President's Letter from 2019 Annual Report

This letter was first published in the ABP 2019 Annual Report.
By David G. Nichols, MD, MBA

Dr. Nichols (center) relaxes with his grandchildren.

Dear Colleagues,

I wrote this letter on December 24, when my wife and I were flying to Baltimore to celebrate Christmas with our grandchildren, the youngest of whom had arrived just six months earlier. They remind me of how passionate we pediatricians are about trying to contribute to a healthy future for everyone’s children and grandchildren. The 2019 ABP Annual Report highlights how the ABP volunteers and staff have attempted to do our part.


In 2019, the ABP Board of Directors approved more concise vision and mission statements:

Vision: Inspiring a lifetime pursuit of learning to improve child health

Mission: Advancing child health by certifying pediatricians who meet standards of excellence and are committed to continuous learning and improvement

While the words we use have changed, the ultimate vision and mission of the ABP have remained the same since the Board’s founding in 1933.


The word “learning” now features prominently. One challenge for any certifying board is to assess whether a resident has learned and can apply the competencies needed in a rapidly changing health care landscape. The parents and other public members on our committees regularly report that competencies in communication and managing the health care system are as critical to them as medical knowledge. Therefore, the annual report describes ongoing collaborative research with pediatric training programs to determine if entrustable professional activities (EPAs) provide a more meaningful framework to assess resident performance. EPAs focus on what really matters — the impact of the care on the patient.

The ABP also has prioritized enhancing learning for practicing pediatricians. MOCA-Peds and Question of the Week (QOW) remain popular as online tools to enhance learning. QOW has 25,000 pediatricians registered. Over 78% of MOCA-Peds participants report they have made, or plan to make, a change in their practice because of something they already have learned through MOCA-Peds. Three recently published articles provide the data on MOCA-Peds outcomes.


Given population health statistics, it is likely that every extended family has been touched in some way by the behavioral and mental health (BMH) crisis affecting America’s children and their families. Together with several other pediatric organizations and the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, the ABP has been working to improve training and care in BMH. The problem is complex, as described in the report and various articles published by ABP volunteers. The families of children with complex chronic conditions have special BMH needs. The Roadmap Project ( was the brainchild of these families. The project has now expanded to a full-fledged national learning collaborative.

Please help us keep improving certification as you keep improving your practice. We welcome your feedback. Consider volunteering to write exam and MOCA-Peds questions. Share your practice improvement projects with others.

I suspect everyone’s children and grandchildren are counting on all of us.


David G. Nichols, MD, MBA
President and CEO

Read the 2019 ABP Annual Report (PDF).

About the Author

David G. Nichols, MD, MBA

David G. Nichols, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP). As leader of the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) staff and a member of the nonprofit organization's Board of Directors, Dr. Nichols actively promotes high-quality health care for children by upholding the standards of certification in pediatrics and by encouraging and facilitating initiatives in quality improvement. Although he assumed his new leadership role in late 2012, he has been associated with the ABP for more than 20 years. He is board certified in General Pediatrics and is board certified and maintaining certification in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine.