Break a Leg in Medical School?


Bajar, Nathan. (2017). Retrieved from The New York Times

Yes, which is precisely what the student-run theater company at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons have been doing since the group was founded in 1967. Known as the Bard Hall Players, they remove their lab coats and surgical scrubs to unwind from their intense academic schedule by stretching their acting, dancing, and voice muscles to assume a different role on stage.

Sam Bruce, a fourth-year medical student and group member, enjoys the health benefits of creating and performing. He was mentioned in the New York Times Article, Scalpel, Sponge, Show Tunes: When Doctors Moonlight as Actors and said: “Medical school can be very stressful…You can’t go into a patient’s room and look like you’re having a bad day. You have to leave that all at the door” (Evans, 2017, p. AR6).

The benefits of Art Therapy have been debated for the past several years in scientific journals. There is extensive research showing that the creative arts such as painting, drawing, and sculpting  improve the overall quality of life for people who suffer from neurological disorders, cancer, anxiety or depression, and other debilitating diseases. In addition, research regarding the performing arts is also showing solid evidence of its therapeutic value.  Searching Performing Arts Therapy in our PubMed database and limiting it to Systematic Reviews in the last 5 years, yields over 130 results. This one in particular caught my eye.

Doctors who might not live with illnesses are discovering the value of various art forms in both their personal and professional lives. Medical students see this creative expression as a “way to relieve stress” (Evans, 2017, p. AR6). One fourth year student spoke to this point:

“You get time to dive into the human experience…What do these characters represent? What do they go through? And a lot of times, you need to put yourself in the shoes of patients. It keeps you grounded in the human experience” (Evans, 2017, p. AR6).

There is a lot of talent here at New York Medical College as seen in several groups that nurture the expressive side; an Art Club as well as a few a capella groups: Perhaps there is room to stretch those creative muscles even further to include some character development on stage.


And remember:

The Health Sciences Library has The New York Times in print and online so you can read Suzy Evans’ article and others of importance whenever you like. These simple instructions show you how to access

Break a leg.