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Limited data exist on how trainees in paediatric cardiology are assessed among countries affiliated with the Association of European Paediatric and Congenital Cardiology.
A structured and approved questionnaire was circulated to educationalists/trainers in 95 Association for European Paediatric and Congenital Cardiology training centres.
Trainers from 46 centres responded with complete data in 41 centres. Instructional design included bedside teaching (41/41), didactic teaching (38/41), problem-based learning (28/41), cardiac catheterisation calculations (34/41), journal club (31/41), fellows presenting in the multidisciplinary meeting (41/41), fellows reporting on echocardiograms (34/41), clinical simulation (17/41), echocardiography simulation (10/41), and catheterisation simulation (3/41). Assessment included case-based discussion (n = 27), mini-clinical evaluation exercise (mini-CEX) (n = 12), directly observed procedures (n = 12), oral examination (n = 16), long cases (n = 11), written essay questions (n = 6), multiple choice questions (n = 5), and objective structured clinical examination (n = 2). Entrustable professional activities were utilised in 10 (24%) centres. Feedback was summative only in 17/41 (41%) centres, formative only in 12/41 (29%) centres and a combination of formative and summative feedback in 10/41 (24%) centres. Written feedback was provided in 10/41 (24%) centres. Verbal feedback was most common in 37/41 (90 %) centres.
There is a marked variation in instructional design and assessment across European paediatric cardiac centres. A wide mix of assessment tools are used. Feedback is provided by the majority of centres, mostly verbal summative feedback. Adopting a programmatic assessment focusing on competency/capability using multiple assessment tools with regular formative multisource feedback may promote assessment for learning of paediatric cardiology trainees.
Decision-making in congenital cardiac care, although sometimes appearing simple, may prove challenging due to lack of data, uncertainty about outcomes, underlying heuristics, and potential biases in how we reach decisions. We report on the decision-making complexities and uncertainty in management of five commonly encountered congenital cardiac problems: indications for and timing of treatment of subaortic stenosis, closure or observation of small ventricular septal defects, management of new-onset aortic regurgitation in ventricular septal defect, management of anomalous aortic origin of a coronary artery in an asymptomatic patient, and indications for operating on a single anomalously draining pulmonary vein. The strategy underpinning each lesion and the indications for and against intervention are outlined. Areas of uncertainty are clearly delineated. Even in the presence of “simple” congenital cardiac lesions, uncertainty exists in decision-making. Awareness and acceptance of uncertainty is first required to facilitate efforts at mitigation. Strategies to circumvent uncertainty in these scenarios include greater availability of evidence-based medicine, larger datasets, standardised clinical assessment and management protocols, and potentially the incorporation of artificial intelligence into the decision-making process.
We present a case of possible vertical COVID-19 transmission-related paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome in a neonate with CHD. Myocarditis and supraventricular tachycardia along with hepatic injury and renal failure were diagnosed on a background of mild aortic valve stenosis; the patient was successfully treated with immunomodulation. Since paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome can affect the heart, we could consider neonates with haemodynamically insignificant CHD to be at a higher risk of fatal outcomes. Issues related to early diagnosis and management need to be addressed.
Limited data exist on training of European paediatric and adult congenital cardiologists.
A structured and approved questionnaire was circulated to national delegates of Association for European Paediatric and Congenital Cardiology in 33 European countries.
Delegates from 30 countries (91%) responded. Paediatric cardiology was not recognised as a distinct speciality by the respective ministry of Health in seven countries (23%). Twenty countries (67%) have formally accredited paediatric cardiology training programmes, seven (23%) have substantial informal (not accredited or certified) training, and three (10%) have very limited or no programme. Twenty-two countries have a curriculum. Twelve countries have a national training director. There was one paediatric cardiology centre per 2.66 million population (range 0.87–9.64 million), one cardiac surgical centre per 4.73 million population (range 1.63–10.72 million), and one training centre per 4.29 million population (range 1.63–10.72 million population). The median number of paediatric cardiology fellows per training programme was 4 (range 1–17), and duration of training was 3 years (range 2–5 years). An exit examination in paediatric cardiology was conducted in 16 countries (53%) and certification provided by 20 countries (67%). Paediatric cardiologist number is affected by gross domestic product (R2 = 0.41).
Training varies markedly across European countries. Although formal fellowship programmes exist in many countries, several countries have informal training or no training. Only a minority of countries provide both exit examination and certification. Harmonisation of training and standardisation of exit examination and certification could reduce variation in training thereby promoting high-quality care by European congenital cardiologists.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge influence in almost all areas of life, affecting societies, economics, and health care systems worldwide. The paediatric cardiology community is no exception. As the challenging battle with COVID-19 continues, professionals from the Association for the European Paediatric and Congenital Cardiology receive many questions regarding COVID-19 in a Paediatric and Congenital Cardiology setting. The aim of this paper is to present the AEPC position on frequently asked questions based on the most recent scientific data, as well as to frame a discussion on how to take care of our patients during this unprecedented crisis. As the times are changing quickly and information regarding COVID-19 is very dynamic, continuous collection of evidence will help guide constructive decision-making.
The recommendations of the Association for European Paediatric and Congenital Cardiology for basic training in paediatric and congenital cardiology required to be recognised as a paediatric cardiologist by the Association for European Paediatric and Congenital Cardiology are described below. Those wishing to achieve more advanced training in particular areas of paediatric cardiology should consult the training recommendations of the different Association for European Paediatric and Congenital Cardiology Working Groups available on the Association for European Paediatric and Congenital Cardiology website (www.aepc.org) and the respective publications 1–6. The development of training requirements is the responsibility of the Educational Committee and the Association for European Paediatric and Congenital Cardiology Council in collaboration with the Working Groups of the Association for European Paediatric and Congenital Cardiology. Trainees should be exposed to all aspects of general paediatric and congenital cardiology from fetal life to adolescence and adulthood. Centres performing generalised and specialised work in paediatric and congenital cardiology should be committed to deliver postgraduate training. At each training institute, trainers should be appointed to supervise and act as mentors to the trainees. Association for European Paediatric and Congenital Cardiology will provide basic teaching courses to supplement the training process.
Online learning has become an increasingly expected and popular component for education of the modern-day adult learner, including the medical provider. In light of the recent coronavirus pandemic, there has never been more urgency to establish opportunities for supplemental online learning. Heart University aims to be “the go-to online resource” for e-learning in CHD and paediatric-acquired heart disease. It is a carefully curated open access library of paedagogical material for all providers of care to children and adults with CHD or children with acquired heart disease, whether a trainee or a practising provider. In this manuscript, we review the aims, development, current offerings and standing, and future goals of Heart University.
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