Medical students from OUWB deliver big dose of holiday cheer to local hospital

Sixteen medical students representing all of OUWB’s current classes took time to spread a little holiday cheer in the form of caroling Friday at Corewell Health William Beaumont University Hospital in Royal Oak.

The event was led by OUWB student organizations DocApella and Spinal Chords, along with the Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Interest Group and the Pediatric Interest Group.

With a setlist of about 10 songs, the boosters aimed to brighten the spirits of patients in the hospital’s physical medicine and rehabilitation units. They sang twice, at two different places in the PM&R unit to reach as many people as possible.

Doctors, nurses, hospital staff, patients and visitors were all in good spirits as OUWB students performed in what turned out to be a particularly meaningful experience for future physicians.

“We sometimes get lost in books… but at the end of the day, if you can’t communicate very well and bond with others, are you doing your best?” said Chance Stevenson, M2, Vice President, Docapella.

“It’s all about going for that human connection, and furthering that sense of community,” he added.

David Howell, M2, President of DocApella. Says, “It’s all about taking a break from studying and connecting with people.”

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“I’ve already seen that in our rehearsals…people are talking to each other, catching up, trying out new chords and new riffs,” he said. “This is…a place to try new things.”

Before rehearsals, Stevenson said he spent about 10 hours selecting songs for the setlist. He said he chose songs that fit the group’s skill level and offered a mix for audience members.

A picture of students singing at Beaumont
Medical students sing in Beaumont on December 2, 2022.

Traditional favorites such as Frosty the Snowman, Jingle Bell Rock, Santa Claus is Coming to Town and more included new options such as Last Christmas, and Winter White Hymnal (by Fleet Foxes).

The medical student performers not only sang, but also played various instruments including cajon drums, guitar, ukulele and accordion.

Allowing students to showcase their talents is another big goal of the event, Howell said.

“Just letting (the other students) live that part of their lives and express that was huge,” she said. “We don’t have time to be trained musicians because we are training for something else. But if we can go and share our joy for music with patients, that’s often enough and will carry us for years to come.”

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Other performers shared the same sentiment as Howell and Stevenson.

M2 Cullen Woodley said he enjoyed taking a break from studying to help bring some joy to the hospital. He brought the cajon drums and provided a beat for the group.

“I saw the group do it last year and it looked like a lot of fun,” he said. “And from my experience working in hospitals… it’s a great opportunity to help lift the spirits and make it feel a little bit more comfortable.”

M1 plays ukulele with Priya Razdan group.

“It’s really important that in addition to medicine we get into the community,” he said. “As an M1, I still can’t do much in the hospital, but I know music and I can help patients that way.”

Rebecca Pratt, Ph.D., professor, Department of Foundational Medical Studies, joined the students for the performance. She said she enjoyed singing with the students she had the opportunity to teach.

“It’s a pretty comfortable setting,” he said. “It also helps put things in perspective…you come here and you think, ‘Ah, this is why I’m here'”

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Lauren Rutt, a recreational therapist on the PM&R floor, said such performances mean a lot to those who are listening.

“It brings so much joy to our hearts,” he said. “Many of our patients are hoping to go home by Christmas, so this brings them the joy of hope.”

Root said patients also help students in a way.

“As medical students, they reach out to patients and, in turn, patients help them advance in their education as well,” he adds.

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, Marketing Writer, OUWB, at [email protected]

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications and Marketing webpage.

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