Evaluating Hospice and Palliative Medicine Education in Pediatric Training Programs

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Abstract

Background:

Hospice and Palliative Medicine (HPM) competencies are of growing importance in training general pediatricians and pediatric sub-specialists. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) emphasized pediatric trainees should understand the “impact of chronic disease, terminal conditions and death on patients and their families.” Currently, very little is known regarding pediatric trainee education in HPM.

Methods:

We surveyed all 486 ACGME-accredited pediatric training program directors (PDs) - 200 in general pediatrics (GP), 57 in cardiology (CARD), 64 in critical care medicine (CCM), 69 in hematology-oncology (ONC) and 96 in neonatology (NICU). We collected training program’s demographics, PD’s attitudes and educational practices regarding HPM.

Results:

The complete response rate was 30% (148/486). Overall, 45% offer formal HPM curriculum and 39% offer a rotation in HPM for trainees. HPM teaching modalities commonly reported included conferences, consultations and bedside teaching. Eighty-one percent of all respondents felt that HPM curriculum would improve trainees’ ability to care for patients. While most groups felt that a HPM rotation would enhance trainees’ education [GP (96%), CARD (77%), CCM (82%) and ONC (95%)], NICU PDs were more divided (55%; p < 0.05 for all comparisons vs. NICU).

Conclusion:

While most programs report perceived benefit from HPM training, there remains a paucity of opportunities for pediatric trainees. Passive teaching methods are frequently utilized in HPM curricula with minimal diversity in methods utilized to teach HPM. Opportunities to further emphasize HPM in general pediatric and pediatric sub-specialty training remains.

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