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'Schwartz' Becomes A Verb, Meaning To Care With Compassion

Kenneth B. Schwartz
Kenneth B. Schwartz

The Boston-based Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare earns well-deserved praise today on nytimes.com from Dr. Pauline Chen, who writes here:

That professional isolation — and the moral distress that goes with it — has contributed to alarming levels of professional burnout. But one organization has been working to change that by quietly focusing where others have not: on supporting caregivers in their everyday clinical work.

Inspired by the experiences of Kenneth B. Schwartz, a Boston health care lawyer who died of cancer in 1995 at the age of 40, the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare has for the last 15 years run a program known simply as Schwartz Rounds. Held on a monthly or bimonthly basis in hospitals, nursing homes, community health centers and academic medical centers across the country, these rounds, or meetings, are an opportunity for clinicians to discuss emotionally challenging cases or issues in their work.

The story goes on to describe the benefits of such sessions, from re-energized medical staffs to improved communication. We've written about the Schwartz Center's work before, including Rachel's recent post about the "compassion gap" in medicine and this video of Massachusetts first lady Diane Patricks discussion of her depression. Here's my favorite part of today's story:

The change even trickles down to the language of the workplace. “At some centers, ‘Schwartz’ has become a verb,” said Julie Rosen, executive director of the Schwartz Center. “To ‘de-Schwartz’ means to lose one’s compassion, and to ‘Schwartz it’ means to add conviction and compassion to a job.”

Readers, have you ever participated in a Schwartz Round? How did it affect you?

This program aired on September 15, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

Carey Goldberg Twitter Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth blog.

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