New Curriculum Stresses Resilience in the Setting of Grief and Loss
DrLewisFirst, MD,MA, Editor-in-Chief, Pediatrics
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.