Tamela Milan-Alexander recovered from opioid addiction, regained custody of her six children, moved out of public housing, earned not only a bachelor’s degree, but also a master’s, and became a parent advocate, peer educator, developmental screener, community health worker, and case manager.
The changes all started, she says, because of the relationship she and her youngest child’s pediatrician were able to build. Presenting the 2018 Stockman Lecture in November at the American Academy of Pediatrics’ National Conference and Exhibition, she told pediatricians to have the same faith in the families of their own patients as her pediatrician had in her.
“So many people had seen my patient history and instantly judged me,” she says. “He saw in me something I had yet to see in myself. When I said I couldn’t, he said I could.”
Her daughter’s pediatrician guided her toward resources that would help her overcome her addiction and get other help she needed.
“I reflect what is possible, what can be achieved if we work together by meeting people where they are and giving them the opportunity to let you know where they want to go. That way you can create an impact on those you serve in a much more profound way,” she told more than 4,000 pediatricians.
“My prescription for you is this: Get to know your clients. Meet them where they’re at. You may know what’s best, but often, we know better. Allow people to be authentic. And share with them just a piece of yourself. You can have boundaries, but don’t have borders.”
The Stockman Lecture, honoring former ABP President and CEO James A. Stockman III, MD, highlights issues regarding pediatric education and the workforce.