As an avid musician married to a visual artist, and a person graced with the friendship of many outstanding performing artists, I was totally intrigued with this article by Peter Jackson for the CBC News: From Musician to Physician: Why Medical Schools are Recruiting for Musical Ability.
Jackson begins by highlighting the early preparation (music), and the career (medicine) of Doug Angel, whose “instruments are not keyboards, but the tools are the ones he uses for reconstructive surgeries of the head and neck.”
Clearly, the manual dexterity gained by years of keyboard experience enhances his technique as a surgeon. But, the author asserts, the skills gained by years of musicianship go well beyond the acquisition of manual dexterity.
Angel, who often presents on this topic at universities and medical society meetings, states, “There’s a lot of stuff out there on the similarities between the culture of music, and the culture of medicine.”
He first highlights the necessity for constant and continual improvement in both fields. Both fields require critical, often brutal self-reflection, and the will and skill to improve. He further stresses the need for coaching - by skilled, compassionate, and honest masters, who have honed their craft, and are willing and able to share with others.
Another musician turned first-year medical student, Jessa Marie Vokey, compares her experiences making chamber music with the discipline required in the medical profession. "When you play chamber music, you are required to show up prepared, and bring a pencil. We were required to meet on our own time, to work together, to discuss what we wanted and how to achieve that," she said. “It’s the rule of music school, and of med school,” she added.
A third music student turned med-student quoted in this article was Andrew Dunsmore, a percussionist. Though both passions, music and the medical field, intrigued him, the medical profession won out, and he reflected on the similarities of both. "It's much more a lifestyle, it's much more a vocation," he said. "The work ethic, self-motivation, that sort of thing (in music), helps in my medical study."
In a world that currently reveres STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), I am constantly hopeful that there will be more attention paid to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics). In addition to the points made by the students in this article, I have witnessed other magical skills that the arts bring to enhance technical professions. Some of them are:
I am sure that there are many other ways that the arts enhance other areas of endeavor, and, as always, I look forward to hearing from you. One of my greatest joys is sharing ideas, and growing in thoughful-ness together.
Past President, WI Association for Talented and Gifted
Gifted in Perspective
A column designed to link the gifted perspective to other perspectives, and to make you think.