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Curriculum aims to help pediatricians cope with grief :

October 18, 2016
As pediatricians help families cope with serious or fatal illnesses, they may find themselves grappling with their own emotions as well.

To prevent such experiences from taking too much of a toll, a group of experts has created a curriculum aimed at helping physicians develop resilience in any stage of their career.

“The goal was to develop a curriculum that addressed the professional attitudes, knowledge and skills needed to thrive despite the many stressors inevitable in clinical care,” authors said in the article “The AAP Resilience in the Face of Grief and Loss Curriculum” (Serwint JR, et al. Pediatrics. Oct. 10, 2016,

Studies have found that 28% to 45% of medical students and 27% to 75% of residents experience burnout, and suicide rates are higher for physicians than other professions.

Based on their own experiences, members of the AAP Section on Medical Students, Residents and Fellowship Trainees, now called the Section on Pediatric Trainees, proposed additional assistance in managing stress. The AAP Section on Hospice and Palliative Medicine joined the effort and brought together experts from around the country to develop relevant curriculum.

The Resilience in the Face of Grief and Loss Curriculum ties into the Milestone Project developed by the Pediatric Residency Review Committee and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medication Education. It consists of four main parts: Understanding Grief and Loss in Children and their Families; Communicating with Families about Severe and Terminal Illness in their Children; Managing Emotions after Challenging Patient Care Experiences; and Introduction to Personal Wellness.

The modules in those areas contain discussion guides, presentation slides, case studies and tools aimed at physicians of all career stages and settings.

Members of relevant AAP committees, sections and councils reviewed the modules, and a newly formed Pediatric Resident Burnout-Resilience Study Consortium will implement and assess the curriculum.

The authors urged adoption of the curriculum as soon as possible “given the critical levels of burnout and depression.”

“We believe that enhancing physicians’ resilience and adaptive skills can help transform times of anxiety and grief into rewarding professional growth experiences,” they said.

Albina Gogo, M.D., FAAP, one of the authors of the curriculum, will focus on the section on personal wellness during a seminar titled “Doctor Heal Thyself: Self-care for the Pediatrician (S4104)” at the AAP National Conference & Exhibition in San Francisco. The session will be held from 4-5:30 p.m. Tuesday in Room 304 of Moscone South.

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