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4 Ways music prepares you for medical school

PIANO PLAYER
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If you're a musician, you might have a future in medicine ...

The benefits of music for the brain have been well-established, but the similarities between life as a musician and life in medical school go far beyond this.

According to three musicians-turned-doctors, there are several benefits to their past lives that inform the way they approach their new profession — and they believe the field of medicine could learn a thing or two, as well.

Here are four ways being a musician could make you a better doctor:

  1. Dexterity. The manual skills of playing the piano or the flute can provide the necessary precision for performing surgery.
  2. Tenacity. According to former pianist and surgeon Doug Angel, medicine could benefit from the practice of constant re-evaluation and improvement required of performance musicians. He said, “That’s just part of being a musician at my level: constantly reassessing what you do. We don’t do that enough in surgery.”
  3. Self-discipline. Both music and medical students are expected to study and improve on their own time, meaning that someone who lacks the ability to self-motivate will likely struggle to keep up. Current MUN medical student Jessa Vokey said, “When you play chamber music, you are required to show up prepared. We were required to meet on our own time, to work together, to discuss what we wanted and how to achieve that. It’s the rule of music school and of med school.”
  4. Commitment. Both music and medical school consume not only a few hours of practice a week, but rather your whole life. One’s chosen area of study becomes a way of life more than a degree. MUN student Andrew Dunsmore said, “It’s much more a lifestyle. It’s much more a vocation.”

Some of the great geniuses of history practiced a combination of music, art, and medicine, proving that these areas are not mutually exclusively. If you’re making a decision between music and healthcare, you might not have to choose — in the long run each can help the other.

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