What are patient rounds?

September 25, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Gap Medics student Angela and her mentor in the pediatric department of Tosamaganga HospitalPatient rounds, also referred to as multidisciplinary rounds, are an important part of the patient care process. If you are a medical, nursing or physician assistant student, you may have the opportunity to observe or participate in patient rounds. It is helpful to get an understanding of what rounds are and what is expected.

The purpose of rounds

Patient rounds involve various disciplines coming together to discuss the patient’s condition and coordinate care. The attending physician usually leads or facilitates rounds. A resident, nurse and a team of allied healthcare professionals are also often in attendance, such as a respiratory therapist, nutritionist, and social worker. Nursing, physician assistant and medical students may also take part in rounds.

Usually the patient’s case is presented to the group by either the resident or the nurse. The results of medical procedures, such as x-rays, CT scans and electrocardiograms may be discussed. Lab work, such as blood and urine tests, will also be reviewed. The plan of care including prioritizing treatment and establishing goals will be evaluated.

In some facilities, a patient’s family members have the opportunity to attend rounds related to the care of their loved one. The purpose is to have families involved in decision making and have a chance to ask questions regarding care.

How to be effective on rounds

Patient rounds are used as an educational tool. They also help keep everyone on the same page when it comes to the treatment plan. Whether you are a medical, nursing or physician assistant student, there are things you can do in order to get the most out of the experience.

Read about the patients you will be rounding on. If time permits, read patients’ histories and review recent labs and other test results. Check patient monitoring sheets, such as the vital signs record. Be sure to do enough research in order to at least have a basic understanding of a patient’s diagnosis and his or her current condition.

Arrive early to avoid interrupting rounds once they have started. Additionally, be prepared to answer questions related to your area of expertise. For instance, if you are a nursing student, you may be asked questions related to the patient’s response to medication or the patient’s level of consciousness.

Do’s and don’ts

Regardless of your position, there are a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to attending patient rounds.

Do pay attention: Even if you think no one will ask you any questions and you are just observing, be attentive. You never know when you will be called on to answer a question.

Don’t talk among yourselves: Talking to other students or staff when a case is being presented is distracting to others.

Do silence your cell:  Having your cell phone go off in the middle of rounds is a distraction and can get you noticed for the wrong things.

Don’t overstep your role:  While it is acceptable to ask a question, always chiming in and speaking up may be a little too much if you are a student.