New evidence reinforces the case that a largely white medical establishment is failing children of color. What can we do?

Adorable baby sticking out his tongue
Adorable baby sticking out his tongue
Photo by Chayene Rafaela on Unsplash

I remember asking my father why, after a youth of privilege and an Ivy League education, he set up his pediatric practice across the street from Memphis’s largest public housing project. While he complained nightly about unpaid bills and Medicaid, pediatricians without his blue-chip credentials were sitting in their wood-paneled offices “out east” enjoying the benefits of private insurance payments and ducking the issues that poverty and structural racism piled into Dad’s office daily.

A handful of prominent Memphians sought him out, from rock stars to politicians to industrialists, but they understood that they and their children would be waiting…

The words matter, and these words are problematic

Photo by Vlad Sargu on Unsplash

Our President has repeatedly told reporters over the last week about his performance on a cognitive test normally given when doctors suspect dementia or another form of cognitive dysfunction. As a pediatrician, I rarely use this particular test, the Montreal Cognitive Assessment. But I frequently administer the SCAT-3, a test for concussions, which operates on the same principles.

A common feature of these instruments evaluates memory: both immediate and middle-term recall. Pathways from the auditory nerve through Wernicke’s area (the part of the brain that interprets speech) through the hippocampus take the sounds we hear and deposit them in memory…

Online marketing to children is everywhere. The American Academy of Pediatrics has new advice on how parents can fight back

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Only once in our years living at the beach did I have to rescue one of my children from a rip current. We were paddling just beyond the toe-touch level, and suddenly my son started drifting away from me, fast. I grabbed his wrist hard and started working my way parallel to the shore until both of us could plant our feet on the bottom, panting with effort and relief. Rips are far too powerful to swim against; your best shot is to see them ahead of time and stay out. …

What is the American Academy of Pediatrics thinking?

Empty school desks and posters
Empty school desks and posters
Photo by Feliphe Schiarolli on Unsplash

I have to admit that as a front-line pediatrician caring for hospitalized COVID-infected children, I was caught off guard by the American Academy of Pediatrics’s release last week of a guidance document stating, “the AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.” (Full disclosure: while I hold a leadership position in the AAP, I was not involved in crafting this policy, and I am not speaking for the AAP here, only for myself.)

The recommendation flew in the face of my instincts regarding COVID…

Does a thermometer at the door mean you’re safe inside?

Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

In mid-March, when COVID-19 concerns drove North Carolina into stay-at-home status, the hospital where I work posted two medical assistants at each entrance. Before any of us could pass, we had to submit to a temporal artery thermal scan, deny that we had a cough, and don a mask. We were not alone: businesses like stores and daycare centers started screening everyone similarly in an effort to assure patrons that they were safe.

Then, last week a local daycare was forced to shut down after exposing multiple children, parents, and staff members to COVID-19, including two of my friend’s children…

My World’s Best Dad mug was going to reflect a measurable reality.

A father holding a young girl on a dock
A father holding a young girl on a dock
Photo by Caleb Jones on Unsplash

Don’t worry, honey, Mommy and Daddy are never getting divorced. That’s how we reassured our 3 children repeatedly when they asked about friends whose parents were no longer living together. We had both lived through our parents’ divorce, and we were determined not to put our kids through what we had endured.

CUT TO: I’m on the couch in our marriage counselor’s office. Except I guess now he’s just my counselor, because there’s no longer a marriage. I’m indulging in a small pity party: I’m a pediatrician. My…

Doctors like to complain about the erosion of our autonomy and independence, but having a medical license still comes with plenty of perks. Some are obvious like, say, the means to diagnose and treat diseases. Others are of questionable value: the obligation to respond to a medical emergency on board a cross-country flight. Some are alluring myths, such as getting out of a speeding ticket by insisting you’re heading to a medical emergency (hasn’t worked for me yet).

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

In these times, however, the privilege I appreciate most is timely access to information. A still-novel and still-lethal virus is tearing its…

David Hill

Dr. David Hill is a pediatrician, author, editor, speaker, and podcaster who lives in Wilmington, NC with his wife and 5 children. More at

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