By Howard S. King, MD, MPH
A group of colleagues and I have received a grant to train pediatricians and nurse practitioners to improve their skills in doing psychosocial assessment for children and families. They have a one-year period of training. Evaluation is a key component. Not only do we assess the professionals’ knowledge at the beginning and the end of the year of training. We also assess parents’ attitudes regarding how increasingly caring and empathic the professionals have become by the end of the year. A control group of pediatricians is used for comparison.
For pediatricians to be successful, we believe they need to be willing to invite parents to return for at least one long (45 to 60 minute) visit during the child’s growth and development, not only to make use of the parent as “storyteller” but also as the pediatrician’s teacher. In addition, we believe pediatricians need to examine their own attitudes when they interview parents regarding many issues including a history of the parent’s early development and any history of family secrets. Nurturing trust in the pediatric-parent relationship is also vital to our success.
We decided to seek the peer review of a national organization of parent educators to evaluate our goal of attempting to change the competence of health professionals. Could pediatricians become allies of parent educators in improving the emotional development of children by reaching out to parents in this way? That organization is NPEN.
What is NPEN? NPEN is the National Parenting Education Network. NPEN is a group of parenting education professionals, researchers, program administrators, and others striving to build the field of parenting education by networking and making connections to move the field forward.
NPEN is composed of practitioners who provide parenting education as a primary part of their work. It is bound together by commonly accepted principles, notably the principles of embeddedness and inclusivity. NPEN takes the position that one goal of parenting education is to provide access to parenting education resources for all parents. It also recognizes that parenting education is embedded in a large number of organizations and fields, all of which are important in addressing NPEN’s goals.
Several NPEN members were kind enough to comment on our project. Read on for their commentary and observations.
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I would like to thank the following for their generous support, without whom this web site and training program would not exist: The Sidney R. Baer, Jr. Foundation, The Alden Trust, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, Project INTERFACE (Newton Public Schools and the U.S. Department of Education), the Locke Educational Fund at Newton- Wellesley Hospital, Aetna Health Plan, the Kenneth B. Schwartz Center, and the families of my medical practice.
I hope you find this site useful and encourage any comments.
- Dr. Howard King, M.D.