Healthcare Blog

Archive for March, 2016

Music Therapy: Sing Along with the Healthy Humorist®

Posted by capcityspeakers on March 31, 2016

by Brad Nieder, MD, CSP, The Healthy Humorist

I often promote laughter as the best medicine.  But music is good medicine, too!

Music training has been shown to increase brain plasticity.  Or bridge the cerebral hemispheres.  Or do something else neurologic I don’t quite understand.

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Stroke patients have demonstrated improved mood and memory following music therapy (unless subjected to incessant death metal music).

And in one study, pre-op patients who listened to music were less anxious than those who got an anti-anxiety drug.  (The group that received both Valium and Kenny G died instantly.)

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Heck, The Doobie Brothers even sang “Music is the doctor,” which is a strong statement from a band that obviously was an early proponent of medical marijuana.

Singing is especially therapeutic.  Like laughter, it has been shown to help relieve pain, dilate blood vessels, reduce stress hormone levels and boost antibodies.

So it’s no surprise that music is becoming more common in healthcare.  In fact, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has a song recommendation for everyone: “Row Row Row Your Boat.”  You’re supposed to sing it when you wash your hands.  That way you know you’ve washed away all the germs.  I’m a germophobe, though, so I always sing Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”  Twice.  It’s like ten minutes long, folks!  I know it’s a bit odd in public restrooms but, hey, I’m always very clean!  And I love it when the guys in the stalls hold up their lighters for me.  (Serves two purposes!)

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Not to be outdone, the American Heart Association (AHA) has a song recommendation for you if you ever need to do CPR: The Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive.”  It’s true!  It’s part of the CPR training now!  Just remember to avoid the Travolta moves!  You must keep both hands on the patient when doing chest compressions!  Obviously the song is easy to remember.  And it’s a good mantra to have when trying to save someone’s life.  But most important, it has the perfect number of beats per minute for effective CPR.  It took the AHA a while to figure out the best song.  First they recommended you sing Elton John’s old hit “Someone Saved My Life Tonight.”  It was the right message but it was too slow; all the patients died.  Then they had the opposite problem—meaning they had the right beats per minute but the wrong message—when they recommended Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.”  Worst of all was Roberta Flack’s lovely old ballad “Killing Me Softly with His Song.”  Too slow AND very inappropriate!

But why stop at hand washing and CPR?  There are so many great songs for other procedures and medical specialties.

Cardiologists have the most playlist options, as there are many songs about broken hearts.

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Psychiatrists have a lot of options, too, but they usually just play Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” on a loop.

Obstetricians like Semisonic’s “Closing Time” for childbirth.  (Really.  Listen carefully to the clever lyrics!)

Orthopedic surgeons opt for Hip Hop and George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone.”  (They also sing “Head Shoulders Knees & Toes” quietly to themselves as a pre-op anatomy refresher.)

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Any good ophthalmology playlist starts with “Doctor, My Eyes” by Jackson Browne and ends with Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now.”

Sex reassignment surgeons have Shania Twain’s “Man, I Feel Like a Woman,” Aerosmith’s “Dude (Looks Like a Lady),” Aretha Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” and of course “Lola” by The Kinks.

Dermatology procedures tend to be quick and easy (and expensive!)  So the whole list is usually “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” (Frank Sinatra) followed by Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing.”

I’m sure you have your own favorites.  Feel free to (ahem) chime in.  And while music may be good medicine, it’s certainly no panacea.  Rocker David Bowie, who received an honorary doctorate from Boston’s Berklee College of Music in 1999, offered this pearl of wisdom to his peers: “Any list of advice I have to offer to a musician always ends with, ‘If it itches, go and see a doctor.’”


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8 extraordinary things that healthcare presidents do: As reported by others in the organization

Posted by capcityspeakers on March 24, 2016

by Vicki Hess

It all started on a phone call with nursing leader, Anita Walden. Anita is the Chief Nursing Officer at Decatur Morgan Hospital in Decatur, AL. We were talking about best practices related to employee engagement and she shared a story with me about the president of the hospital, Nat Richardson. I was amazed!

When anyone enters the hospital he or she receives a postcard with the president’s picture and cell phone number. As Anita was telling me about this card, I automatically assumed that they had an assistant answering the phone and triaging the messages. I figured the president would then pass along the information to other senior leaders and make sure they were taken care of.

I was wrong (you’ll read more about this extraordinary president in #7 below). This prompted me to reach out to my followers on social media and my newsletter subscribers to ask for stories of extraordinary things that healthcare presidents/CEOs do. I asked one simple question and promptly received 10 responses. I’m sharing some of them verbatim and for the last few I’ll include the highlights. Of course, you don’t have to be the president to try out these ieas. Any leader – in fact anyone – can try them on for size.

Let’s define extraordinary

One thing I found particularly noteworthy is what folks describe as “extraordinary”. According to Merriam Webster, extraordinary means “going beyond what is usual, regular, or customary.”

What I also find interesting is that the folks who took the time to respond my question have defined extraordinary according to their own beliefs and mindsets. What I quickly learned is that one person’s “ordinary” often becomes another’s “extraordinary.” As you read the following eight ideas, you can judge for yourself.

1. Jars of jam. “Carole Holmes, CEO of inSite Senior Care, shared her love with us this past Christmas by using jam! She personally made a variety of little jars of jam from local fruit and sent them to all the residents and staff of each of inSite’s seven facilities. Everyone enjoyed her gift and the thought behind it.”
Shared by Angela Senneker, LPN, MA, Community Manager, Chateau Three Hills

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Three Powerful Ways to Prevent Stress

Posted by capcityspeakers on March 17, 2016

by Colette Carlson

three-ways-stress-lessDo you feel exhausted before the day is even half over? Stress drains us of our energy, weakens our focus, our immune system, and our brilliance. Research shows prevention is still the number one way to reduce stress beating out even exercise and meditation. Stop the stress from happening in the first place to start feeling more energized. Here’s three ways:

Stop Saying One More Thing – The conversation is almost over and you say one more thing. The long-winded coworker hears your last sentence as an invite to keep going instead of as a conversation close. One more quick question launches into a much longer discussion as the clock ticks and your other priorities are not completed. You finish the break room banter with one last funny phrase and now the exchange lasts several more minutes. Connect with your colleagues, build relationships, and make your point heard. However, be aware of the impact of saying one more thing. Is your message well-timed and well-received when your one last comment or concern expands the scope and length of a meeting or detours the topic? Be conscious of the impact of saying one more thing on your energy, productivity, and reputation.

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Take on Your Toughest Opponent

Posted by capcityspeakers on March 9, 2016

by Kristin Baird

For many of us, our toughest opponent isn’t our boss, co-worker, or golf rival. It’s the internal monologue playing inside our heads. The one that plays into the patient experience nearly every moment of the day is the one that says, “I don’t have time.” Saying that over and over to yourself throughout the day adds pressure, making you feel even more harried. Time is one of our most precious resources. True, it’s limited, but we all have the same number of minutes in the day. I have found that, by telling myself over and over, that I don’t have time becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When I catch myself, I try to play a new message – I have time for what’s most important.

A few years ago, I was coaching some nurses on behaviors to improve the patient experience. I had suggested that, before leaving a patient’s room they stop and ask if there is anything more that they can do for the patient, adding, “I have time.”

One of the nurses in the group got very upset with me. A night nurse on the med/surge floor, she constantly felt stretched for time. She felt that by my asking her to say this, I was being insensitive to her situation and her needs. I was grateful that she brought up these concerns as it gave me the opportunity to discuss the power of self-talk.

I explained to her that, having been a night nurse myself, I understood how busy they can be. I also shared something I had learned about inner monologue or self-talk. I asked her to take a second before walking into the patient room to take a deep breath and get centered so she could be fully present to engage better. Then do the same thing before leaving the room and asking what else she could do. I encouraged her to give it a three week trial.

At the end of the three weeks she told me that doing this repeatedly actually helped her to feel calmer and more focused on her patients. She reported, “I can’t believe it. I actually feel like I have more time by saying it over and over.” She had conquered her worst enemy with her own thoughts.

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