November Monthly Theme – Jaclyn Ford Interview

Welcome to November, everyone!

As we know, with a new month, comes a new theme!  This month’s theme is “Hospice,” as November is National Hospice Month!

And to put a unique spin on this month, Catherine and  I have both interviewed 2 individuals each!  All four of our lovely interviewees are music therapy students who have graduated and are working towards their internship, or in the middle of their internship, or have recently completed their internship!

Each week, we will be delving into their unique perspective as they have successfully completed their degree programs, but have not received their MT-BC’s yet.   You will see what music they use with this population, and what books and resources they have found useful during this time in their practice of music therapy.  With each interview, we will also share that person’s Top 5 songs for use in hospice, and any resources they have found helpful during their internship!

This week, I am sharing with you all a conversation that I had with Jaclyn Ford, a music therapy graduate of Baldwin Wallace University.

Jaclyn Ford
Jaclyn is an energetic, positive, and compassionate woman.  It was so fun to speak with her via Google Hangout last week about her experiences as a music therapy student, and her strategies for preparing for her internship!  Jaclyn will start her internship in the new year.  In the meantime, she has been working and saving up money to support herself through the internship experience!

Jaclyn attended Baldwin Wallace University.  When she was deciding upon which university she would go to Jaclyn said, “Baldwin Wallace felt like home.”

Rather than having a professor assign practicum placements, BW students are entrusted to find their own placements and schedule them on their own based on their interests, or their needs.  Music therapy students are given a list of facilities that they can contact to set up practicum experiences.  Jaclyn found that this responsibility helped her build confidence in herself as a professional.

While at BW, Jaclyn had many practicum experiences.  She discovered early on that hospice was an area within the field that excited her.  She shared with me that she lost her father when she was 14 years old.  Jaclyn was unsure if working in hospice would be emotionally difficult for her.  Working hospice did bring up memories.  But overall, Jaclyn told me, “It was perfect!”  Hospice was natural for Jaclyn.

Jaclyn had an amazing opportunity to go to Germany with Dr. Keith for the World Congress of Music Therapy.  There were 5 different universities that were represented on this study abroad experience.  Jaclyn explained that this was a formative experience for her, “Each university knew more about different parts of music therapy.”  Her respect for her colleagues was apparent while talking about this trip.   While working with other music therapy students from other universities, states, and even countries, Jaclyn became more informed about music therapy globally, not just how we define and use that term in America.

Common Misconceptions about Hospice:
I asked Jaclyn about some common misconceptions that she has encountered when talking about hospice with others.  Here are some Myths/beliefs that she has heard about hospice, and the truth that she came to know through her experience in hospice.
Myth: When someone goes to hospice, they die faster.
Truth: Hospice provides comfort that individuals need during this stage of life.  For example, Malachi House (Cleveland), where Jaclyn did her practicum, they placed a white sheet and a red rose on the bed of the deceased and created a space for remembrance that anyone could go and pay their respects to that patient.
Myth: Hospice is a really sad place.
Truth: People find humor, happiness, and life there, regardless.
Myth: There is no beauty in hospice.
Truth: “There was a lot more beauty and respect than you would expect.”  Jaclyn found that time seemed to slow while she was working with patients in hospice.  Creating music with them was a deeply beautiful shared experience.  Jaclyn finished stating, “I don’t know how I wouldn’t do [music therapy]. ”

I asked Jaclyn what advice she would give to a student music therapist thinking of going into hospice, and a music therapist who hasn’t worked in hospice, but perhaps has an interest.  She had these pearls of wisdom to share:

Go and seek an emotional outlet, friend, counselor. . .  You will go through a lot of emotional changes when you first start.

Learn to cope with death, and see the beauty rather than the sadness.

Always respect client’s wishes, because you are being welcomed into their life.

I asked Jaclyn if she would share what resources she has been reading and has found helpful in her preparation for her internship:
Kubler-Ross, Elizabeth. (1969) On death and dying. New York, The Macmillian Company.
Jaclyn explained to me that the book is from the client’s perspective, which she found to be so valuable.
Trainor, Kevin. (2001) Buddhism: The illustrated guide. Duncan Baird Publishers.
Jaclyn informed me that she found the history of Buddhism to be greatly beneficial to her practice as a music therapist.
Callanan, M., Kelley, P. (2012) Final gifts: Understanding the special awareness, needs, and communications of the dying.  Simon & Schuster.
Jaclyn found this book to provide her with a better understanding of a nurse’s prospective of hospice.

And last, but certainly not least, is Jaclyn’s Top 5 songs for Hospice!!
1.) Country Roads – John Denver
2.) Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles
3.) Moon River – Mancini+Mercer
4.) Amazing Grace
5.) Death by Numbers – Noah + the Whale

Thank you, Jaclyn, for your time, and for sharing your music therapy journey with us!  I for one, can’t wait to get my hands on some of those books! 🙂

Have a great week, everybody!


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