexual violence, and one in five women experience rape in the U.S. I know many of us talk to patients about healthy sexuality and how to prevent intimate partner and stranger violence. I wonder how many of us also talk to patients about what consent is? I was at a recent mother’s weekend, and I asked the moms there whether they had talked to their daughters about consent. Most had spoken about safety at night, not accepting drinks they don’t see prepared, etc., but none had spoken to them about what consent or consent violations are. And none of them with sons had ever spoken to their sons about what consent is and how to change their behavior when a yes becomes a no. NSVRC has some good resources, including information about how to teach youth about consent, that you might find helpful. I argue that preventing sexual violence is a key part of health promotion for our adolescents.

May 6-12 is National Nurses Week. Please allow me to wish one and all a happy celebration of our profession. I absolutely love being a nurse and know that one of the reasons why I provide high-quality care to children and families is that I am a nurse and I bring the unique professional experience of nursing to each patient encounter. I am proud to be your colleague as we work together as nurses to improve pediatric health outcomes.

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