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Multidisciplinary perspectives on piloting a paediatric palliative social work fellowship

Oral Presentation

October 13th 2022 at 4:00pm

Institution: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center - Ohio, United States



Social workers have long been acknowledged as an essential part of the palliative care team. Yet, there are fewer than 10 palliative social work post-graduate training programs—one specialising in paediatric palliative care—in comparison to over 100 fellowships for physicians in the United States. The palliative care team at an academic acute care paediatric hospital in Midwestern United States piloted a one-year social work fellowship in mid-2021 in an effort to address the ongoing need for specialised paediatric palliative social work training.



1) To develop a robust training program that can produce highly-skilled paediatric palliative social workers; 2) to explore social workers’ and physicians’ perspectives on the challenges and lessons learned that may be helpful for other institutions developing paediatric palliative social work training programs.



Two experienced paediatric palliative social workers developed a one-year fellowship program (6 July 2021-5 July 2022), where the fellow observes and works alongside the social workers as well as other members of the interdisciplinary team. The program includes clinical rotations with social workers and other allied health professionals within different hospital departments, paediatric and adult home hospice organisations, and an adult hospital palliative care team. It also involves regular lectures, research, and clinical supervision.


 Specialised training for social workers is essential to help ensure well-rounded high-quality palliative care for children and families with life-limiting conditions. Managing limited time and resources between multiple fellowship components such as clinical rotations, research, and education was of particular challenge. Exposure to various care settings and collaboration with other health professionals were helpful to promote understanding of the uniquely interdisciplinary role of paediatric palliative social workers. Stronger educational emphasis on the psychosocial aspects of medical care would be useful to strengthen the paediatric palliative social work perspective.


  • Dr Krista Nee

    Paediatric palliative care physician, Assistant Professor of Paediatrics and Anaesthesia, Pediatric Advanced Care Team (PACT) - Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center & StarShine Children’s Hospice

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  • Prita Rifianti

    Paediatric Palliative Social Work Fellow - Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

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