How a Musical Background Can Help Premedical Students


It may be surprising that a disproportionate number of medical students in the United States are educated …

It may be surprising that a disproportionate number of medical students in the United States have a background in music. While many are amateur musicians, a considerable number have had formal training in the field and even professional success as performers.

It’s not entirely clear why so many musicians end up in medicine, as the two fields can seem far apart. Yet something draws people with a musical ear to patient care.

Whatever the reasons, musicians possess useful soft skills that are invaluable to the study and practice of medicine. The premedical journey can be difficult, but it shouldn’t deter premedical students with a musical background or an interest in music from pursuing this unique passion. In addition to serving as an outlet that can help them unwind after a long day at work, music will help them hone a host of skills that will prepare them for the journey ahead.

Strong work ethic

Anyone who has ever tried playing a musical instrument or singing knows that mastering a piece of music takes a lot of hard work. Perfecting manual dexterity skills on the violin or piano requires long hours over long periods of time. In addition to technical mastery, it takes a lot of extra hours to infuse the artistic and creative elements that make the piece pleasing to the ear.

[READ: How Premed Students Can Combine Passion for the Arts and Medicine.]

In music, there are no shortcuts. Mastering a piece of music takes hard work day in and day out, even when inspiration is lacking. Yet in the process, the musician develops a strong sense of self-discipline and a rigorous work ethic. Along with this, sitting at the piano or playing the violin for several hours a day can be physically taxing on the body, which teaches the musician greater endurance.

The endurance that musicians develop over time is beneficial in medicine. Physical endurance can help them cope with long hours spent standing in hospital or in an operating room. Mental stamina is useful when medical students have to spend long hours studying for exams or counseling.

The self-discipline that musicians develop through religious practice is also transferred to medicine. Many medical schools adopt problem-based learning models in their curricula and encourage students to become independent learners who can find answers to questions on their own.

In this type of academic environment, being motivated is key to finding answers, enhancing the learning experience, and being successful as a student. As a practicing physician, staying up to date in the field requires having the discipline necessary for continuous learning every day. A musical background can help in this regard.

Ability to connect with patients

Music is a powerful way to express emotion. Instrumentalists and singers need to understand the emotional state of the composer who wrote a piece, add their own creative element to that piece, and communicate it to an audience.

[Read: Cultivate Communication Skills for Med School Admissions Success.]

This awareness of the emotional state of the other and the ability to relay the composer’s message is akin to connecting with patients. Caring for patients involves understanding their state of mind and being able to bond with them as they experience a variety of emotions during their journey with the disease.

Mastering music can lead to a solid understanding of the human condition when seeking to understand the many different emotions that a composer expresses in a piece of music. This understanding can help physicians build relationships with their patients. In fact, some medical schools are incorporating art into their teaching because they have found that the arts can teach medical students to be more empathetic.

Team work

Whether you’re a member of a hard rock band, a classical symphony, or a church choir, playing music often involves working as a team. The long hours musicians spend training with others help them develop teamwork and collaboration.

Most musicians who play in groups understand that the different members of the group must work together in harmony to create the desired result. This can lead to a greater appreciation of the value of being part of a team.

[Read: How Medical School Applicants Can Stand Out Without a Premed Major.]

The teamwork skills that are developed in music are useful in medical school for studying with peers or working on group projects. It also helps during clinical years where medical students alternate between various medical specialties and must work alongside their peers, residents, treating physicians, and other members of various healthcare teams to care for patients.

These teamwork skills are also important in medical practice. Many physicians join group practices or work in hospitals where effective collaboration is imperative. In fact, research has shown that improving teamwork in clinical settings can reduce medical errors and improve patient care.

If these are not enough reasons for you to pursue music during your premedical journey, you might want to keep in mind that a music education can go a long way in impressing medical school admissions committees as well.

Whatever your initial motivation for acquiring a musical instrument for the first time or pursuing an already existing musical interest as a premed, you will be pleasantly surprised at how much this will help you navigate your journey through the premed years. in medical school and your medical career.

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