President’s Column: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Rupin Thakkar, MD, FAAP

This is my last column as chapter President.  I am incredibly proud of the growth we have seen in membership and activity during my 12 years on the board.  The last few years in particular have been a time of exponential growth.  We have consecutively improved our participation record at Advocacy Day and celebrated significant legislative wins towards child safety and healthcare access; we have led the way on preparing pediatric practices and state agencies for healthcare transformation via our population health forums and tools focused on behavioral health integration and value-based payment; and we have educated hundreds of providers on developmental screening, depression screening, behavioral health, adolescent health, and immigrant health.  All of this could happen because of a strong rise in membership engagement, a diversification of our leadership, and our investment in a powerhouse staff.  We have developed a dream team under the direction of our talented executive director, Sarah Rafton.

Though more demanding than I even expected, my 2-year term as president has been fantastically fun and rewarding.  When I joined the chapter, I was seeking a professional home through which I could advocate for child health outside the walls of my daily workplace.  The chapter certainly serves that function for me.  But I have found that a professional home also brings with it a community of colleagues who strengthen, support and learn from each other.  During my term I have had the opportunity to travel the state and expand my circle of trusted colleagues and life-long friends.  During a time when physician burnout is becoming an epidemic, I am thankful to have you as a source of energy and inspiration to continue my drive.

Thankfully, this is not a farewell letter.  I have the privilege to continue on the WCAAP executive committee for two more years.  However, there are two trustees who are rotating off the board.  I am grateful to Kerry Harthcock for growing our membership and grooming new leaders in the Yakima area, and to Mike Dudas for his visionary leadership during his presidency and his chairmanship of the transformation committee.  At least we know they are hooked and will be lifelong members of the chapter.  When stepping out of a leadership position, one hopes for a strong successor.  I am truly excited that Elizabeth Meade is starting her term as chapter president.  The chapter will greatly benefit from her masterful communication skills and strategic thinking.  Together we will all continue to nurture each other while making Washington’s children healthier and safer.