Senior physician Thomas Michel, MD, PhD, and the housestaff on his cardiology service always provide outstanding clinical care to their patients. On Christmas, the team also sought to care for patients’ souls and lift their spirits on what can be a difficult day to spend in the hospital.
After completing rounds, the team rehearsed for 20 minutes and set out to sing carols and seasonal songs to their patients, with Michel playing the accordion. As the beautiful sounds of familiar melodies echoed throughout the hallways, requests for visits to other patient rooms and floors began to trickle in.
“Patients were moved by this touch of humanity that came into their rooms on Christmas Day,” Michel said. “Many of the patients had families visiting them for the holiday, and quite a few joined us in singing along.”
Michel, who began this tradition years ago at the VA Hospital where he previously worked, decided to start it at BWH this year and asked his residents if they would like to join him. They agreed enthusiastically, and it turned out that one of the residents, Yian Xiao, MD, MBA, was a singer, having been part of a Yale University a capella group.
For Michel, the tradition is about much more than the songs. “It speaks to the warm humanity that permeates the Brigham and the sense of community we have here,” he said. “It is also about being thoughtful clinicians and demonstrates the broad talents of our hard-working trainees.”
The caroling fostered camaraderie among staff throughout the Shapiro Center. Residents from different services chimed in for the songs, and ultimately formed connections with Michel that led to discussions about their academics. As Michel also focuses on research and teaching, he is not always on the units, and the caroling helped him bond with nurses he doesn’t often see. “It helped us develop an affinity,” he said.
The Cardiotonics, as the group calls itself, plan to continue this special tradition annually.