educators, like clinicians, must be held accountable for the kind of patient care they honor, as evidenced in the curricula, requirements, and experiences they provide for health professionals in training.
No single educational strategy or format will be sufficient to prepare professionals for the intellectual, emotional, cultural, and practical challenges of providing palliative, end-of-life, and bereavement care to children and their families. Likewise, varied incentives will be needed to reinforce educational initiatives including residency program requirements and inclusion of questions in licensure and certification examinations.
Recommendation: To provide instruction and experiences appropriate for all health care professionals who care for children, experts in general and specialty fields of pediatric health care and education should collaborate with experts in adult and pediatric palliative care and education to develop and implement
model curricula that provide a basic foundation of knowledge about palliative, end-of-life, and bereavement care that is appropriate for undergraduate health professions education in areas including but not limited to medicine, nursing, social work, psychology, and pastoral care;
residency program requirements that provide more extensive preparation as appropriate for each category of pediatric specialists and subspecialists who care for children with life-threatening medical conditions;
pediatric palliative care fellowships and similar training opportunities;
introductory and advanced continuing education programs and requirements for both generalist and specialist pediatric professionals; and
practical, fundable strategies to evaluate selected techniques or tools for educating health professionals in palliative, end-of-life, and bereavement care.
The committee believes that these strategies for health professions education, if implemented and sustained, will be broadly beneficial. That is, they should reduce the suffering experienced by children who survive as well as children who die, and they should improve the support provided to all families who confront a child’s serious medical problem or death. To confirm this expectation and refine strategies, educational programs and tools will require evaluation to determine whether they are changing knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors, ideally over the longer term as well as in the short term.