Graduate Joins Unique Interprofessional Program in Pediatric Palliative Care

September 29, 2020 @ 8:08 pm

Eleanor Frechette (MSW’20) has started a fellowship at Boston’s Children Hospital dedicated to caring for children with advanced illnesses.

In the midst of the pandemic, Eleanor Frechette, a student in our Advanced Standing program, received some good news from the pediatric palliative care service at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. She had been awarded a Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Interprofessional Palliative Care Fellowship and, upon graduation in May, could look forward to joining their Pediatric Advanced Care Team (PACT). Through a family-centered approach, PACT supports the treatment of children with serious medical conditions, helping to improve symptoms and quality of life. It includes physicians, nurse practitioners and social workers and works closely with chaplains, communication specialists, psychologists, child life specialists, and other healthcare professionals.

Since moving to Boston, Frechette has been training alongside three other fellows—two physicians and one nurse practitioner. Although initial training took place online due to COVID-19, the team is now working in person at the hospital, with morning rounds and didactic lessons taking place via Zoom. 

Asked about what it has been like to move to a new city and begin a new job during these challenging times, she said, “I’ve been doing my best to explore the outdoor areas of the city and have enjoyed spending time on the Charles River and attending socially distanced picnics. For self-care, it’s been important that I establish a routine early on and be gentle with myself during this adjustment period. The first month of this fellowship has already been life-changing, and I can only be excited looking towards the rest of the year.”

Frechette credits both the School and her practicum placement for helping her decide to pursue a profession working with terminally ill children and their families. 

“My time at CSSW solidified my passion for this population, particularly through my practicum placement at Metropolitan Jewish Health Services, which is a hospice and palliative care organization,” she said. “I am also incredibly grateful to my professors, who have challenged me on what it means to be an effective, empathic, and dedicated social worker.”

Boston Children’s Hospital, considered by some to be the top pediatric hospital in the United States, is the leading recipient of NIH pediatric research funding and the primary pediatric teaching hospital for Harvard Medical School.

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