Hearst Foundation funds pilot program to help train and expand pediatric palliative care education in real-world setting; address shortage of nurses 


November 17, 2022–George Mark Children’s House (GMCH), the first pediatric palliative care facility in the United States, is implementing a first-of-its-kind pilot program in partnership with CSU Shiley Haynes Institute for Palliative Care (Institute) offering specialized training for GMCH pediatric palliative care nurses. The program is funded, in part, through a $150,000 grant from the Hearst Foundation.

The GMCH Pediatric Palliative Care Nursing Education, Training, and Employment Initiative includes a dedicated team focused on nursing recruitment, hands-on training for new and existing nursing staff at GMCH and continuing education through the Institute’s pediatric palliative care online curriculum and certification program.

According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, more than three million children in the United States would benefit from pediatric palliative care and hospice each year. Yet, the national nursing shortage is especially acute for children with severe and life-limiting conditions. Common barriers to serving seriously ill children and families include a lack of ongoing education and training efforts and overall awareness of the field.

“Our organization, like the rest of the country, is faced with a critical shortage of nurses,” said Shekinah Eliassen, Chief Executive Officer, George Mark Children’s House. “The CSU Shiley Haynes Institute partnership is an exciting and important investment in the nursing workforce. Together, we will work to ensure more children and families within our organization and beyond can receive the quality care they need and deserve.”

“We’re thrilled to partner with George Mark Children’s House, the center of excellence in pediatric palliative care, to combine our coursework with practical experience for a truly immersive education,” said Brandon McDonald, Business Development Manager, CSU Shiley Haynes Institute for Palliative Care. “This initiative meets a pressing need to raise the profile of pediatric palliative care and grow and equip the next generation of the nursing workforce.”

The GMCH Pediatric Palliative Care Nursing Education, Training, and Employment Initiative, will institute a number of approaches to address both recruitment and training:

On-site Trainer: GMCH has hired a dedicated Pediatric Palliative Care Certified Registered Nurse to train recent nursing school graduates, in GMCH’s unique model of care and conduct ongoing skills training for the nursing team. This staff member will also provide regular tours and orientation to California clinicians to raise the profile of pediatric palliative care and educate others about GMCH’s unique model.

Recruitment & Outreach: As part of the initiative, GMCH has developed a recruiting program to attract newly graduated Registered Nurses. The organization has created new employment opportunities, with increased nursing salaries as well as offering staff wellness and benefit packages to stave off burnout and turnover. For a list of current clinical opportunities, visit https://georgemark.org/join-our-team/.  

Online Coursework and Certification: GMCH will also offer the CSU well-regarded curriculum to its new and existing nursing staff, comprising 66 continuing education hours in courses from Basic to Advanced across these topic areas: Introduction to Pediatric Palliative Care; Communication Skills for Pediatric Patients and Family Support; Pediatric Pain and Symptom Assessment and Management; Concepts in Easing Suffering and Promoting Healing in Pediatric Patients; Pediatric Care Delivery; Pediatric Team Support; and Pediatric Ethical Principles and Challenges. GMCH has created a Clinical Teaching Toolkit that will assist George Mark Children’s House in- house education staff with reinforcing concepts and skills training in the clinical setting.

About George Mark Children’s House 
George Mark Children’s House (GMCH) located in San Leandro, provides life affirming care for children with illnesses that modern health care cannot yet cure, or for those who have complex medical conditions. Services, including respite care, transitional care, end of life care, and bereavement support are all offered at no charge to medically eligible children and their families. George Mark is the first freestanding pediatric palliative care house in the United States and has served more than 1,000 children since opening 18 years ago. George Mark Children’s House serves as a model for other pediatric palliative care centers, having been recognized for its excellence in providing all-encompassing care when a family’s need is at its greatest. While the hallmark of care at George Mark is that families never see a bill, it is also the organization’s challenge to raise funds through private donations and foundation grants to provide services. For more information on George Mark Children’s House visit www.georgemark.org or view Dr. Kathy Hull’s TED Talk with more than one million views at www.tinyurl.com/kathyhull.