Pediatric Medicine

Pediatrics as a Model for Patient Engagement

Editor’s note: This Encore Presentation focuses on programs in pediatric medicine that provide good models for patient and family engagement throughout medicine. The post concludes with a list of five programs recognized as winners or finalists of the Sherman Award for Excellence in Patient Engagement. Nominations for the 2019 Sherman Award will open next month. Now is the time to begin identifying programs deserving of nomination. For more information about the Sherman Award, click here.

Children often bring out the best in us. If we allow ourselves to meet them on their level, honor them for who they are, and communicate in whatever way – verbal or nonverbal – seems most effective and appropriate, the experience can be magical. That approach to engaging with others, adjusted appropriately for children and adults of all ages, can work wonders for our relationships and experience of the world.

If all parties in healthcare, including patients and families, used that approach, engagement and experience would surely improve.

Patient Experience Journal Features Pediatrics

The most recent issue of the Patient Experience Journal (PXJ), focuses on pediatric medicine and hospitals. Many of the 14 articles explicitly refer to the potential advantages of applying lessons from pediatrics to medicine in general. PXJ is an open-access, digital, peer-reviewed journal published in association with The Beryl Institute.

In an introductory editorial, Jason Wolf, PhD, president of The Beryl Institute, says pediatrics “has been a leader in the experience journey by the very nature of the work.” At its best, pediatric medicine delivers on expectations that apply to all patients and families. Wolf credits a pediatric example for three requests that have universal appeal:

  1. Meet me where I am.
  2. Help me understand.
  3. Provide me comfort and support.

In “What Medicine Can Learn From Pediatrics: A Mother’s Perspective,” Nancy Michaels describes measures taken by a children’s hospital to help her autistic son successfully adjust to the hospital environment. Those measures, which included personal introductions, clear explanations and advance notice that something might hurt, would help most us accept and participate in our own care.

In another article, a team from Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) describes the multi-year development of a program to promote a high reliability culture. The program began with materials and training for more than 17,000 BCH employees in late 2015. The program, including an Error Prevention Toolkit has been adapted for patients and families. The Family Advisory Council at BCH has been integrally involved in the development and implementation of the program.

Pediatrics featured on

The Engaging Patients blog has featured many examples of engagement in pediatrics that can be adapted and applied to other healthcare settings. Please visit the posts listed below as examples of engaging stories in pediatrics.

As seen in the following list, pediatric programs have made a strong showing in the results of the annual Sherman Award for Excellence in Patient Engagement co-sponsored by Taylor Healthcare and the IHI/NPSF Lucian Leape Institute. The first post describes a program for which Dayton Children’s Hospital was honored with the 2018 Sherman Citation for Excellence in Pediatric Patient Engagement. The citation is a new aspect of the Sherman Award program devoted especially to engagement in pediatric medicine.

2018 Sherman Citation for Excellence in Pediatric Patient Engagement:

New Enrollment Process Improves Results of Social Needs Program

2016 Sherman Award winner:

CHOP’s Winning Strategy includes Patient and Family Voices in Total Project Design

2016 Sherman Award winner:

Patient and Family Engagement: An Unwavering Commitment to Partnership

2016 Sherman Award finalist:

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Patient & Family Experience Team

2015 Sherman Award finalist

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Asthma Center of Excellence


Susan Carr Susan Carr is a medical editor and writer specializing in patient safety and engagement. In addition to curating the EngagingPatients blog, she produces publications for the Betsy Lehman Center in Boston and the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine. Susan lives and works in Lunenburg, Massachusetts.

Susan Carr has 185 post(s) at

Check out my: Twitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *