Medical students from OUWB deliver big dose of holiday cheer to local hospital
An image of students who sang at Beaumont
Students who sang at Corewell Health William Beaumont University Hospital in Royal Oak on Dec. 2, 2022, take a brief moment to pose for a photo prior to their performance.

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

The event was led by OUWB student organization 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 revelers aimed to brighten the spirits of patients on the hospital’s physical medicine and rehabilitation unit. They sang the songs twice, in two different locations on the PM&R unit to reach as many people as possible.

Doctors, nurses, hospital staff, patients, and visitors were all smiles as the OUWB students performed in what has become an especially meaningful experience for the future physicians.

“We get so lost in the books sometimes… but at the end of the day, if you can’t communicate and interact very well and form bonds with others, are you doing the best that you can?” said Chance Stevenson, M2, vice president, DocApella.

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

David Howell, M2, president of DocApella. said “it’s all about taking a break from studying and connecting with people.”

“I’ve already seen that in our rehearsals…people talking with each other, catching up, trying new chords and new riffs,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about…a space to try new things.”

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

An image of students singing at Beaumont
Medical students sing at Beaumont on Dec. 2, 2022.

Songs included newer options like Last Christmas, and Winter White Hymnal (by Fleet Foxes), along with traditional favorites like Frosty the Snowman, Jingle Bell Rock, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and more.

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

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

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

Other performers shared sentiments similar to Howell and Stevenson.

M2 Cullen Woodley said he enjoyed taking a break from studying to help bring some cheer to the hospital. He brought the cajon drum 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 of working in hospitals…this is a great opportunity to help cheer up spirits and help make it feel a little homier.”

M1 Priya Razdan played ukulele with the group.

“It’s really important that aside from medicine, we get into the community,” she said. “As an M1, I can’t do much in the hospital just yet, but I do know music and I can help patients that way.”

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

“It’s a nice relaxed setting,” she said. “It also helps keep things in perspective…you come here and you’re like, ‘Ah, this is why I’m here.’”

Lauren Rutt, a recreational therapist on the PM&R floor, said such performances mean a lot to all who are able to hear them.

“It just brings so much joy to our hearts,” she said. “A lot of our patients are hoping to be going home by Christmas, so this brings that joy of hope for them.”

Rutt said the patients also help the students in a way.

“As medical students, they come in a reach out to the patients, and in turn, the patients help push them forward in their education, too,” she added.   

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at [email protected].

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

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