"Freedom from infections for all children through excellent clinical care, research, education, and advocacy"

This is the vision of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, built on the guiding principles of our Founding Fathers (and Mothers). To this end, the Society has realized significant accomplishments over the past two years under David Kimberlin's outstanding and insightful leadership.

So, where do we go from here?

In the past month, the Society has reviewed the priorities of the members as revealed in the most recent Needs Assessment survey. Based on those results, we have established five pillars upon which to build the activities of the Society over the next two years and, through the Strategic Planning exercise during the recent PAS meeting, developed strategies to strengthen these pillars.

Pillar 1: Value of Infectious Diseases to Hospital Systems

As health care in the United States moves from fee-for-service to contract-based reimbursement for clinical services, the value of our expertise in meeting the goals of hospital systems, in both financial and clinical outcomes, will be paramount. Led by Dr. Julia Szymczak, a post-doctoral fellow in medical sociology, the Society's Value of Pediatric ID as a Subspecialty subcommittee has completed a qualitative, focus-group based study of five pediatric inpatient units and will publish the results soon. In addition, the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society will soon publish a systematic review of pediatric antibiotic stewardship programs, accompanied by an editorial, and Dr. Theo Zaoutis' group is conducting a quantitative study of the outcomes of patients with and without PID consultations. Materials from these efforts will be available to members as they educate their health systems about the value of our clinical services.

Pillar 2: Recruitment of Future ID Pediatricians

This was not a good year for the ID match, either for adult or pediatric training programs. Only 41% of PID participating training programs and 45% of certified positions in PID filled. The Needs Assessment survey identified three priorities in meeting this challenge: (a) Increase the awareness of the value of PID consultations, (b) Increase efforts to achieve compensation equal to other subspecialties, which is directly related to (a), and (c) Increase awareness of career choices for PID trainees. Over the next two years, our Society will work with IDSA to better understand and reverse the recent trend away from infectious diseases among young physicians and will develop materials for training programs to educate their students, residents, and ID trainees about the wide variety of professional opportunities for pediatricians with ID expertise.

Pillar 3: Training and Guidance for PID Fellows

Our fellows are our future and, since its inception, the Society has been devoted to facilitating the education of new ID pediatricians. The top four priorities identified in the Needs Assessment survey regarding fellowship training are: (a) Develop training opportunities for the care of the immunocompromised host, (b) Develop training opportunities related to antibiotic stewardship, (c) Enrich research opportunities, and (d) Provide career guidance. The Society will meet these priorities by continuing to support/endorse courses on transplant infectious disease, HIV pediatric disease, and related topics in conjunction with the St. Jude/PIDS Pediatric Infectious Diseases Research Conference and the annual International Pediatric Antibiotic Stewardship Conference held at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. In addition, the Society and its Foundation will continue to provide research awards to promising fellows and to support the St. Jude/PIDS Pediatric Infectious Diseases Research Conference in its highly valuable career development sessions.

Pillar 4: Research Activities Related to Pediatric Infectious Diseases

Developing new understanding of microbes and their disease-causing processes as well as evaluating the most effective means for diagnosing, treating, and preventing infections has been a cornerstone of the Society since its very beginnings. And yet, lack of research funding was identified in the Needs Assessment survey as the third greatest concern among our members. Almost 40% of respondents felt Society resources should be devoted to identifying key national research priorities in PID and lobbying for federal action and funding, which is a major activity of the Research Affairs Committee. Further, almost 80% of respondents indicated they are interested in participating in PID-related clinical multicenter studies. The future is bright for our members in these activities and the Research Affairs Committee will assist in identifying and coordinating such opportunities.

Pillar 5: Engagement of New and Established PIDS Members

Our Society is rich with members who generously contribute their time and expertise to its many activities. And yet, the Needs Assessment survey revealed that only 55% of respondents feel engaged with PIDS activities. This, actually, isn't bad for a professional society, but we can do better. Over the next two years, the Society will continue to encourage its members to participate in our important activities. What can you do? For starters:

  1. Maintain your membership by paying the annual PIDS dues
  2. Volunteer for committee membership. If your first request cannot be honored, reapply next year. And the next.
  3. Respond to the next Needs Assessment survey so we know what is most important to you.
  4. Attend meetings sponsored by PIDS
  5. Participate in PAS and IDWeek programs sponsored by the Society
  6. Read, promote, and submit your best scientific work to the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society
  7. Serve as an enthusiastic role model for undergrads, medical students, and residents as they refine their career choices
  8. Respond to calls for congressional support letters sent by IDSA and the AAP on issues related to PID. Congressional aides tell us these really matter.

With great enthusiasm, I look forward to working with you as, together, we shepherd our specialty and our Society solidly into the future.

Janet R. Gilsdorf, MD, FPIDS
President, Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society