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Schwartz Center Rounds

Jump to:  About the Rounds | About the Center | About Ken Schwartz 

Schwartz Center Rounds® at the University of Kentucky are sponsored by the UK Program for Bioethics in coordination with the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare. Read more about Schwartz Center Rounds and about the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare below.

Schwartz Center Rounds are offered at all three UK HealthCare hospitals. Click below to view the current schedule at each hospital.

About Schwartz Center Rounds

Jump to:  Top |  About the Center | About Ken Schwartz 

(This information was adapted from the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare.)

Supporting providers. Improving quality of care.

The stresses of today’s health care system threaten the delivery of compassionate care. Financial pressures and administrative demands mean less face-to-face time with the patient and a focus on diagnosis and treatment rather than the impact of illness on the patient and family. Many caregivers today are anxious, frustrated and under pressure – with no structured outlet for expressing their feelings and little preparation for the difficult communication issues that are an inevitable part of patient care.

Schwartz Center Rounds, now taking place at more than 250 health care facilities in 36 states, offer health care providers a regularly scheduled time during their fast-paced work lives to openly and honestly discuss social and emotional issues that arise in caring for patients. In contrast to traditional medical rounds, the focus is on the human dimension of medicine. Caregivers have an opportunity to share their experiences, thoughts and feelings on thought-provoking topics drawn from actual patient cases. The premise is that caregivers are better able to make personal connections with patients and colleagues when they have greater insight into their own responses and feelings.

A hallmark of the program is interdisciplinary dialogue. Panelists from diverse disciplines participate in  Schwartz Center Rounds, including physicians, nurses, social workers, psychologists, allied health professionals and chaplains. After listening to a panel’s brief presentation on an identified case or topic, caregivers in the audience are invited to share their own perspectives on the case and broader related issues.

Benefits of rounds

Schwartz Center Rounds strengthen the caregiver-patient relationship and remind caregivers why they entered their profession. A comprehensive evaluation shows that the program has a unique and profound impact on caregivers as well as host institutions. This evaluation was recently written about in Academic Medicine and can also be read in summary form.

Caregivers who participated in multiple Schwartz Center Rounds sessions reported:

  • Increased insight into social and emotional aspects of patient care, increased feelings of compassion toward patients, and increased readiness to respond to patients’ and families’ needs.
  • Improved teamwork, interdisciplinary communication, and appreciation for the roles and contributions of colleagues from different disciplines.
  • Decreased feelings of stress and isolation, and more openness to giving and receiving support.

In many cases, participants reported that insights gained at Schwartz Center Rounds led to the implementation of specific changes in departmental or hospitalwide practices or policies to benefit both patients and providers. The study also found that the more Schwartz Center Rounds caregivers attended, the greater the benefits they experienced.

Physicians, nurses and social workers can receive continuing education credits for attending. Attendance can also help satisfy the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education core competency requirements for postgraduate residency programs. The Joint Commission includes Schwartz Center Rounds in its list of recommended resources for improving provider-patient communication. At some participating hospitals, Joint Commission surveyors have put a special note of commendation about the Schwartz Center Rounds in their report.

About the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare 

Jump to:  Top | About the Rounds | About Ken Schwartz 

(This information was adapted from the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare.)


The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare is the only national nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening relationships between patients and caregivers and promoting compassionate, patient-centered care.

The center reflects the vision of Ken Schwartz, a Boston health care attorney who, before he died of lung cancer at age 40, found that what mattered to him most as a patient were the simple acts of kindness from his caregivers, which he said made “the unbearable bearable.” He founded the Schwartz Center in 1995 to ensure that all patients are treated with compassion. The center is housed at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where Ken received his care.

Making compassionate care a priority

Through its National Consensus Project on Compassionate Healthcare, the Schwartz Center is bringing together patients, caregivers, policymakers, educators and researchers to reach consensus on a definition of compassionate care, develop best practices, and disseminate them to health care organizations across the U.S.

The center's goal is to ensure that compassionate care is a fundamental element in the design of health systems, the provision of care, the measurement of quality and outcomes, and the education of all health care professionals.

Why compassionate care matters

Compassionate care is fundamental to the practice of all health care professions. It is characterized by effective communication and emotional support, mutual trust and respect, and involving patients and families in health care decisions. At its core, it means treating patients as people, not just illnesses.

A growing body of research demonstrates that compassionate care is essential to quality healthcare. For example, compassionate care has been associated with:

  • Improved health outcomes
  • Reduced healthcare expenditures
  • Increased patient satisfaction
  • Better adherence to treatment recommendations
  • Fewer malpractice claims

About Kenneth B. Schwartz, the founder of the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare 

Jump to:  Top | About the Rounds | About the Center 

(This information was adapted from the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare.)

In November of 1994, Boston health care attorney Ken Schwartz was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. His case was riddled with terrible ironies. He was only 40 and a nonsmoker. He ate well and exercised regularly. 

During his 10-month ordeal, Ken came to realize that what matters most during an illness is the human connection between patients and their caregivers. He wrote movingly about his experience in an article for the Boston Globe Magazine titled “A Patient’s Story.” In the story, he reminds caregivers to stay in the moment with patients and how “the smallest acts of kindness” make “the unbearable bearable.” His commentary has become a touchstone for the Schwartz Center and readers all over the country and the world. 

At the end of his life, Ken outlined the organization he wanted to create. It would be a center that would nurture the compassion in healthcare, encouraging the sorts of caregiver-patient relationships that made all the difference to him. He founded the Schwartz Center in 1995 – just days before his death – to ensure that all patients receive compassionate and humane care.

Page last updated: 10/13/2014 3:51:01 PM