Background: Rural pediatricians and adult-trained hospice teams report feeling ill-prepared to care for children at end of life, resulting in geographies in which children are not able to access home-based services. Objectives: To develop a pediatric palliative care curriculum for inpatient nurses and adult-trained hospice teams caring for children in a rural region. Methods: Curriculum design and delivery was informed by local culture through an interdisciplinary, iterative development approach with confidence, intention, and support measured pre-, post-, and 4 months after delivery. A needs assessment was completed by pediatric nurses caring for children receiving palliative or end-of-life care to inform curricular content (phase 1). A curriculum was designed by an interdisciplinary pediatric palliative care team and piloted with nursing cohorts annually through educational conferences with monthly discussion series for 3 consecutive years (phase 2). Curricular content was then provided for 31 rural hospice team members (phase 3). Results: Self-reported confidence in caring for children increased by 1.1/10 points for adult-trained hospice team members. Mean score for intention to care for children increased by 5.2 points (sustained 5.1 points above baseline at 4 months). Perception of support in caring for children increased by 5 points (mean sustained 5.4 points above baseline at 4 months). Family needs, care goals, and symptom management were prioritized learning topics. Rural hospices previously unwilling to accept children enrolled pediatric patients in the 4 months following the conference. Conclusion: Grassroots curricular initiatives and ongoing educational mentorship can grow pediatric palliative and hospice services in rural regions.
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