Pediatric anesthesiology fellowship education has necessarily evolved since Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) accreditation in 1997. Advancements in perioperative and surgical practices, emerging roles in leadership, increasing mandates by accreditation and certification bodies, and progression toward competency-based education—among other things—have created pressure to enrich the current pediatric anesthesiology training system. The Society for Pediatric Anesthesia (SPA) formed a Task Force for Pediatric Anesthesiology Graduate Medical Education that included key leaders and subject matter experts from the society. A key element of the Task Force’s charge was to identify curricular and evaluative enhancements for the fellowship program of the future.
The Task Force executed a nationally representative, stakeholder-based Delphi process centered around a fundamental theme: “What makes a pediatric anesthesiologist?” to build consensus among a demographically varied and broad group of anesthesiologists within the pediatric anesthesiology community. A total of 37 demographically and geographically varied pediatric anesthesiologists participated in iterative rounds of open- and close-ended survey work between August 2020 and July 2021 to build consensus on the current state, known deficiencies, anticipated needs, and strategies for enhancing national educational offerings and program requirements.
Participation was robust, and consensus was almost completely achieved by round 2. This work generated a compelling Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis that suggests more strengths and opportunities in the current Pediatric Anesthesiology Graduate Medical Education program than weaknesses or threats. Stakeholders agreed that while fellows matriculate with some clinical knowledge and procedural gaps, a few clinical gaps exist upon graduation. Stakeholders agreed on 8 nonclinical domains and specific fundamental and foundational knowledge or skills that should be taught to all pediatric anesthesiology fellows regardless of career plans. These domains include (1) patient safety, (2) quality improvement, (3) communication skills, (4) supervision skills, (5) leadership, (6) medical education, (7) research basics, and (8) practice management. They also agreed that a new case log system should be created to better reflect modern pediatric anesthesia practice. Stakeholders further identified the need for the development of standardized and validated formative and summative assessment tools as part of a competency-based system. Finally, stakeholders noted that significant departmental, institutional, and national organizational support will be necessary to implement the specific recommendations.
A Delphi process achieved robust consensus in assessing current training and recommending future directions for pediatric anesthesiology graduate medical education.