Sharing Burdens at Schwartz Rounds

“I appreciate hearing from physicians who shared things they normally don’t have a chance to share,” said one attendee to the most recent and third Schwartz Rounds session held at the Queen’s Conference Center’s Mabel Smyth Auditorium. Staff from the other hospitals joined with a remote connection.

Whereas medical rounds are a forum to discuss the clinical cases of patients and share medical information, Schwartz Rounds are a forum to openly and honestly discuss the social and emotional issues staff face in caring for patients and families. The focus is on the human dimension of medicine, where caregivers can share their experiences, thoughts, and feelings of their patient cases. Due to the nature of Schwartz Rounds, Hospital Ministry chaplains attend and often contribute to the sessions. Their presence is also a reminder that chaplains are available 24/7 to care for staff too, not just patients.

Based on the idea that caregivers are better able to make personal connections with patients and colleagues when they have greater insight into their own responses and feelings, Schwartz Rounds give health care professionals and staff a safe, judgment-free, confidential time and space to gather, discuss, and process the emotional impact of challenging cases. Participants are encouraged to share what they learned with colleagues, but without names or the specific details of cases to preserve patient confidentiality.

A theme is chosen for each session. For this session, four panelists were asked to share their thoughts when they’ve encountered a patient with a life changing injury or illness who is related to or a close friend of a staff member. For example, what happens when you must have a hard discussion with a colleague about their child’s or parent’s condition? Should you be the one to treat a family member of your colleague? What if your colleague wants you to step in when it could potentially overstep into another clinician’s area?

The panelists, as well as attendees, agreed that it is terrifying to come through the ER with a family member of a colleague. A clinician whose family member came in with a serious condition said that you should be supportive by getting involved with treatment because it’s called an ‘ohana for a reason. Even though the colleague should know what’s going on clinically, they still need as much information as possible from their coworkers. At that point, they are not a colleague, but a family member of the patient and need to be treated as such, even if they happen to be an expert in their loved one’s condition. When a family member has a serious illness or injury, the hardest part is feeling useless—the staff member may have helped hundreds of others, but can’t do anything for their own loved one.

“Sometimes, it’s easy to forget the Queen Emma Way in a patient’s room,” shared one of the panelists. “We should try to follow the Queen Emma Way regardless of a person’s status or connection to the hospital. When a loved one is in the hospital, compassion is sometimes all a colleague needs.”

The next Schwartz Rounds session is scheduled for Tuesday, October 2, from 12:00 – 1:00 pm at the Queen’s Conference Center auditorium. The topic will be patient and visitor violence against staff. For more information, visit www.theschwartzcenter.org or contact QCIPN at 691-7220 or at qcipn@queens.org.

Schwartz Rounds

Schwartz Rounds give health care professionals and staff a safe, confidential time and space to gather and discuss the emotional impact of challenging cases. Participants report:

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

The next Schwartz Rounds session is scheduled for Tues., Oct. 2, 12:00–1:00 pm, Queen’s Conference Center auditorium. The topic will be patient and visitor violence against staff.

For more information contact QCIPN at 691-7220 or at qcipn@queens.org