MedCurious Edition 4

| May 29, 2020

Welcome to the fourth MedCurious newsletter. Thanks for all the kind feedback on our first three editions. They are always fun to put together, and it’s nice to hear they are being enjoyed! We love including submissions from friends and followers, so please get in touch by email if you’ve written or created something worth sharing.

This time round, a physician examines the new musical soundtrack emerging in New York hospitals, a journalist remembers the words of Brian Eno as she recovers from cancer surgery, and we hear how the rise of technology in medicine is unlikely to replace the human touch.


Hospitals Turn To Music To Sing Patients Home

“When you work in a hospital you get used to the normal sounds. But over the past two months, the sounds have been different.”

Grace Farris is a hospitalist and cartoonist based in New York. Her ‘Dr. Mom’ cartoons, focusing on motherhood, health and medicine, are published in Annals of Internal Medicine. In this new graphic work, Grace explores the new role that music has been playing in American hospitals in 2020.

Perspective is a Funny Thing…

The two biggest things in life – love and death – happen to you no matter what you do.”

Una Mullally is an Irish journalist and writer. In this memorable piece from the Irish Times in 2015, Una writes lyrically about recovering in hospital after cancer surgery, where she recalls some wise words from Brian Eno.

Music Therapy

Chris Coffey, GP in Carlow, and his sister Laura, lecturer in health psychology in Maynooth, have been recording music as The Holy Roman Army for more than a decade. Their work blends samples, synths, vocals and guitar to create meditative and cinematic sounds. ‘One Atom’ is a rare example of their medical and artistic selves overlapping, with lines by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross sampled from a documentary about palliative care.

Night and Day 

“I don’t love hearing the beeping and the sonic hiccups of hospital machinery, but it is worse not to hear anything.”

Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet and writer from Ohio. ‘On Nighttime’ is a fantastic piece about the relationship between songs and memory. His description of nights in hospital will resonate with many.    

Have We Lost Track of the Human Agenda?

How do physicians remain relevant in a world characterised by artificial intelligence, new developments in technology, and the industrialisation of medicine? Bryan Vartabedian is a ‘gastroenterologist to small people’, and a writer and podcaster whose work covers the intersection of medicine, technology and culture. At last year’s dotMD meeting, he reassured us that human connection in medicine is here to stay.  

Our very own Muiris Houston also examined the future of artificial intelligence in medicine recently, and he reassured us that AI is unlikely to be coming for our jobs any time soon!

Tell Your COVID19 Story

“As we face down this pandemic, having an outlet for self-expression is more important than ever.”

Emily Silverman is a San Francisco doctor, writer, podcaster, and creator of The Nocturnists medical storytelling community. In recent months, she has started the COVID19 audio diary project, and so far over 200 healthcare workers across North America have signed up to keep an audio diary of their experiences. Selected clips are included in The Nocturnists podcast, and Emily would love to include some voices from Ireland. 

Written by

Ronan Kavanagh

Dr. Ronan Kavanagh is a Galway based rheumatologist and medical director of dotMD - A Festival of Medical Curiosity.


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