For children and teens recovering from illness or injury, knowledge is key. Understanding their treatment plan gives patients a voice and allows them to take a more active role in managing their care. That message was made clear on June 19 when Austin Quinney and Wendy Wooden, two longtime Mass General for Children (MGfC) patients, spoke with pediatric residents beginning their hospital training. 

Austin and Wendy shared their experiences participating in family-centered rounds.  During these bedside visits, patients and their family members are invited to join a team of medical students, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists to discuss the hospitalized child’s medical status and develop a strategy for the day. Traditionally, clinicians gather in the corridor outside the patient’s room, but family-centered rounds provide an opportunity for patients and their parents to ask questions and give feedback to their care team. Austin and Wendy's advice to the newly minted residents included getting to know their patients' names and interests, and being honest about what to expect during the hospital stay. 

“We know that adults learn best when they are motivated, what they are learning is viewed of high value and is related to what they are doing.  In a jam-packed orientation schedule, hearing directly from patients is one of the highest yield activities we can add,” says Shannon Scott-Vernaglia, director of the MGfC Pediatric Residency Program. “These young physicians are eager to begin their careers caring for children.  I expect that this hour amidst two weeks of orientation is likely to be one of their standout memories in a few weeks' time.”

At the beginning of each academic year, the residency program and Family Advisory Council (FAC) set up - an ‘Introduction to Family Centered Rounds’ session featuring  patients and parents, part of an extensive two week hospital immersion course. This year, Austin and Wendy joined their parents, Erin Quinney and Darcy Daniels, members of the FAC, for the meeting held on MGfC’s pediatric unit Ellison 17. FAC parent members universally agree that bedside rounding is a crucial way for them to partner with the medical team while also educating their children. “I am raising a child with a chronic illness who will one day be an adult with a chronic illness. Wendy must someday manage her own health issues,” says Daniels.

“Caring for kids and their families is what drew me to this field. I want to make sure my approach to medical care is in their best interest, both medically and psychologically. That is what family centered rounding is all about - putting these ideals and lessons to practice,” says Michael Kelly, MD, who is in the first of his four-year training program in general internal medicine and pediatrics.