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Hamilton Health Sciences Home
June 23, 2016

Introducing… a music therapist

Bonnie Brittain is a music therapist at McMaster Children’s Hospital.

Favourite colour: Blue or purple/ vacation spot: Scotland or visiting family/ music: too hard to decide! I just love music/ animal: my funny cat/ food: fresh fruit in the summer/ holiday: Christmas

Eplain your role at HHS?
I work with patients who are referred for music therapy during their stays as inpatients. I use music to relax patients, motivate them to move or sing, help them process their situation or diagnosis or just have fun. Parents and family are often involved and really enjoy seeing their child engage with music.

Tell us about your first day at HHS.
I was nervous, intimidated and excited. It was hard to suddenly be in a place with so many families that are in difficult situations. The first patient I ever met here tragically lost her battle with cancer the next week, so my first day has become a special memory of her.

What made you enter your field of work?
I like to think it was meant to be. I went to one of few schools that offers a music therapy program. I realized that my original intention of becoming a performer was not what I wanted and music therapy soon became my focus. From there, a lot of doors just opened up and I had generous mentors in Hamilton that led me to where I am today.

What do you love most about your job?
I love that I get to give my patients an experience that is so different from the medical procedures they go through in the hospital. I get to see them smile when they’re scared or fall asleep when they’re incredibly overtired.
I love that families allow me to join them in these sometimes scary hospital experiences by bringing music into the space.
I love when patients or parents tell me that seeing me made their day.
I love working with the staff at McMaster Children’s Hospital. It has been such a supportive environment.

Describe your most challenging days at work.
The most challenging day for me was when I learned that a patient I had been working with for a few months had died and another patient I had been seeing since her diagnosis wasn’t doing well. I felt very heavy. It is really hard to watch patients and families go through these emotional medical journeys.

What do you wish you had more time for at work?
I wish I had time to see even more patients. It is always hard prioritizing the referrals I receive and knowing I won’t have time to see everyone.

Tell us about your most gratifying experience at HHS.
My experience at McMaster Children’s Hospital has been really gratifying. It has been so supportive and so many staff have personally told me that they really appreciate the music therapy program being here. Staff members from many different disciplines have taken the time to tell me they see it making a difference. This makes everything so worthwhile!