The Music of Medicine: Physician Playlists 2

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Sterile is the perfect word to describe how you want your physical surroundings when you’re seeing your doctor or having surgery. But it’s not the word you want to describe the mood.

Music helps doctors and their teams connect and create the right energy for getting their jobs done. A few months ago, some of our physicians shared their playlists and why they love listening to music while they work.

We asked a few more to share the songs they use to set the mood for great medicine.

Dr. Kelly Wright

Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery

Dr. Kelly Wright stands with hands on hips and headphones around her neck.

“It may surprise some that my surgery playlist and my running playlist are the same,” says Dr. Wright.

She’s a 9-time marathoner and one of the first 1,000 people in the world to complete the World Marathon Majors circuit, a series of the 6 most celebrated races in the world.

“I think surgery demands the same type of training that marathoning does: endurance, muscle memory, precision, and skill. A good playlist with a low, constant beat, minor tones, and a rising chorus keeps me focused on the long road (or surgery) ahead,” she says.

Many of her colleagues agree. More than one doctor we asked to share their playlist with us said they like to listen to Dr. Wright’s list on Spotify.

  • Honey — Robyn
  • Swish Swish — Katy Perry featuring Nicki Minaj
  • Feel the Love — Rudimental featuring John Newman
  • Warm — SG Lewis; “I love the dissonant piano chords overlaid with the bass. It has an unexpectedly driving beat. I would probably say that about all of the songs!”
  • Blame — Calvin Harris featuring John Newman
  • Paris — The Chainsmokers
  • What About Us — P!nk; “I love how P!nk’s powerful voice builds into the instrumental interlude. It’s inspiring!”
  • Secrets — OneRepublic

Dr. Azadeh Dashti

Supportive Care Medicine

“It’s really important for us, especially in supportive care, to process our emotions and to appreciate life,” Dr. Dashti says. “Music is like a conduit of human emotions and storytelling. It helps lift you up and helps you be present in the moment, which is crucial.”

Her playlist features an eclectic mix of music, including soul, classical, and international music.

  • Etude in D-Sharp Minor, Op.8, No. 12 — Alexander Scriabin (played by Vladimir Horowitz)
  • Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 — Franz Liszt
  • Feeling Good — Nina Simone
  • All These Things That I’ve Done — The Killers
  • Home Again — Michael Kiwanuka
  • Days Like This — Van Morrison
  • Est Tu Mirada — Leoni Torres
  • Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien — Édith Piaf

Dr. Allan Silberman

Surgical Oncology

Dr. Silberman brings a mix of familiar classic rock favorites to keep focused and moving while he works.

  • Walking in Memphis — Mark Cohn
  • Reasons — Earth, Wind & Fire
  • Miracles — Jefferson Starship
  • Magic Carpet Ride — Steppenwolf
  • Can’t You Hear Me Knocking — The Rolling Stones
  • Dancing in the Moonlight — King Harvest
  • Can You Do It — The Contours
  • Don’t Let Go — Roy Hamilton
  • Got To Give It Up — Marvin Gaye

Dr. Natasha Trentacosta

Orthopaedic Surgery

Dr. Trentacosta bravely sets her phone on shuffle and plays whatever songs come up.

“It’s something we used to do in residency,” she says. “I’ve learned to embrace my quirky, atypical-for-an-orthopaedic surgeon playlist.”

  • Juicy — Notorious B.I.G.
  • Green Light — John Legend featuring André 3000
  • I Want You Back — *NSync; “Back in residency, one of the chiefs told me before I hit play on my iPhone that he assumed it was going to be quintessential 90s pop music. I didn’t disappoint him.”
  • Run the World (Girls) — Beyoncé; “Pep song reminder for myself in such a male-dominated field.”
  • I’m Real — Jennifer Lopez featuring Ja Rule; “Pop songs invigorate me in the OR. Whether they are old or new, I want to—and sometimes do—belt out singing along.”

Dr. Karen Zaghiyan

Colorectal Surgery

Dr. Karen Zaghiyan, smiling with arms crossed and wearing headphones around her neck.

Music helps her team work efficiently, focus better, and feel more at ease, Dr. Zaghiyan says.

“I love having upbeat tunes that keep the tempo going,” she says.

She doesn’t tie herself down to any particular genre either.

  • Forgot About Dre — Dr. Dre featuring Eminem
  • Lose Yourself — Eminem
  • Levels — Avicii
  • Give Me Everything — Pitbull featuring Ne-Yo, Afrojack, and Nayer
  • Balada — Gustavo Lima featuring Dyland and Lenny
  • Another One Bites the Dust — Queen
  • Don’t Stop Believin’ — Journey
  • Viva la Vida — Coldplay

Dr. Anca Barbu


Dr. Anca Barbu in an exam room with headphones around her neck.

The human voice is an amazing instrument and one that is dear to Dr. Barbu. Singers from all over the world trust their voices to her when they need surgeries that could affect their vocal cords.

When she’s in the OR, it’s a team effort and that includes the music selection. She will frequently let her anesthesiologist pick the music.

“That’s what teamwork is all about,” she says.

  • Despacito — Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee
  • Titanium — David Guetta featuring Sia
  • Me Too — Meghan Trainor
  • Me Enamoré — Shakira
  • Home — Phillip Phillips
  • Set Fire to the Rain — Adele
  • Somewhere Over The Rainbow_What A Wonderful World — Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
  • Diamonds — Rihanna

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