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A Novel Mental Health Curriculum Pilot for Pediatric Cardiology Fellows: Preparing the Subspecialist to Expand the Team.

Mental health (MH) is an important, yet understudied area of care for patients with congenital heart disease (CHD). Pediatric subspecialty fellows believe MH should be within their scope of practice, but few feel confident in their ability to appropriately screen, evaluate, manage, and make treatment referrals for youth with CHD and concurrent MH concerns. A 6-session, didactic-based curriculum was designed by an interprofessional team of experts. It was administered to pediatric cardiology fellows over 9 months during two academic years. Topics included the following: Introduction to MH and CHD, MH Screening and Clinic-Based Interventions, Psychopharmacology, Delirium, Trauma-Informed Care, and Adult CHD and Transitional Care. An investigator-designed survey was developed to assess fellow comfort with MH knowledge, screening, and treatment recommendation domains. Twenty-three fellows participated with 14 completing the pre-post survey (58% participation, 11/17 in year 1, 3/6 in year 2). Most participants were in their first year of training (9/14, 57%). Overall, fellow comfort with MH topics increased significantly (mean score 2.89 ± 0.46 vs. 3.4 ± 0.4, p = 0.0005), with improved comfort in the MH knowledge (p = 0.003) and treatment recommendation domains (p = 0.001). A didactic-based MH curriculum improves the comfort of pediatric cardiology fellows to address the MH concerns of their patients. The topics in this curriculum will continue to be refined over time and could be generalized to training programs, both nationally and across pediatric specialties, to improve MH care for high-risk populations.

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