This summer Robert Macauley, MD, and Dawn Nolt, MD, MPH, each finished their terms of service on AAP executive committees. Dr. Macauley was Chair of the Committee on Bioethics, and Dr. Nolt served on the Committee on Infectious Diseases. This month, they give us insights of what it was like to be in national-level pediatric leadership roles, how they got started, and their advice for those considering AAP committee positions.


Robert Macauley, MD, FAAP, Committee on Bioethics (COB)

Dr. Macauley began serving on COB in 2017, after a colleague unexpectedly nominated him.

“Once I was appointed to COB, I felt like a kid at the grownups’ table,” he said. “I wondered what I might conceivably have to add to the insightful discussion of other committee members, whose writings I’d admired for a long time. But at my first meeting when I finally mustered the courage to speak up, and no one laughed at what I said—quite the contrary, they nodded with respect and interest—I started to believe in myself.”

Later, Dr. Macauley was invited to become Chair, which he describes as, “an incredibly rich and meaningful experience.”

He said that the most rewarding aspect of his service on COB was working with other AAP committees and outside groups to formulate position statements and clinical reports that were broad ranging and practically relevant. Collaborators included the AAP’s Section on Global Health and the Committee on Medical Liability and Risk Management, as well as the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology Ethics Committee.

Dr. Macauley’s advice for those considering AAP leadership positions: “Don’t sell yourself short, because even the folks who seem to have it all together probably doubted themselves a ton in the beginning. And we all have something to contribute to the Academy, based on the important work we’re called to do.”


Dawn Nolt, MD, MPH, FAAP, Committee on Infectious Diseases (COID)

Dr. Nolt decided to serve on COID because she says, “It is one of the few opportunities for infectious diseases specialists to influence healthcare decisions at a national level for children.”

Her time on COID was unique in that she served during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Nolt said that COID members were assigned to be on-call for the many media requests flooding in, and the committee wrote or heavily influenced AAP policies on COVID-19 in children.

As part of her committee work, Dr. Nolt first-authored clinical reports on head lice, pediatric tuberculosis infection, and alternative birth practices. These reports impact the testing and treatment of infectious diseases in children, and Dr. Nolt said they are some of her proudest committee accomplishments.

“Every applicant has unique qualifications to bring to an AAP committee, so definitely apply if you are interested,” Dr. Nolt says. “It is a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with people across the country who have a singular purpose: to better the lives of children.”



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