Musical Expressions: Finding Balance and Spreading Happiness Through Music
Fran Wakefield, CRNA, works with children of all ages who undergo surgery at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. A nurse anesthetist, she counsels patients and families before surgery, takes care of them in the operating room and helps them remain comfortable during recovery. She is challenged to come up with tailored strategies for each patient and family, whether they are undergoing a tonsillectomy at age 6 or a transplant at age 16. She admits her job can be stressful, especially when a family is anxious about a seriously ill child. For Wakefield, this is where music comes in.
“Health care workers do not give themselves enough credit for the stress involved in working at a hospital where people are scared and anxious,” says Wakefield, who has worked at UMHS for more than 10 years.
While walking from the OR with a family in 2000, Wakefield noticed a poster on the wall: A new orchestra was forming and looking for members. Growing up with parents who were both musicians, she had played the violin since age 5 and was inspired to dust it off and begin playing again. She joined the Life Sciences Orchestra and has been relieving stress with music ever since.
“Music makes people happy and provides a great outlet,” Wakefield says. “It is a way of expressing emotion in a different way. A composer does a beautiful job creating music and when the orchestra’s musicians get together to play, it’s like magic.”
The LSO is part of the Gifts of Art program, which brings the world of art and music to UMHS. The orchestra was founded to encourage collaboration, community and creativity beyond the traditional boundaries between academic disciplines in the basic sciences, health sciences, health care, engineering, social sciences and the humanities. Members have an outlet for their musical talents and a chance to interact with one another across academic disciplines and professions. They perform two free concerts each year at Hill Auditorium.
The LSO now has more than 70 members and Wakefield says it’s been fun to watch it grow. She also plays in the Adrian Symphony, a professional group that plays about six concerts a year, and the Dexter Community Orchestra, a new community group that meets and practices weekly at Dexter High School.
Music has offered Wakefield a sense of balance. She shares her professional talents with patients and families, offering solutions and comfort during the difficult process of a child undergoing surgery. She shares her musical talents to bond with colleagues who have similar interests and to make people happy with music.