The State of Inpatient Child Neurology: A Survey of North American Academic Programs

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Journal Article

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BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Inpatient child neurology programs provide essential services for children. We sought to understand the current structure and challenges of inpatient pediatric neurologic care delivery in academic programs in North America. METHODS: We identified a single child neurologist from 39 of the first 40 programs on the 2019-2020 US News and World Report ranking and 3 large Canadian programs to be invited to participate in an inpatient focused survey. In October 2020, these 42 child neurologists were invited to complete an anonymous on-line survey including 37 questions about the structure, workload, and challenges of their inpatient program. Data was analyzed descriptively. RESULTS: We received responses from 30/42 (71%) invited child neurologists from unique programs. The majority (25/30, 83%) were Child Neurology Program Directors, Inpatient Directors, and/or Division Chiefs. Two-thirds (20/30, 67%) reported a total of 2-4 inpatient services. Two-thirds (20/30, 67%) reported a primary neurology admitting service. Nearly two-thirds (19/30, 63%) reported a separate ICU service, and about one-third (11/30, 37%) reported a separate stroke/vascular service. Half of respondents (15/30, 50%) reported some attendings whose primary clinical effort is in the inpatient setting. Over half (17/30, 57%) reported having trainees interested in inpatient-focused careers. About half (16/30, 53%) reported a full-time equivalent metric for inpatient time, and under half (13/30, 43%) reported use of critical-care billing. Most respondents (26/30, 87%) endorsed that inpatient attendings frequently complete documentation/sign notes outside of normal daytime hours. During night call, attendings commonly spend 30 minutes-2 hours on patient care-related phone calls between 5pm-10pm (24/30, 80%) and receive 1-3 patient care-related phone calls after 10pm (21/30, 70%). Faculty burnout was the biggest inpatient-specific challenge before the COVID-19 pandemic (25/30, 83%), and concern about faculty well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic was reported in nearly all respondents (28/30, 93%). DISCUSSION: Academic child neurology programs in North America implement varied models for inpatient care delivery and face common challenges. The information presented in this study serves to stimulate discussion, help optimize operations, and encourage novel approaches to accomplish work and advance careers in academic inpatient child neurology.