Perhaps the issue I intend to raise is an old one with which many have grappled previously—successfully or not. Yet, in my discussions with other chairpersons, I have not been impressed that parents' involvement with house staff and medical student education and their performance of an advisory role in pediatric department functioning have been important in establishing departmental educational and/or patient care goals. Our recent experience with the establishment of a parent advisory group to the Department of Pediatrics at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, has convinced me that we, as providers of care for children with complex, chronic medical conditions, have much to learn from the input we can obtain from supportive, concerned parents of children who use our facilities on a regular basis.
Under the stimulus of our pediatric social worker and one of our faculty members, we solicited interest in forming such a group by contacting a number of parents of children who are regular users of our health care system. The response was enthusiastic. A steering committee was established to investigate the interest and need to form such a group on a permanent basis. Over the past year, this steering committee enlisted the support of parents from all ethnic and socioeconomic spheres and all corners of our geographically large, but population-sparse, state to formally institute a parent advisory board to our department. They drew up bylaws, garnered the support of our hospital administration,