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Schwartz Rounds for students

Ali Smith-Johns University of Surrey 04 March 2021

On University Mental Health Day, Ali Smith-Johns from the School of Health Sciences, University of Surrey, talks to us about her experience of running Schwartz Rounds for healthcare students.


How did you hear about Schwartz Rounds?

I was introduced to Schwartz Rounds by Professors Cath Taylor and Jill Maben when they took up their roles at the School of Health Sciences, University of Surrey. I had heard about them before from one of our undergraduate nursing students who was very keen to discuss them being brought into the School. That student is now a very core member of our Schwartz steering group at Surrey and is undertaking a PhD using realist synthesis to look at Rounds in Higher Education!

Why did you decide to go to your first Round?

I was intrigued by the idea of Rounds and had never experienced them in my clinical practice. I was invited to attend a Round as an observer at a local hospital where Schwartz Rounds have long been established. I found the experience profoundly moving and began to see the potential for them being run in a University setting for both staff and also healthcare students.

Why do you think Schwartz Rounds are relevant to students?

For us working in Health Sciences programmes, including Nursing, Paramedic Sciences and Midwifery, it feels essential to be preparing our students for professional practice in every way. Schwartz Rounds help our students become comfortable with the idea of personal reflection and to develop the ability to genuinely listen to the stories of others. Our hope is that the experience of the Schwartz Rounds will allow them to give themselves permission to take time to look after themselves whilst they look after others.

What would you say to a student considering going to a Round?

We say to our students that it is the opportunity to hear from their peers and reflect on both their peers and their own experiences in a safe, facilitated and confidential space. And we provide some lunch!

What is your most memorable experience of a Schwartz Round?

My most memorable Rounds have been those where the hidden narratives gradually emerge as the result of the resonances created by powerful and emotive stories form panellists.

What kinds of experiences have students described during Rounds?

Our students have described a broad range of experiences, some from their academic life and others from clinical practice. Some of the most moving have included experiences they have had during the pandemic, but also reflections on colleagues who have inspired and helped them to grow into professional clinicians.

What have you found most helpful about Schwartz Rounds?

I have found it fascinating to watch the ripple effect of regular Schwartz Rounds. There have been times when the topic of a Round has revealed new reflections and resonances which have in turn led to a shared understanding outside of the Round. Both staff and student Rounds have regularly attending audience members and this is creating a growing community of caring within the School.