Judy Schaechter, M.D., M.B.A., chair of the Miller School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics, has been named a 2020-21 Health Policy Fellow by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Academy of Medicine.
This prestigious one-year fellowship in Washington, D.C., will enable Dr. Schaechter to expand her longtime involvement in health policy and child policy at the local and state levels to the federal level, and then to bring those strategies back to the University of Miami to enhance educational and community outreach work.
“I’ve always been focused on, even fired up about, issues that change lives for children and families,” Dr. Schaechter said. “Advocacy has been a strong passion and professional interest for me since I started in pediatrics.”
After a three-and-a-half month orientation, each of the six health policy fellows will be assigned to a congressional office, the executive branch, or another federal agency. Work may span across a number of health areas, though dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic could continue to be central to the work of all of this year’s fellows.
Dr. Schaechter, who will be stepping down as chair of pediatrics and chief of service at Holtz Children’s Hospital at UM/Jackson Memorial Medical Center at the end of August, talks about child health as lifespan health. “The health of a child is greatly determined by the parents and grandparents who take care of them; the children, in turn, become parents themselves, setting us on a path for the next generation.
“In Miami, our challenges and strengths require a focus on the social drivers of health care, health disparities, and issues around equity and justice that greatly impact health for people of all ages, including the generations not yet born.”
Dr. Schaechter, who is professor of pediatrics and public health sciences, has been on the faculty of the Miller School of Medicine since 1997. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a medical degree from Stanford University, she did her pediatric internship and residency at Stanford’s Lucille Salter Packard Children’s Hospital. She also holds an M.B.A. in health sector management and policy from UM, and she has received a number of prestigious awards locally and nationally.
“Working at the interface of health and public health and making policy based on the best data we have is a huge need; I hope to learn from the fellowship how others have successfully charted that path,” Dr. Schaechter said. “I am very grateful to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to have been selected, and so excited for the opportunity to be in D.C., to learn new skills and expand my network of collaborators who may help UM and South Florida sustain healthier communities.
“While away this year, I hope to absorb all I can so that I may bring back health policy insights to my incredible UM colleagues who care about our community, never stop giving of themselves, and will continue to do whatever it takes to meet our mission to transform lives."