By Michael Warren, MD MPH FAAP
AMCHP Board President
I admit that I am a bit of a meme-o-phile, if that's even a word. I am entertained and often fascinated by these graphics that pop up in my social media feeds. I recently saw a meme that talked about the importance of focusing on the future rather than dwelling on the past. It said, "There's a reason your windshield is bigger than your rearview mirror." Like most everything on social media, you can't take this quote entirely at face value. Indeed, it's important to have a future focus. And yet we also have so much to learn from the past.
As maternal and child health professionals, we are constantly faced with new challenges. However, colleagues in our own state or in other parts of the country have often encountered (and even endured or conquered!) similar challenges. Rather than reinvent the wheel with each new challenge, it is important to take stock of those who have gone before us to learn from their experiences. AMCHP provides us with multiple venues for connecting with colleagues across the country. Whether by viewing a webinar, participating in one of the leadership development programs, or networking at the annual conference, you can gain valuable insights from colleagues who have important lessons learned and stories to tell. Innovation Station can also be an excellent way to capitalize on the successes of others and incorporate promising or evidence-based practices into your own state.
When looking at my own past, one thing I've learned is to take a longer view rather than focusing on the immediate past. In our daily work, we can be frustrated with myriad challenges. Sometimes it can seem like we make little or no progress from day to day or even month to month. I have realized that it is more helpful to look at how far you've come over slightly longer periods of time — a couple months, six months, maybe even a year. Often I am surprised that even though it feels like things get "stuck" in the short term, a look back over a more prolonged period shows just how far we have come.
Back to the meme, I mentioned earlier: Clearly, we can't spend all of our time looking backward. As MCH professionals, we have a built-in opportunity to "look through the windshield" using the Block Grant Needs Assessment. We do that in a big way every five years, but we also should be doing ongoing needs assessments to identify emerging trends and issues. And next month, at the AMCHP Annual Conference, you will have an opportunity to hear about emerging issues and opportunities for addressing these in your own state. If you haven't yet registered, there is still time to do so.
Speaking of the annual conference — it is hard to believe that it has almost been a year since we were last together in Kansas City, and I began an exciting year of service as your association president. I am deeply grateful for the support and encouragement that so many of you have shown me and the board over the past year. I am also excited to "look through the windshield" at the future of AMCHP. We are all fortunate to have a highly capable and compassionate president-elect, Susan Chacon, assume the role of president. It has been an absolute pleasure to serve alongside Susan and the rest of the board. Please join me in supporting them as we look ahead to another exciting year of serving the children and families of our country.
Grateful for the opportunity to serve alongside you,