Supporting Providers: Schwartz Center Rounds®

For people who work with hospitalized children—clinicians, therapists, child life specialists, hospital teachers, even housekeepers—the emotional aspects of that work can be challenging.

Schwartz Center Rounds®, a national evidence-based program offered at American Family Children’s Hospital (AFCH), provides a monthly forum for professional caregivers from different departments and disciplines to share their personal feelings—and strengthen connections with each other, with patients and with families.

The Human Dimensions of Medicine

Schwartz Center Rounds sessions are held on the third Thursday of each month, in AFCH room 1335. All healthcare providers at AFCH are welcome to attend; see continuing education credit details for physicians and nurses.

Each session features a guided panel discussion organized around a specific theme, such as the cultural issues of transplantation or the stress of balancing work and life during the holidays.

Although a theme may be based on a patient case, the meeting is intended to focus on ideas, thoughts and emotions—not clinical details.

“It’s not an ethics forum or a problem-solving session,” explained AFCH social worker Craig Becker, MSSW, who co-facilitates the program with AFCH chaplain Sally Bowers. “It’s about the feelings that get evoked from those situations.”

Because of the sensitive nature of the discussions, Becker and Bowers work hard to ensure a respectful, confidential environment. Participants are asked to turn off phones and pagers, to arrive on time, and to not leave before the meeting is over.

A Profound Impact on Caregivers and Institutions

The Schwartz Center Rounds program was piloted in 1997 at Massachusetts General Hospital, and has been held there monthly ever since.

More than 400 hospitals and other health care institutions in the U.S., U.K. and Canada now offer the program. An evaluation published in Academic Medicine showed that Schwartz Center Rounds can have a profound impact on caregivers and institutions alike. Most of the caregivers reported that attending Rounds improved their communication and teamwork, heightened their appreciation of colleagues and enhanced their ability to meet patients’ emotional and social needs.

Former UW Departments of Pediatrics resident—and now clinical instructor—Katherine Y. Magnuson, MD, first experienced Schwartz Center Rounds at another institution. She brought it to the attention of John Frohna, MD, Mary Ehlenbach, MD, and Kari Stampfli, RN, MS, CPNP, who championed the program. The first Schwartz Center Rounds session was held at AFCH in late 2013.

According to Becker and Bowers, each meeting brings more participants, deeper discussions, and a richer sense of community among clinicians and staff.

“It also helps to bring some closure—to allow people to verbally express an emotional piece they have held onto for so long,” Bowers reflected. “There is so much more going on than what we see. It really is a culture shift to do this.”

*Physicians can receive AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™ for participating. In addition, 1.0 contact hour has been awarded for this program for nurses. University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics is an approved provider of continuing nursing education by the Wisconsin Nurses Association, an accredited approver by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.