The greatest break from monotony

Image: Mark Edward Atkinson | Blend Images

I think everyone can agree that it is easy to get sucked into the monotony of a daily work routine. Morning assessments, AM meds, vitals, rounds, lunch, procedures, afternoon meds, vitals, etc.

Repeat next day.

At my hospital, come Tuesdays, all monotony and routine goes to the wayside thanks to a special group of “doctors” who are able to bring a smile to every child’s face. What type of doctor could possibly do this, you ask? The type that does “clown rounds.” The Clown Care team is composed of 97 specially trained artists nationwide that visit sick children and brighten their days with antics, jokes, singing, and more.

Scrubs recently posted an article that included a video of the founder of Clown Care speaking at a conference. His description of the program sounded just like the clowns that visit our floor. As I did my research, much to my delight and surprise I realized that our very own Dr. Pucci and his team is part of the Big Apple Circus’ Clown Care program that visits 18 pediatric hospitals around the country.

Take today for instance: I am sitting at the nurse’s station charting my morning assessments when I hear the faint sound of a banjo playing. Around the corner comes two people in white lab coats. As I look more closely though, I notice they have Rudolph-like red noses, abnormally large shoes, and the woman has pig-tails that curl up as if they’d been hairsprayed with concrete.

Ahhh, it must be Tuesday, my favorite day of the week.

The clowns very professionally ask the charge nurse for a list of patients that may need low stimulation, may be non-English speaking, or any other concerns. They then ask which patients would love some company, as they are sure to spend extra time with them. I watch curiously as they enter the room of a 14-year old patient who is developmentally delayed.

From the moment they walk (or stumble perhaps) in the door, I hear his giggles and can see his excitement. They proceed to make up a silly poem, draw a caricature, fall into the trashcan, and lock each other out of the room. One takes the alcohol foam container and writes Let Me In on the window causing a burst of laughter from inside the room. This same patient, who is frequently hospitalized with a chronic condition, just hours before told me that his favorite part of the week was when the clowns come to play. Next door is a chunky six-month old whose parents left for the morning hours. The clowns quietly enter the room, pull out the banjo, and sing a sweet melody as the baby watches in awe and wonder without making a peep. As the clowns make their rounds down the hall, bringing cheer to every room they visit, I can’t help but notice the amount of staff members that are smiling too.

I’ve always thought those clowns have the ideal job. What could be more rewarding than being the most looked-forward-to group of people in the hospital? Perhaps years down the road, a hiding innate talent for singing and improv jokes will reveal itself and I too can be a clown. For now though, I’ll just keep enjoying Tuesdays…

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