The Medical Musician Initiative

Medical Musician Workshops

Berkshire Medical Center Campus

In July 2017 we presented our first Medicine For Musicians  workshop - developed by the co-founders of the Medical Musician Initiative, Dr. Marvin A. McMillen and guitarist Andrew Schulman. The workshop was presented in association with Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, MA. Our second annual Medicine For Musicians workshop will take place at Berkshire Medical Center on July 23-27, 2018.


The workshop involves morning lectures given by attending physicians from various medical departments, and hands on training in the afternoon in the hospital's Critical Care Unit (CCU). In order for a musician to successfully integrate into the medical team of a critical care unit it is vitally important to have a solid familiarity with the day-to-day care that takes place in the unit. 


Berkshire Medical Center (photo of the main campus), a teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School and ranked in the top 5% of hospitals in the U.S., is located near some of the great arts centers in the country: Tanglewood - summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, and Shakespeare & Company, among others.


Medicine for Musicians Course

- Integrating Musicians into the Perioperative & ICU Care Team -


Medical faculty team from Berkshire Medical Center - Departments of Surgery, Critical Care, Integrative Medicine, Oncology, Colorectal Surgery, Nephrology, Neurology, Psychiatry, and Nursing.


Sample of 2018 Lectures: 

-  What Is a Medical Musician? A Storyteller/Travel Agent. Andrew Schulman, CMM

-  How does tissue injury & pain lead to surgical ‘stress’ and the ‘stress response to surgery and trauma?’ Marvin A. McMillen,  M.D., FACS, MACP

- What is shock, sepsis and multiple organ failure?  An introduction to Abdominal Surgery. McMillen

- Resilience, Empathy and Compassion: Tools for Medical Musicians. Rev. Mary O’Malley M.D., Ph.D

- Introduction to the Emergency Department: Discussion of workload, emergencies, patient anxiety, impatience, and waiting room issues. Michael McHugh & Peter Fishman M.D., FACEP 

-  Body Image, Disfigurement & Uncertainty in Cancer Care. Marcella Bradway M.D., FASCRS 

- Life disruption and frustration with trauma - differences between the young and the old. Joseph Pfeifer, M.D., FACS 

-  Spiritual rediscovery in the context of serious/critical surgical illness and trauma. Mary O’Malley, M.D., and Marvin A. McMillen, M.D. 

- The Program For Music: the Arts and Humanities program at Georgetown University Hospital/Medstar. Julia Langley M.A., Program Director 

- What is Perioperative Delirium and ICU Psychosis? McMillen

- Introduction to Dialysis Units and Patients. Gail Puntin, LCSW, David Henner, DO, Nephrologist 

- Community Health Initiatives and the role of music in coping and recovering with serious illness. Mark Pettus M.D., FACP, Associate Dean, University of Massachusetts, School of Medicine 

- How important is the healing environment to a good surgical outcome and recovery? Outcomes: tools and studies. McMillen



The Music:

Patients' bedside tutorials in ICU, Recovery Room, and Dialysis Unit - Workshop participants will go to patients ICU bedsides each afternoon for medical music sessions with Andrew Schulman, under the supervision of the medical team. They will learn how to introduce themselves to patients/family/friends/staff, how to identify patient/family/friends/staff needs, learn how to understand and help with patient/family/friends uncertainty, confusion, emotion, and grief, and learn how to explore the patient/family/friends musical history and “find the right musical prescription”.


If musicians are familiar with the normal processes of ICU care and see the ICU as an environment of hope and healing, they will be  better prepared to play their best for the patient, family, friends, and the medical staff.


Interested musicians or ICU physician/nursing sponsors please contact:  


Dr. Marvin A. McMillen

Chief of Perioperative Care

Berkshire Medical Center

725 North Street, Pittsfield, MA 01201

mmcmillen@bhs1.org or 413-447-2745