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 Rounds, now taking place in more than 425 healthcare facilities throughout the U.S. and over 120 throughout the U.K., 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 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.
Schwartz 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 written in 2010 and can be read in summary form.
Caregivers who participated in multiple Schwartz 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 Rounds led to the implementation of specific changes in departmental or hospital wide practices or policies to benefit both patients and providers. The study also found that the more Schwartz 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 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 Rounds in their report.