Hi, I’m Duncan. I just recently graduated from the nursing degree at Surrey and was fortunate to be based at Frimley Park Hospital for placements. Frimley Park do a lot to support both students and staff, so one day I found myself invited to attend one of the Schwartz Rounds that are regularly run for staff.
Schwartz Rounds (“Rounds”) can be a slightly unusual experience the first time you go. It kicked off with a free buffet lunch which was very much appreciated and I bumped into some nurses I knew from a fab previous placement, so it was a great opportunity to sit down for a chat and see how everyone was doing. This is actually by design, with the social gathering and sharing of food being an important element of how Rounds are run. Without needing any direction or guidance, I’d taken the opportunity to reconnect to the wider hospital – a good reminder of the world beyond the ward I’d been assigned for placement. Sometimes I’ve had a sense of being a little penned in, like my ward was my entire professional existence, so it was nice to get a different perspective.
After a quick lunch, everyone then gathered in the main hospital auditorium. Rounds are facilitated by one or two people who have been trained on how Rounds can be most successful. The facilitator introduced what Rounds were and were not – a confidential reflective space, without judgement. Not for problem solving or technical medical insights, but instead to discuss the emotional experience of care giving. These are important ground rules to keep the Round safe and on track – facilitators will gently steer the discussion where needed to maintain this safety.
A panel of staff members from a range of professions had prepared their story on a theme of being a trainee, so in the first twenty or so minutes of the Round, one by one I heard their perspectives and experiences. There was a stillness and attentive respect from the audience as our colleagues shared, I think the honesty and sense of truth of the experiences, without being sugar-coated, had a lot of resonance. In other spaces at other times, I might worry that the honesty might not be as well-received, but it seemed very much permitted here.
After the panel, discussion was turned over to the audience and people slowly shared comments and experiences of their own, responding to individual stories or the theme as a whole. Frequently there were long pauses and where I expected the facilitator to prompt further discussion, they instead let the silence be. This is again by design, another important element of Rounds. The silence allows for personal reflection without requiring it to be shared, it is enough to simply be present. I’ll admit, I was not entirely comfortable in those silences, which I later learned is not uncommon for newcomers, but quickly becomes easier as you attend future Rounds. It’s also varies a lot with the themes and stories, so Rounds can feature lively conversation, celebration and laughter too.
I came away from the Round with more insight into how my colleagues reacted to and experienced their varied work. I would definitely recommend students try to attend Rounds where they can while on placement. Being supernumerary helps with that as it can be difficult to find that time for ourselves otherwise, under the current system pressures. Pressures which only make Rounds more necessary!
Good news for Surrey healthcare students: the first Round for pre-registration students across all professional preparation courses will be held on Tuesday July 2nd 2019. Sign up here with the password from the recent email (sent 24/5/2019) and look forward to free food and a lovely theme of “a day I made a difference”. More details are available on SurreyLearn. You can also watch part of a Round in action at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospital here.
Author: Duncan Hamilton, Newly Qualified, Sept 2015
Disclaimer: This blog contains personal opinions of students only and does not necessarily represent the views of the Children’s Nursing team, School of Health Sciences or the University of Surrey.
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