Musicianship & Medical School Success: Another Example Of The Power Of Music

music and medical school

As an undergraduate, Doug Angel studied music performance at Memorial University of Newfoundland's School of Music. He majored in piano.

Today, though, you're more likely to find the 35-year-old in an operating theater, not a conventional one.

His instruments are not keyboards, but the tools are ones he uses for reconstructive surgeries of the head and neck.

Most of his patients have cancer and require tumors to be removed. The manual dexterity he developed playing piano is the most obvious skill he brought to his surgical practice.

But the correlations go well beyond that.

"There's a lot of stuff out there on the similarities between the culture of music and the culture of medicine," Angel said last week, sipping on a pint in downtown St. John's.

It's his first day of vacation, and Angel is describing how he has given presentations on the subject at universities and medical society meetings across Canada.

Constant, continual improvement

What are some of the things music can teach medical students? For one, avoiding complacency.

One of Angel's musical mentors is Canadian pianist André LaPlante, who performed at last year's Tuckamore Festival in St. John's. LaPlante has a simple mantra: "In music, plateaus are unacceptable."

"That's just part of being a musician at my level: consistently reassessing what you do," said Angel.

"We don't do that enough [in surgery]."

Originally published: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Read complete article here

Andy Tallent