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Posted On: 8 April 2014 01:20 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 01:51 pm

Exploring the art of patient-doctor communication through music

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At a live jazz event organized by Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q), Associate Dean for Student Affairs Dr. Stephen Scott and artists from Jazz at Lincoln Center – Doha explored the parallels between the art of jazz and the art of doctor-patient communication.

The ‘Jazz & the Art of Communication’ event featured internationally renowned singer Gregory Generet, bassist Matthew Rybicki, pianist Takeshi Ohbayashi, and drummer Shawn Baltazor, who played a number of pieces and also engaged in a dialogue with Dr. Scott about the music, communication, and medicine.

The event drew an impressive audience and was held at the Black Box Theater at the Hamad Bin Khalifa University Student Center on Wednesday April 2.

Addressing the audience, Dr. Scott said: “When we as physicians speak with our patients, we have to be aware that communication involves more than simply the content of the words. Body language, inflection, tone of voice and other cues have a great influence on what we hear, as well as the way our message is interpreted.”

Generet added: “When we play a song, we can interpret it in many different ways. Each note I sing or that Takeshi or Matt plays can be sounded in a variety of ways. We can play fast or slow, we can make it strong or gentle, and Shawn can subtly change the rhythm. All the time we’re communicating with each other and communicating with the audience, and reacting to the feedback.

“One key similarity is authenticity – if you put your true self into the music, the audience is likely to react well to that. The same is true when you’re speaking to someone.”

Dr. Scott illustrated that students and physicians develop their own ‘voice,’ or ways of communicating with patients, and move beyond a rigid script. He said: “A script is a necessary starting point, but we need to be able to adapt in the moment and respond to our patients in ways that are more nuanced and intuitive than a script allows.”

The hour-and-a-half-long set finished with a question and answer session with the audience. Those in attendance showed their appreciation with a long and loud round of applause.

Speaking after the event, first-year WCMC-Q medical student and avowed Charlie Parker fan Ahmed Mushannen said: “We are at the stage of our studies where we are just starting to interact with patients, so I gained some useful insights.

“I have read some of the attempts to create a formulaic approach to speaking with patients, but in the field I think you need to be able to react to the different ways of communicating of each individual patient, which probably comes with practice and by being willing to listen carefully to every patient and their needs.”

- ILQ News -