Compassionate Care

Nov 20, 2013


As a health-care lawyer and son of a physician, Ken Schwartz thought he understood how care delivery worked. When he was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer in 1994, however, he unexpectedly gained a new perspective--that of a patient. He underwent CT scans, a bronchoscopy, exploratory surgery, and chemotherapy. Ken quickly realized that effective health care goes beyond knowing which tests to order or which drugs to administer. As he wrote before his death, "What matters most is that they [the care givers] have empathized with me in a way that gives me hope and makes me feel like a human being, not just an illness." The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Care, housed at Massachusetts General Hospital, honors Ken's legacy by working to improve communication between patients and health professionals. Their signature program is a series of interprofessional rounds that allows care givers to discuss the emotional and ethical challenges that arise in working with patients. In 2003, MGH Institute of Health Professions became the first health professions school to launch Schwartz Center Educational Rounds for future clinicians to develop the self-awareness and ethical judgment to maintain the humane side of health care. It is now part of the IMPACT Practice menu of interprofessional activities that prepares students to work in collaborative teams. This year's rounds focus on the lessons of the Boston Marathon bombing and healing after traumatic events. The next discussion will be on Monday, November 25, 2013 at 12:00 pm in 36-305 and will address the theme of "Resilience in Caring for Victims of Mass Violence." The entire IHP community is welcome to participate.

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