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Prep Program

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A training program designed to enhance the skill set of medical health professionals in surgical centers and procedural suites by providing the tools for patient-facing staff to feel confident and competent in supporting pediatric populations.

Pediatric anxiety and distress are common occurrence across medical procedures and can have longterm negative effects on a child's mental and physical health. 

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Be an organization that is fully committed to doing the
best for your pediatric patients

Read the research and evidence

Meet The Program Experts


Lisa Ciarrocca
Certified Child Life Specialist

Lisa A. Ciarrocca has been a child life specialist for over 30 years, working at many levels in and out of the healthcare arena. As the Child Life Manager at The Goryeb Children’s Hospital, she was responsible for the development and leadership of a system-wide child life program. Lisa's clinical experience includes oncology, surgery, chronic illness, grief, siblings, and children of adult patients. Lisa was the 2022 recipient of the Mary Barkey Award for Clinical Excellence. Her experience working in and out of the healthcare setting enabled her to think outside of the box—expanding her child life role into the community and opening her own child life private practice, The Next Step: Partners in Psychosocial Care LLC nine years ago.

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Suzan Watkinson
Certified Child Life Specialist

Suzan J. Watkinson, M.A., CCLS, CPMT, RWWP has over 30 years of experience. Suzan's expertise spans pediatric palliative care, grief support, oncology, radiology, trauma, and emergency medicine. She has contributed to innovative child life programming and mentorship, advocating for expansion of child life services. Beyond local borders, Suzan's commitment extends to global initiatives, participating in Child Life Disaster Relief efforts and serving as a Psychosocial Care Provider for Operation Smile, supporting children during facial surgery missions internationally.​ Suzan is also an Adjunct Professor at Azusa Pacific University, guiding Child Life graduate students and overseeing the Academic Child Life Internship program.

Eileen has been a pediatric nurse for over 30 years, first in the Neonatal ICU at a major children’s hospital. The NICU is where she developed a concern for the pain tiny babies had to experience trying to get better and go home. She then studied extensively to improve the care of babies in pain. After leaving the NICU, she was in a role of Pain Management Coordinator where she provided training and policy support for all staff. She attended the Pediatric Pain Master class in 2013, and implemented many non-pharmacological pain techniques into the policies and procedures at her facility. She continues her work as a PACU nurse, managing the post-operative pain in kids having surgery.

Eileen Murray


What does PSPP include? 

The Pediatric Surgical Prep Program (PSPP) was created by Hearts Connected from a passion to minimize the emotional and physiological trauma that pediatric patients can experience during a surgery or procedure.

Base Level and Clinical Training for all levels of staff. 
Yearly Annual Competencies 
Quarterly New Employee Orientation
Evaluation and recommendations of existing services related to providing pediatric specific considerations of surgical care. 

Add-on services available that can be tailored to the needs of the organization

Course Objectives

Base Training

  1. Define developmental considerations at each age level and increase understanding of appropriate communication with children and teens that will decrease a fears and misconceptions. 

  2. Identify and implement age appropriate diversion activities, tools, and methods to understand and support a child’s emotional response, and strategies and techniques to increase a child’s sense of control. 

  3. Increase effective and supportive communication with parents and caregivers to proactively address a child’s specific needs and parental concerns. 

Clinical Training
  1. Outline parent and child misconceptions of pain, cultural beliefs and implications for pain, and ways to educate parents about realistic expectations of pain.

  2. Enhance resources and methods available to educate and reduce discomfort and distress experienced by children pre and post op. 

  3. Evaluate areas of organizational improvement and sustainable ways to successfully implement tools and techniques outlined in this program. 

Be an organization that values comfort and compassionate care for your patients. 

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Pediatric-specific Considerations

See a significant difference in care outcomes when equipped with an understanding of age-appropriate language and how to utilize coping techniques to decrease anxiety.


Pediatric Pain Managment

Understand evidence-based pain management options and education techniques to decrease discomfort for the pediatric population.


Customer Satisfaction

Patients who experience a better quality of treatment and pain assessment from their care have shorter recovery periods, fewer hospital return visits, and improved patient experience.


  1. Heinrich, M., Mechea, A., & Hoffmann, F. (2016). Improving postoperative pain management in children by providing regular training and an updated pain therapy concept. European Journal of Pain (United Kingdom), 20(4), 586–593. Burkey, D. R., & Carns, P. E. (2005). Acute Pain Management: Scientific Evidence. Pain Medicine, 6(5), 397–397. 

  2. Davidson, F., Snow, S., Hayden, J. A., & Chorney, J. (2016, September 1). Psychological interventions in managing postoperative pain in children: A systematic review. Pain. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. 

  3. Calcaterra, V., Ostuni, S., Bonomelli, I., Mencherini, S., Brunero, M., Zambaiti, E., … Pelizzo, G. (2014). Music benefits on postoperative distress and pain in pediatric day care surgery. Pediatric Reports, 6(3), 44–48. 

  4. Chieng, Y. J. S., Chan, W. C. S., Klainin-Yobas, P., & He, H. G. (2014, February). Perioperative anxiety and postoperative pain in children and adolescents undergoing elective surgical procedures: A quantitative systematic review. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 

  5. Dagg, B., Forgeron, P., Macartney, G., & Chartrand, J. (2020). Adolescent Patients’ Management of Postoperative Pain after Discharge: A Qualitative Study. Pain Management Nursing, 21(6), 565–571. 

  6. Álvarez-García, C., & Yaban, Z. Ş. (2020, February 1). The effects of preoperative guided imagery interventions on preoperative anxiety and postoperative pain: A meta-analysis. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. Churchill Livingstone. 

  7. Rantala, A., Pikkarainen, M., Miettunen, J., He, H. G., & Pölkki, T. (2020). The effectiveness of web-based mobile health interventions in paediatric outpatient surgery: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Advanced Nursing. Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 

  8. He, H. G., Zhu, L., Chan, S. W. C., Klainin-Yobas, P., & Wang, W. (2015, June 1). The Effectiveness of Therapeutic Play Intervention in Reducing Perioperative Anxiety, Negative Behaviors, and Postoperative Pain in Children Undergoing Elective Surgery: A Systematic Review. Pain Management Nursing. W.B. Saunders. 

  9. Helgadóttir, H. L., & Wilson, M. E. (2014). A randomized controlled trial of the effectiveness of educating parents about distraction to decrease postoperative pain in children at home after tonsillectomy. Pain Management Nursing, 15(3), 632–640. 

  10. Baugh, R. F., Archer, S. M., Mitchell, R. B., Rosenfeld, R. M., Amin, R., Burns, J. J., … Patel, M. M. (2011, January). Clinical practice guideline: Tonsillectomy in children. Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. 

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Set up a meeting with one of our program experts, to discuss details and benefits of the PSPP program. 

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