“Kindness to children, love for children, goodness for children—these are the only investments that never fail” – Henry David Thoreau.
“Where to young lady?” my friendly cab driver asked as I stepped out of the Tallahassee airport. “I’m headed to the capitol.” As I heard myself speak these words, I realized what an interesting opportunity I had today. Not only did I have the unique chance to remove myself from my hectic life as an intern, but I was here as an advocate for my residency program, for All Children’s Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine, and most importantly for Florida’s children.
The day was a whirlwind of hand shaking, meetings with legislators and even a press conference which I was fortunate to participate in. I traveled from office to office with our hospital lobbyist, proud to say that I was a member of the inaugural residency class at ACH JHM. I heard myself as if I were removed from my own body, speaking to politicians with far more education and life experience than I, about what makes All Children’s Hospital so special. I spoke about our patients and their families, many of them insured by Medicaid and in need of resources. I spoke about the wide range of fascinating pathology we see on a daily basis, due to our hospital’s unique availability of over 43 medical and surgical subspecialists. As a freestanding children’s hospital, state funding is a large portion of what we rely on to continue to educate and train our aspiring pediatric physicians and specialists. With referrals from several surrounding hospitals, cities and counties, I explained the importance of continued support from the great state of Florida.
When I returned from my trip, my fellow residents and attending physicians around the hospital asked me lots of questions. “How did you know what to say? Were you nervous? Were you intimidated?” My answers were not what they expected. I told them that it is not hard to advocate for your hospital when you truly love where you go to work every day, and where you get to live your passion to heal children. I was not nervous, because from the first day my program has taught me to be innovative, to be an independent thinker, and to stand up for what it is that I believe. And although politicians are strong people, it is not intimidating to speak to them, because they collectively believe in our cause and what the institution of All Children’s Hospital-JHM stands for.
My day in the capitol speaking to our state legislators reminded me of my unique duty as a pediatric physician, to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves. It reminded me that it is our responsibility as pediatricians to promote “goodness for children” as it is one of our most worthwhile investments for the future.
Brianna Conforti, MD, MS.
All Children’s Hospital Johns Hopkins Pediatric Residency- Class of 2017