Magee’s Singing Program: Raising Morale for Patients and Staff

By: Taylor Andres and Amy Charley

When you walk through the inpatient oncology unit of Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, you might hear something unexpected. Follow the sound and you will come across a group of nurses dressed in headbands with flashing lights, bright hats and feather boas. While it may appear unusual, it is all part of a singing program that raises morale for patients and staff.

The inpatient oncology unit is not typically associated with smiles and booming laughter. The patients here are faced with serious diagnoses, painful procedures and possible complications. They cannot go home during chemotherapy treatments because they require constant monitoring.

Overall, the experience on this unit can be emotionally taxing for both the patients and staff involved. The nurses here sing to any patient in low spirits, those who have not had a visitor in a while or those who received a poor prognosis. They also celebrate a patient’s final round of chemo by performing ‘Hit the Road Jack.’ The cheerful survivors get to sing along with the nurses and ring the symbolic chemo bell in celebration of their departure.