Advocacy is part of every pediatrician’s job, regardless of specialty. Advocacy experiences are a fundamental part of Cincinnati Children’s residency training.

As a medical student and resident, Ndidi Unaka, MD, had a passion for volunteering with people who did not have easy access to healthcare. Now a hospitalist at Cincinnati Children’s, she spends one-third of her time as an associate director with the Residency Training Program, helping residents find similar advocacy opportunities.

Children’s has long had an advocacy rotation for first year residents, explains Unaka. All residents spend two weeks learning about issues such as injury prevention, legislative advocacy and community resources.

But many residents wanted more, so Unaka took on the role of linking them with opportunities for greater involvement.

She works closely with city schools, where residents go to talk with students on topics ranging from bullying to healthy eating. The schools’ teachers determine the topics, geared to issues they may be facing at any given time.

Residents also work with an inner city parents’ group, where at monthly meetings they might be asked to prepare a healthy meal or to deliver a talk on hypertension or breast feeding.

They conduct health screenings at area health fairs and volunteer for other community health-related events.

Unaka says seeing the reality of what people are up against is important to everyone in pediatrics, no matter his or her chosen specialty.

“In some capacity, all residents will be doing some sort of advocacy in their career, no matter if they choose to be a general pediatrician or a specialist,” she says. It’s something every pediatrician needs to be well-versed in.”