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Palliative care to become a pediatric subspecialty

The American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) has voted to join six other specialty boards in cosponsoring an application to make hospice and palliative medicine a subspecialty under the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). The move puts the application on track for approval by the ABMS in September. Subspecialty certification has the potential to boost the number of pediatricians knowledgeable about hospice and palliative medicine by removing reimbursement problems and encouraging pediatric research.

"There is a need for this expertise in the care of children," says James A. Stockman III, MD, president of the ABP (and member of the editorial board of Contemporary Pediatrics). "Certification will add greater visibility to the field [and give pediatricians] a seat at the table in the evolution of standards related to the certification process."

An informal survey by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine identified some 180 pediatricians with an active interest in taking the subspecialty exam. An estimated 400,000 children in the US suffer from a life-threatening condition, but few receive palliative care. The new subspecialty might improve that situation.