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The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, and the New York Life Foundation, initiated and implemented a Pediatric Bereavement Lectureship program in 2012-2013 to offer training to pediatricians and other pediatric health care providers to increase their skills and effectiveness in supporting grieving children and their families. Through a call for applications and review process, 6 programs were provided with support to convene a 2-day lectureship and educational program and consultation. These opportunities included activities such as: grand rounds, lectures, customized consultation, community outreach, and follow-up programs. Approved programs were also provided with complimentary materials and follow-up consultation.

Program Goals

  • Increase bereavement training for pediatricians and other health care providers and enhance their skills to support grieving children and families.
  • Provide consultation on implementing and/or enhancing bereavement services to children and their families in the hospital/department and community.
  • Promote community partnerships to enhance bereavement support services.
  • Identify and train pediatric leaders with the potential to train and support others to create a more robust cadre of pediatric experts in this topic area.

Lectureship Programs Completed

Each visiting lectureship was different, and included a range of small and large group educational sessions, community presentations, individual and small group discussions and consultations, meetings with trainees and faculty at different levels, and networking meetings to expand pediatric bereavement services in the community (including pediatric bereavement centers, community providers, clinicians, faith-based organizations, and others). Some programs included or led to radio and television interviews. Some programs led to new initiatives as listed below:

Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA (March 7-8, 2013)

  • As a result of this lectureship, a memorial service for residents, faculty, and families of children who had passed away at the Boston University School of Medicine was held. More than 50 faculty members, residents, and family members attended. The service was organized by a Chief Resident at the Medical Center and was very well received; they hope to hold a similar event in the future.

Comer Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago, IL (April 10-11 2013)

  • This lectureship series jumpstarted many formal and informal conversations on how the Comer Children’s Hospital and the community can address pediatric bereavement, and as a result leaders have identified several areas of potential improvement and collaboration. One of the needs identified was to create and evaluate systems of support for the house staff in cases of bereavement. This lectureship helped to re-focus and re-brand an existing lecture series to create "Humanity Rounds", a bi-monthly, multi-disciplinary lecture series that examines and discusses the emotional challenges of delivering healthcare. Additionally, the residents of Comer Children’s Hospital are participating in a newly designed Integrative Medicine curriculum. With the development and implementation of this series the presenters specifically examine how house staff can utilize the skills of integrative medicine self-care in the emotionally-challenging times following a pediatric death. The lectureship also led to the planning of a “Day of Remembrance” for all the children who died in the past year.  In addition, the presentation for Chicago Public Schools provided an opportunity to increase discussion about the immense challenges that students and faculty face on a regular basis.

Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health, Indianapolis, IN (April 22-24, 2013)

  • This lectureship had a clear and significant impact on direct participants in that it led to new collaborations, program improvements, scheduling of future talks, and changes in individual practice related to education, social work, and pediatrics. In addition, participants achieved a better understanding of academic and career opportunities in the field of bereavement.

Iowa Chapter of the AAP, Iowa City, IA (September 9-10, 2013)

  • The University of Iowa is hosting an international program on Child Protection: A Global Responsibility Program on March 26-28, 2014, organized by the Director of the University of Iowa Child Protection Program. As a result of the Director’s attendance at the lectureship conference and one-on-one time for consultation, this work will influence the content of the conference.

Miami Children’s Hospital, Miami, FL (September 19-20, 2013)

  • The Miami Children’s Hospital had just hired prior to the event a new employee to work in the division of Social Work. This staff person will be the hospital’s bereavement coordinator and work on starting a childhood bereavement program at the hospital. Miami has a very well established Children’s Bereavement Center and it was great opportunity for the new staff member to meet the community partners and get questions answered.

Children of Alabama/University of Alabama at Birmingham, AL (September 25-28, 2013)

  • As a result of the lectureship, a “Bereavement Task Force” will meet to reflect on the lessons learned and to brainstorm ways to continue to coordinate bereavement care across the health system. Program leaders will also be sending out a knowledge/attitude survey to a select group that attended the conference after three months to look at retention and change in overall comfort with pediatric bereavement topics.
  • This program’s Grand Rounds presentation “Supporting the Grieving Child and Family” was archived and can be viewed online.

For more information, contact the American Academy of Pediatrics at 847/434-7125 or e-mail DisasterReady@aap.org.   

Resources

A Child in Grief (New York Life Foundation)

After a Loved One Dies - How Children Grieve, and How Parents and Other Adults Can Support Them  | Spanish translation (National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement and the New York Life Foundation)

National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement (NCSCB) Web Site

Promoting Adjustment and Helping Children Cope (AAP)

The Pediatrician and Childhood Bereavement (AAP policy)

Supporting the Family After the Death of a Child (AAP)

AAP Section on Hospice and Palliative Medicine

The AAP Pediatric Bereavement Lectureship Program was sponsored in part by an educational grant from the New York Life Foundation, and is administered with support from the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement and St. Christopher's Foundation for Children.

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