PEP:medical students explore communication with musicians on children’s wards

pep jan 16“From this point I can be considered an advocate for the arts in healthcare. The PEP has allowed me to appreciate the value of creative expression not only for those who are ill, but for everybody.  I will continue to learn and develop my own creativity to better my personal and professional development”

Ten more third  year medical students studied approaches to  holistic healthcare with Music for Health and Lime Arts in January 2016. For many this was their first experience of visiting a paediatric hospital, and in seeing first hand the impact of hospitalisation on children and their families. All the students had an interest in either music, or the arts in general – or both – and used their own interests to explore the benefits of music and the arts to young patients who find their lives disrupted by medical treatment.

“I’ve learnt to appreciate the emotional side of a patient’s recovery, and the concept of using music to address this need. And the fact that this is a new form of communication skill.” 

The students learnt about how  techniques used by musicians on the wards can inform their own communication with patients, and the experience stimulated discussions about their own aspirations for healthcare environments of the future. We were 100% inspired by the dedication, commitment and desire evident in these young professionals right at the start of their careers to make the healthcare environment a better place for patients, and the compassion and conviction shown through their vocation to help people often at the most vulnerable times in their lives.

” I’ve learnt so much about how to engage with children and I will definitely carry these new lessons with me. The way that music changes the ward environment in such a positive way was amazing”

Exploring the clinical environement from a musical perspective provides new insights as to how we train young medical professionals in developing communication skills, and in addressing perceptions of performance and presentation in practice. Often a desire to ‘do things the right way’ can overtake the need to remember to listen.

” The PEP is a great experience that taught me lessons that can be applied in my future career. I learnt how to approach children effectively. I learnt that we should not forget that patients are human too and they need us to treat them like one. We often have our own agenda coming in and forget to really communicate with them.”

In working together we find the best advocates for each other’s practice. It is a privelige to work with such dedicated future medical professionals and to gain an insight as to why they have chosen medicine as a career. In the same way, these clinicians of the future are now able to understand through first hand experience, why arts in healthcare is so important.

” Thank you so much! I have a whole new appreciation for the importance of  art and music as a part of health, I will take away so much from the experience. I want to spread the word about what you do. I especially hope that other hospitals will take it up.”

If you want to find out more, an article on our work in training medical students in music and communication at The Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital can be found on  P. 6 of Pacemaker Magazine:


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