Musical Medicine: Are You Using Music Therapy?

An abundance of research confirms the profound value of music toward improving both quality of life and patient outcomes in healthcare settings. And while nearly a million patients at 26,000 healthcare facilities around the country benefit from formal music therapy programs, nurses can also harness music’s immense potential to improve both the patient experience and clinical outcomes. Let’s take a closer look at music therapy, along with how travel nurses can incorporate music therapy into their practices.

What is Music Therapy?

The American Music Therapy Association defines music therapy as “the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.” And while music therapy in its most formal sense must be performed by credentialed music therapists, patients stand to benefit from nurse-administered, non-clinical music therapy, as well.

Just how promising is music therapy when incorporated into the healthcare setting? Research recently published in The Lancet indicates that music has the ability to reduce both pain and anxiety following surgery, while the results of a different study published in The Journal of Clinical Oncology reveal that “including music therapy as a complementary modality with cancer surgery may help manage preoperative anxiety in a way that is safe, effective, time-efficient, and enjoyable.”

Additionally, from the very young to the very old, music therapy offers powerful benefits including stress reduction, improved cognitive function, mood elevation, and more coordinated motor movements.

Nurses and Music Therapy

While nurses may not be formally trained music therapists, they can still offer the benefits of music medicine to their patients. One potent intervention used by many nurses? Music listening. In fact, according to research published in the journal, Holistic Nursing Practice, playing music for patients has been shown to be a valuable tool for nurses toward “creating a healing environment to promote health and well-being.”

But the benefits of music therapy aren’t limited to patients. In fact, music therapy — along with other stress reduction techniques such as Feng Shui, massage, mindfulness meditation, and healing touch — has been identified as a form of self-care for nurses, according to research published in The Online Journal of issues in Nursing.

The takeaway? Travel nurses not only have the opportunity to integrate music into their own practices, but also to share its value throughout their travels. Even better? In applying the principles of music medicine to their own busy lives, travel nurses can also reap blissful benefits of their own.

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