Date of Award

Spring 5-2022

Document Type

Doctor of Nursing Practice Final Manuscript

Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice



First Advisor

Martha Fuller, PhD, PPCNP-BC

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Valles, DNP, FNP-C, PNP-C


Children diagnosed with congenital heart defects are at increased risk for neurodevelopmental delays. Timely referral of patients to a neurodevelopmental clinic for initial evaluation and referrals to support services can improve learning outcomes, provide early intervention for neurodevelopmental disorders, and mediate factors affecting low quality of life. Nationally, a substantial proportion of pediatric cardiologists are not referring children for neurodevelopmental evaluation. A review of patient referrals to a Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Clinic within an urban children’s hospital demonstrated an opportunity to improve provider awareness and knowledge of referral recommendations. Using the Iowa Model of Evidence-Based Practice to Promote Quality Care, an educational intervention was developed to improve cardiology provider’s awareness of the Neurodevelopmental Clinics and knowledge of the need to refer children diagnosed with congenital heart defects for care. The education was emailed to pediatric cardiology providers including physicians, nurses, and management. A pre/post assessment of provider knowledge and awareness was performed to measure the impact of the intervention. Provider awareness of the Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Clinic increased by 42% and knowledge of the structure and function of the Clinic doubled following completion of the education. Most providers, 73%, agreed or strongly agreed that they were likely to refer patients to the Clinic in the future. Education is an effective way to improve provider knowledge, awareness, and increase the likelihood of futures referrals which will lead to early identification and early intervention, which will then contribute to improvements in the quality of life of patients with congenital heart defects.