Whether leading change or leading the charge, preparation is key to reaching full potential. Nemours’ pursuit of better health for every child ranges from the importance of education to a child’s future health status to the opportunity to educate those who impact children’s health. Critical to progress is the desire to never stop learning and the willingness to share knowledge gained to ensure equitable success for all children.
Help me grow up healthy
Formalized programs throughout Nemours focus on continuing education to benefit better child health outcomes. This transfer of knowledge occurs within the walls of Nemours locations and beyond to early child care professionals, educators, coaches, community and emergency providers and more — any and all who aspire to help children grow up healthy.
Getting sick shouldn’t mean being left behind
What began as a research project to study how children with complex medical issues learn math resulted in PedsAcademy at Nemours Children’s Hospital (NCH) — the world’s first hospital-based “precision education” curriculum.
Through a partnership between Nemours and the University of Central Florida (UCF), faculty and students facilitate research-supported educational practices that are personalized for specific diseases and conditions. Technologies such as robotics and virtual reality along with other creative approaches to STEM learning are provided to NCH patients by a team of 54 UCF-affiliated students and faculty. The ability-informed curricula are keeping kids engaged and on track academically with their peers. The lessons have also been shown to boost socio-emotional health, engage movement to support disease states and improve cognitive function.
PedsAcademy is not just teaching children, it’s also introducing new methodologies to educators and creating opportunities to conduct important educational research for children with diverse needs. In addition to supporting inpatients, PedsAcademy delivers lessons to children who are at the hospital for hours-long infusions or waiting between multiple appointments. “It became my life’s passion when I realized these children do not receive equitable education. We’ve created a model that’s replicable at all children’s hospitals. We can truly do meaningful educational activities with every child, every day at Nemours,” says Megan Nickels, PhD, faculty director, PedsAcademy.
A powerful triad for health: MD, RD & Chef
Diet plays a critical role in preventing and managing disease. But for most physicians, education about diet is limited to basic nutrition courses in medical school. An interprofessional educational program among the University of Central Florida (UCF) College of Medicine, UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management and Nemours is offering a Culinary Medicine elective that gets medical students on the farm, in the grocery store, behind the stove and out in the community. Didactic modules coupled with instruction from registered dieticians (RDs) and chefs help future physicians develop communication skills around nutrition and healthy eating concepts with their patients, so families can more effectively incorporate this knowledge and skill base into their daily lives.
The eight-week course, based on curriculum developed at the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine at Tulane University, is focused on heart-healthy, sustainable diet options that can be managed on a budget as low as the federal poverty level. In 2018, community and corporate partners the Florida Beef Council, Second Harvest Food Bank, Hebni Nutrition, Rosen Hotels, the Winter Park Health Foundation and Publix supported medical students in efforts to take what they learned and teach more than 150 individuals from at-risk groups. This included outreach to kids and parents at Grace Medical Home, veterans at the Orlando Veterans Administration Hospital, Lake Nona, and adults with diabetes at the AdventHealth Diabetes Institute in Orlando.
The Walwyn Family’s Culinary Medicine Journey
Twyla Walwyn and her three children Kyeda, Kelyse, and Khaleel (ages 15, 12 and 8) participated in the Culinary Medicine Outreach course during February 2019. The family learned kitchen etiquette, cooking techniques and new recipes to help them form healthier habits.
“The class covered everything from how to properly hold the knife for slicing and dicing, different ways of making the same food and how to present it on a plate,” says Twyla. “We enjoyed the lessons and seeing how they put things together. The course offered so many new food possibilities for our family.”
The Walwyns were introduced to the course through the Nemours Healthy Weight Clinic in Orlando. The classes not only inspired them to try different foods at home, but also provided attendees with meal plan cards they could keep to guide them.
Twyla and her children are still using the skills they learned throughout the course. “We use the meal plans cards as shopping lists,” says Tywla. “We stick to the list and don’t buy junk foods. Sodas are rare now. I don’t buy them, and the kids don’t even ask for them anymore. To satisfy our cravings for sweets, we have fruit.”
Twyla says she is grateful for a program that urges doctors to invest more attention to general health through nutrition. “Teaching physicians how to use nutrition as medicine is a great opportunity to give wider access to health,” she notes. “Our family was stuck in our ways. We would have a dinner-size meal instead of a lighter lunch or a snack and then, would end up eating a second dinner-size meal later. We have learned appropriate-sized portions in addition to the new recipes.”
Nemours National Office advocates for funding and spreads and scales promising practices that help to educate those who care for children.
- Partnered with other children’s hospitals across the U.S. to secure a $10 million increase for Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education
- Secured language in signed FY 2019 omnibus appropriations bill to fund new work with the CDC and early childhood education providers
- Worked to spread and scale nationally the Nemours-developed adolescent health literacy curriculum, Navigating the Health Care System; now live in eight states and adapted as a college course
Learning Health System Scholars
For the next two years, two Nemours junior faculty will be dedicated to studying pediatric learning health systems (LHS) research as PEDSnet Scholars. Corrina Schultz, MD, Nemours hematologist/oncologist, and Erica Sood, PhD, Nemours psychologist, were selected as part of the K12 career development grant funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality, the Department of Health & Human Services, and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.
PEDSnet Scholars will learn and use new methods that leverage modern clinical data systems and test interventions in pragmatic, child- and family-centered outcomes research studies.
Dr. Schultz will be extending her current research on patient portal usage among families of children diagnosed with cancer, ultimately, seeking to discover how the portal can better support the family in understanding and coping with disease. Dr. Sood’s research will focus on interventions to prevent post-traumatic stress in parents of children with congenital heart disease, including identifying parent leaders who can be trained as formal peer mentors and paired with parents of newly diagnosed children.
In addition to core LHS curriculum, enrichment seminars, videoconferences and training, Scholars will be supported by a personal mentoring team from the eight PEDSnet institutions.
Learn more about this exciting program for junior faculty.
There is still so much LEARNING to be realized in pediatric health. DIVERSE REPRESENTATION across educational avenues including medical, research, social, policy and more, will be KEY TO ensuring EQUITABLE IMPACT and return on investment for all children.
The pediatric residency program at Nemours Children’s Hospital (NCH) will prepare the next generation of exceptional leaders in pediatric health. After receiving ACGME institutional accreditation, NCH’s first residents are set to begin in July 2019. More than 1,200 students applied and 186 were interviewed for the 12 program openings. One distinguishing factor for the Nemours residency is the requirement of a research project as part of the three-year curriculum. The research mandate encourages residents to reach beyond clinical excellence to actively advance pediatric medicine. “It’s about much more than the residents in the program; it’s really what it means to the future of pediatric health,” says Heather Fagan, MD, Nemours’ designated institute official.