Sunday, August 12, 2007

Bring In The Clowns...

This latest blog posts are inspired by my muse, my husband, who is currently on assignment in Addis Ababa, Ethopia. While reading a paper, he came across an article with the term 'medical clowning' in and he thought, at first, that it was must be a typo in the newspaper. But, in fact, the article was about how medical clowns are volunteers who visit hospital wards and are trained to help patients laugh in order to help them heal. Using their creativity and good heartedness, the clowns juggle, make balloon animals, do origami, spin plates and will stand on their heads, if necessary, to put a smile on the faces of those who are ill.

But it's not all fun and laughs -- University of Haifa is taking this issue very seriously by introducing Israel's first degree program - and perhaps the only degree in the world - in medical clowning. The degree program is a special, one-year BA degree program, which is intended to contribute to the "academization of the field" of medical clowning.

Hmmm, I wonder how a medical clowning course, as an elective, would fare in one of the latest bioethics program... after all, laughter is the best medicine, isn't it?


David Hunter said...

The temptation to say something sarky like "aren't bioethicists naturals?" or "They are already here" is overwhelming, but I guess because I am a bioethicist, I ought to restrain myself. That said when I was studying philosophy and teaching for the first time, I actually did an improvised comedy course, because I felt the skills it emphasised, actually were similar to those you need in the classroom, so perhaps the suggestion has more merit than one can see, on the probably pie-covered face of it.

CarroTop Rainbo said...

Your "Bring in the Clowns" post caught this clown's eye, Linda! I have read about for-credit and/or degree programs you reference in other countries. In the US, hospital clowning or caring clowning has been underway sort of ad hoc, by various dedicated folk in the last 30+ years. Our hospital group -- Charlie's Chaplains is a troupe of volunteers doing this important work since 1991 at FRMC in Hickory, NC. We offer special training each year. At Skool '07 in September, we are offering a special Pre-Skool session on setting up caring clown groups at hospitals. Registration is open to encourage more groups being established throughout the country.

Charlie's Chaplains' Skool '07 details:

Kelly Hills said...

Heh, I've often commented that my improv background has served me far, far better in both teaching and clinical ethics than any classroom studies I've received.

More to the point, though, this reminds me both of the laughter/pain management study my sister is working on, which looks at alternative therapies to control pain in patients (laughter, massage, etc), as well at the rather infamous Patch Adams and his gesundheit institute.