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The music and performance of rheumatology

By Niamh Quinlan - 21st Jun 2022


The intersection between rheumatology and music was covered at the ISR 2022 Spring Meeting by Dr Ronan Kavanagh, Consultant Rheumatologist at the Galway Clinic and Bon Secours Hospital, Galway, and a leading figure in the musical and arts arena. 

Drawing on his own experiences with music, and his treatment of musicians in his clinic, Dr Kavanagh focused on what rheumatologists can learn from musicians in expanding their view, as opposed to “what rheumatologists can do for musicians…”. 

Invoking the work of past musical geniuses, Dr Kavanagh spoke about finding “an authentic voice” and identity in working in rheumatology, looking after one’s own health as a physician, and knowing when to “leave gaps” and listen to the patient. 

“Medicine, as we practice it, as we think about it, is deeply informed by science, but it’s not contained by science,” Dr Kavanagh told the Medical Independent. “So if you look at medicine through the lens of science, and that’s all you do for your whole career, you can see how you might miss some of the magic. 

“So looking at medicine through the lens of musicianship and looking at medicine through the lens of it being a performance, just by looking at it with fresh eyes… certainly for me, brings it alive.”

Irish Society for Rheumatology, Spring Meeting, Sligo Park Hotel, 19-20 May 2022 

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