Schwartz Rounds in Higher Education - Point of Care Foundation (2024)

Schwartz Rounds are primarily used within health and care organisations, but their value in supporting wellbeing and building compassionate cultures has been recognised in other sectors and types of organisation..

We have been active in supporting Schwartz Rounds in higher education settings since 2015, when University College London Medical School began running Rounds for medical students. The University of Liverpool followed in 2016 by running interprofessional Rounds for students from nine different healthcare programmes. By 2021 there were 18 universities in the UK running student Schwartz Rounds – mainly for healthcare students, including those training in medicine, dentistry, nursing, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, diagnostic radiography, therapy radiography, clinical psychology, orthoptics, midwifery, social work and pharmacy.

Impact for students

Schwartz Rounds are beneficial in supporting healthcare students whilst in training. They provide a structured space for students to come together to discuss the emotional aspects of their work and support their capacity to deliver compassionate care. The Rounds help to normalise the strong emotions that arise from clinical work during training, and enable students to have greater insight, compassion for and appreciation of the roles and work of other healthcare professionals.

Research and evaluation specifically relating to the impact of attending student HEI Schwartz Rounds suggests many positive benefits. Data collected from the nine HEIs forming the University of Liverpool led ‘Schwartz North’ project, funded by Health Education England North, demonstrates the value of running student Rounds. The majority of students attending Schwartz North project Rounds rated them highly in relation to hearing others talk openly about their personal feelings in the context of their work, feeling more informed and aware of the importance of care and compassion in caring for patients and gaining insight into how others think and feel in caring for patients.

Attending Schwartz Rounds makes an important contribution in relation to Interprofessional Learning with students appreciating the interactive nature of Rounds, the increased awareness of other healthcare professions’ roles and the importance of working as a team.

Qualitative interviews with students who have attended Rounds highlight the impact in relation to:

Normalising feelings:

Good to reflect on own emotions and relate to others – helps you feel like you’re not alone and that it is normal to have emotions.”

Connectedness:

Makes you realise you’re not on your own in how you’re feeling.”

Confidence/courage:

I feel more courage…it’s actually kind of inspiring…I’m about to go on placement tomorrow, to intensive care, so there’s a lot of things that I’m keeping in my mind from the Schwartz Rounds.”

Schwartz Rounds in HEIs contribute to the development of students as global citizens and help to prepare them for clinical practice. Anecdotal evidence suggests that attending Rounds as a student promotes a career-long approach to professional life that includes reflection on and processing of the emotional impact of work in health and care.

Attending Rounds as a student also creates a new generation of Schwartz Rounds ‘activists’ – ambassadors for the importance of Rounds – who advocate for them in NHS Trusts and other healthcare organisations. For example, a clinical psychologist who works at Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust attended Schwartz Rounds as a student at the University of Liverpool. She recalls that the Rounds were:

…incredibly formative…I was shaped professionally by the openness of senior colleagues when reflecting on the emotional and psychological impact of their work. I felt encouraged by their openness and vulnerability…I found courage to be more accepting of my own humanity and difficult feelings I encountered in mypractice…I am now a Schwartz facilitator and remain passionate about the power of storytelling. I think we all need more compassionate, safe spaces where we can draw on the collective strength of our workforce through sharing, listening and responding to staff stories.”

Enhancing student experience

There is evidence that access to Schwartz Rounds in HEIs as a student forms part of the HEI pastoral offer and aids student wellbeing. The positive contribution that running Schwartz Rounds has to the overall student experience was recognised in 2018 when the University of Liverpool’s Schwartz Rounds team received a university-wide award for the ‘Greatest Contribution to the Student Experience’.

Schwartz Rounds in Higher Education project

In January 2022 we embarked on a project dedicated to supporting HEIs in the UK to run Schwartz Rounds for health and social care students. The work includes support for those HEIs already running student Schwartz Rounds as well as those HEIs that want to start to run Rounds, with the development of HEI-specific Schwartz Rounds resources and building on The Point of Care Foundation’s existing HEI Schwartz Rounds network to enable a UK wide community of practice for Schwartz Rounds in HEIs.

For further information about the HEI Schwartz Rounds project, contact Laura Golding,Project Lead for Schwartz Rounds in Higher Education.

Click to watch a short video on Schwartz Rounds for students

Schwartz Rounds in Higher Education - Point of Care Foundation (2024)
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