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New Curriculum Stresses Resilience in the Setting of Grief and Loss :

October 12, 2016

One of the hardest situations for a pediatrician to experience is the loss of a child and the grief that ensues with that loss—both to the family and to the care team involved.

One of the hardest situations for a pediatrician to experience is the loss of a child and the grief that ensues with that loss—both to the family and to the care team involved. How do you teach this difficult conversation to trainees (or to even experienced pediatricians) in ways that help the family and at the same time enable us to maintain our own resilience and well-being when faced with loss (which in some subspecialties can be more frequently than any of us would like)?  Fortunately, the AAP recognized this concern and for that reason put together a team of education experts in the field of grief, loss, resilience and personal wellness and combined their efforts into a new curriculum being introduced this week in our journal as a special article. 

Serwint et al. (10.1542/peds.2016-0791) and her colleagues have developed a curriculum through the creation of 14 modules using adult learning theory.  The earlier modules focus extensively on the knowledge and skills needed to have difficult conversations with families in the setting of their grief and loss.  Once these competencies have been learned, the curriculum goes on to offer modules on a pediatric clinician’s personal response to the loss of a patient and how to strengthen one’s resilience and overall wellness in this type of situation so as not to burnout but at the same time be ready to be there for these tragic moments in the life of a child and family you are following.  

This curriculum is an important contribution to the educational lifelong learning of all of us whether you are just starting your pediatric training or have been practicing for decades.  Reading what this curriculum can offer and then availing yourself of it will not make a child’s death any easier—but will enable us to help the family and ourselves find strength in each other through the resilience that is stressed as part of this long overdue and much needed educational contribution.  Read this special article and you’ll see what we mean.

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