Doha: At a live jazz event organised by Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Dr Stephen Scott, Associate Dean for Student Affairs, and artists from Jazz at Lincoln Center – Doha explored parallels between the art of jazz and the art of doctor-patient communication.
The ‘Jazz & the Art of Communication’ featured internationally renowned singer Gregory Generet, bassist Matthew Rybicki, pianist Takeshi Ohbayashi and drummer Shawn Baltazor, who played many pieces and engaged in a dialogue with Dr Scott on music, communication and medicine.
The event with an impressive audience was held at the Black Box Theatre at Hamad Bin Khalifa University Student Centre on April 2.
Dr Scott said: “When we as physicians speak with our patients, we have to be aware that communication involves more than simply the content of the words.
Body language, inflection, tone of voice and other cues have a great influence on what we hear, as well as the way our message is interpreted.
“When we play a song, we can interpret it in many ways. Each note I sing or that Takeshi or Matt plays can be sounded in a variety of ways.
“We can play fast or slow, we can make it strong or gentle, and Shawn can subtly change the rhythm. All the time we’re communicating with each other and communicating with the audience, and reacting to the feedback. “One key similarity is authenticity – if you put your true self into music, the audience is likely to react well to that. The same is true when you’re speaking to someone.”
Dr Scott said students and physicians develop their ‘voice,’ or ways of communicating with patients, and move beyond a rigid script.
“A script is a necessary starting point, but we need to be able to adapt in the moment and respond to our patients in ways that are more nuanced and intuitive than a script allows.” The 45-minute set finished with a question-answer session with the audience.
Ahmed Mushannen, first-year WCMC-Q medical student and Charlie Parker fan, said: “We are at the stage of our studies where we are just starting to interact with patients, so I gained some useful insights.
“I have read some of the attempts to create a formulaic approach to speaking with patients, but in the field I think you need to be able to react to the different ways of communicating of each individual patient, which probably comes with practice and by being willing to listen carefully to every patient and their needs.”