Music can be a powerful healer. Just ask Dianne Baker, RN, BSN. A registered nurse from Ann Arbor, Mich., Dianne has been using music in combination with her nursing background to help patients meet their healthcare goals for years. It has been shown to improve physical health and to have a positive effect on emotional health. Dianne founded Songs Alive, an organization that brings the healing power of songs into the community. She also works as a consultant, teaching healthcare professionals about the impact music can have on a patient’s health and how to incorporate it into practice.
Q: How can music help patients?
A. Music is powerful in meeting goals in healthcare. Healthcare professionals and other caregivers find that the use of music can be a great coping mechanism for their clients and loved ones. (And for themselves!) Music is energizing and nurturing. It’s nonverbal and promotes a sense of well-being, control and decreased anxiety. Music has been shown to decrease blood pressure and pain, as well as enhance the immune system and memory.
Q. How have you combined music into your nursing practice?
A. I’m not a registered music therapist but have taken music therapy classes/workshops and used many facets of my nursing education using music as an intervention to meet healthcare goals. I’ve had opportunities to work with all ages using methods that are passive (making music available on CDs and videos) or active (interactive sessions). My nursing skills and medical knowledge have helped me relate to patients of all ages, including senior citizens in nursing /retirement facilities. I recently conducted a drumming demonstration/sing along with seniors who were able to experience the power of music.
Q. What advice do you have for other nurses who would like to use the power of music with their patients?
A. ALWAYS consider music as an intervention in meeting healthcare goals AND as a coping mechanism for yourself while working in this field of nursing and in life itself. Learn about different methods of using music in healthcare and how to involve the patient and his/her family/friends in finding music that will be most effective. Be flexible and aware of how the individual patient can be actively involved in the use of music in the healthcare plan. Research in the field of music and health should always be something nurses should follow so they are able to apply it to healthcare plans as well as share it will the patient’s family and support team. Be aware of most recent research in this field of music and healthcare and how to contact music therapist when you need advice on specific problems.
“Sharing the Journey”
Music and lyrics: Dianne Baker
Sharing the journey…lightens the load
Road is less bumpy and winding
Sharing the journey…brightens each day
And shows us all____the way.
Sharing the good times… sharing the fun
Sharing the troubles that we know
Sharing our feelings through music and song
Out of the valley when we’re low (refrain)
Coda: (special ending)
Shows us all the way… o’er the mountains
Shows us all the way… ‘cross the rivers
Shows us all the way…..’round the detours
Rit: Shows us all__the way____(spoken:“share the journey”)
(inspiration from children & parents at UM Mott Children’s Hospital) ©2002 Dianne Baker)