Aston University launches Schwarz Rounds sessions to support staff and student wellbeing

  • Schwartz Rounds provide a structured forum to discuss the emotional and social aspects of working in healthcare
  • Schwartz Rounds can be established in any health or care organisation in the UK
  • The College of Health and Life Sciences will hold Schwartz Rounds on a monthly basis

Aston University’s College of Health and Life Sciences has established Schwartz Rounds, which allow medical and healthcare students to discuss the emotional aspects of their work in a safe space, to help to promote wellbeing.

A steering group for Aston University’s Schwartz Rounds includes members of staff from all five schools within the College of Health and Life Sciences. It is led by Dr Shagaf Bakour, director of medical education – MBChB Phase II at Aston Medical School, and Dr Jayne Murphy, programme director, Nursing.

The aim of Schwartz Rounds is to provide a structured, interprofessional, reflective forum, where students and staff can come together regularly to discuss the emotional impact of their work and training. Rounds are not intended to troubleshoot or solve problems, but to help participants feel more connected to each other and to promote a more compassionate culture. They are designed to be confidential. It is increasingly being recognised that compassion is a fundamental skill for medical and healthcare professionals, and Schwartz Rounds offer an important interprofessional learning opportunity.

Each Round is coordinated by two trained facilitators, and a panel of two or three storytellers will share an experience of practice and how it made them feel. The facilitators then encourage members of the audience to share their thoughts and experience. The theme of the first Aston University Schwarz Round, held on 25 October 2023, was ‘In your shoes’, and those on the panel shared experiences of when they became the patient, what they learnt, and how it affected their practice afterwards.

Schwartz Rounds have long been established in the NHS, and Aston University has joined a band of 14 training institutes in the Midlands to introduce them. The University is part of two hubs, led by the universities of Warwick and Leicester. Schwartz Rounds were originally set up in the US by the Schwartz Centre for Compassionate Healthcare.

They are supported in the UK and Ireland by the Point of Care Foundation, which advocates Schwarz Rounds to help to normalise the strong emotions that arise from clinical work during training.

Dr Bakour said:

“Evidence shows that students and clinicians who attend Rounds feel less stressed and isolated, with increased insight and appreciation for each other’s roles. They also help to reduce hierarchies between staff and students and to focus attention on relational aspects of care.

“The underlying premise for Rounds is that the compassion shown by students and staff can make the difference to a patient’s experience of care.”