ACPM CEO Donna Grande shares her thoughts and experiences from the second  day of our 2021 annual conference 

Two days down, two more to go! It’s hard to believe we are already halfway through our annual conference.

We started day two with the first of two plenary sessions – Climate Resilience and Environmental Justice. Conference Chair Dr. Katrina Rhodes moderated a discussion with leading experts in climate and environmental health. We know that human behavior has led to changes in our environment, and in this session, we learned how these changes impact the health of our communities and the urgent need for action to prevent a worsening climate crisis. In connection with yesterday’s KBS lecture, the panelists also discussed how the health consequences of climate change will continue to be borne disproportionately by minority and marginalized communities if action is not taken.

The second plenary of the day offered two perspectives on building vaccine confidence. First, Dr. Richard Bruno was joined by Dr. Chelsea Clinton to discuss the Clinton Foundation’s efforts with networks of faith leaders as trusted voices in the community to build vaccine confidence.  They also discussed the challenges of public messaging campaigns for vaccination and reaching populations that may believe in vaccines but don’t feel the urgency to receive them, and the ongoing work to bridge the “last mile” problem to reach disadvantaged communities. Following this discussion, Dr. Stephanie Zaza moderated a panel with Dr. Peter Marks of the Food and Drug Administration and Dr. Amanda Cohn of the CDC’s National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases, taking an in-depth look at the regulatory process that led to the rapid development and emergency authorization of the COVID-19 vaccines and the work regulatory agencies have done to ensure they are safe and effective.

In addition to the two plenary sessions, there were deep dive panels and presentations on a wide range of topics. From a fascinating discussion on the challenges containing a COVID-19 outbreak on an aircraft carrier, a deep dive into ethical considerations made when prioritizing early vaccine distribution, to a discussion with USDA on the new dietary guidelines for Americans, there were interesting, informative and practice defining discussions of relevance for the profession. One of the most compelling was a discussion with Drs. Boris Lushniak, Paul Jung, Ifeanyi Nwadukwe and Ahmad Jamal on the challenges and opportunities for securing a sustainable future for our preventive medicine residency programs. I hope each of you has signed up to attend our Advocacy session tomorrow and will continue to beat the drum for increased funding for residency programs. 

My favorite part of an in-person meeting is the chance to meet our members, learn their stories and build lasting relationships. That’s been difficult to recapture in the virtual working world we find ourselves in, but last evening we had a great series of networking discussions where members from all stages of their careers – medical school, residency and mid-career – connected with peers, discussed their passions and ambitions and shared with ACPM what the College can do to support them in reaching their career goals.

I’m looking forward to day three of the conference and hope to “see you” there!

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