Hey Musicians! Hope you are all having a great November so far! To start off, I’m going to provide a bit of recap from last week in case you missed it.
This month our focus population is Hospice because November is National Hospice Month. And it just so happens that there are several graduates from our Alma Mater (Baldwin Wallace University) who are interning with Hospices around the country. Upon realizing this, we decided we couldn’t just pick one person to interview for the month, so we are doing a BW grad check in, so to speak, and taking a look at Hospice from a different Intern’s perspective each week.
My interviewee this week is a very motivated and driven young woman who is taking control of her career without hesitation.
Hannah Gadzinski, from Cleveland Ohio, graduated the Music Therapy program at BW Spring 2015 and promptly started her internship at Seasons Hospice in Boston MA under primary supervision of Leanne McMarrow, MT-BC. She is scheduled to finish on November 20th, then starting her new job in Cleveland in December! “Some time between there I will be taking my exam” Hannah added in a confident manner.
I talked with Hannah about how she prepared to work with the Hospice population and how she transitioned between the roles of student and intern. Her approach came across as very level headed and thorough to me. Having never worked with Hospice before, she spent her last semester in college regularly shadowing a Music Therapist at Hospice of the Western Reserve, acquiring insight into sessions as well as interdisciplinary meetings and treatment planning. “It was a good introduction to Hospice for me.” Starting her internship, Hannah expected the experience to be like a first real job, with a lot of shadowing at first, then transitioning to being a professional Music Therapist. Hannah identified the therapeutic approach of her supervisors as a mix of many Music Therapy methods. “Many of our patients have an alzheimers/dementia diagnosis, so a lot of time we are using singing, active listening to music, reminiscing with music, etc. My supervisor has a humanistic holistic approach, going in and meeting the patient where they are.” Interpersonal communication is a skill that Hannah has identified as a personal and professional strength which developed working with this population. “I am able to meet the client where they are and communicate while easing the awkwardness of the dieing process.” This is a very important skill when working with Hospice, as there are oftentimes family members and/or friends present who are uncomfortable with their loved one transitioning to the end of life.
I asked Hannah to identify some personal weaknesses that have presented challenges to her. “Overthinking everything I do can be a weakness. It is challenging not having a set session plan and be able to provide what the patient needs at the present moment. I had to work very hard on memorizing music throughout the internship.” Memorizing music is definitely a skill that will follow her into her professional career. One that many people continue to struggle with. (Hint: we kind of feel like our blog can assist with that) Speaking of repertoire, here is Hannah’s Top 10 favorite songs to use in Hospice
1. I’ll Be Loving You, Always
2. Bicycle Built For Two (Daisy Bell)
3. Somewhere Over the Rainbow
4. Amazing Grace
5. Oh What A Beautiful Morning
6. Fly Me to the Moon
7. What a Wonderful World
8. Let Me Call You Sweetheart
9. Ain’t She Sweet
10. In The Garden
As we mentioned earlier, the internship is about transitioning from a student to a capable and competent professional. I asked Hannah if she experienced a defining moment which provided her first confidence as a professional music therapist. She described to me a scene where she was working with a child with developmental disabilities and having difficulty reaching her. In the middle of the session, she had an idea to meet her client where she was by manipulating components of the music she was playing. She went with her therapeutic and musical instinct and ended up providing a highly successful experience for her client. Another music therapist happened to be observing that day and witnessed the major turning point in the session. “It made me realize that I don’t need to overthink everything. I have musical and therapeutic skills and I can trust my instincts.” This is the biggest advice she wants share with other students/interns/young professionals.
As far as the unique population of Hospice, here are some points that surprised Hannah at the beginning:
“People expect Hospice to be the last weeks/days of life. But a majority of my patients are in Nursing homes, still participating in their communities. My perspective had to adjust to that.” The qualifications necessary for being on Hospice care includes a medical statement that the patient has 6 months or less to live. Many conditions that require Hospice can last longer than that time, in which case a Doctor must review the case every 6 months and note whether there has been decline. Therefore, as Hannah pointed out, there are many people who remain on Hospice for a number of years rather than weeks or days before their end of life transition.
Along the same lines, Hannah noted that it was surprising to adjust to the unique approach to documentation. Since patients have to continue to portray decline in order to remain on Hospice services, the professionals providing services have to document decline in session notes. This takes some getting used to since we are drawn to providing documentation that our services are working for the health of our patients.
Hannah’s overall experience with Hospice has been a positive one, however her new job will be mainly working with children with Autism. “I have considered volunteering with Hospice, because I think I will miss it.” If you thrive when working in Hospice, you have a heart for end of life care and it is difficult to think of not returning to that kind of work.
I was very fortunate to reach Hannah for our phone interview as she is very busy this month. In the final days of internship, she is preparing to present her final project, undergoing termination with clients, working out logistics to move back to Cleveland (hoping the snow doesn’t come till she leaves), reviewing for the certification exam, and learning children’s repertoire to prepare for her new job. I am amazed by her drive and motivation, Hannah is definitely a value to our profession and I can’t wait to see where her career will take her.
A few last words of advice from our Intern of the week: “Learn more music and work to memorize the music because then you can focus more on the therapeutic aspects of the session. Trust your instinct and your education, while being open to other techniques or methods of approaching therapy with your population.”