[Editor’s Note: This is the second in a two-part series about how some physicians play in part-time bands as a way to cope with the stress of physician burnout and give back to the community.]
As physicians, we aren’t too good at taking care of ourselves, says Jeff Jones, MD.
“We’re always giving, giving, giving,” he says. “We’re up all night, not resting, not taking vacations. We need to do more to take care of ourselves.”
|photo courtesy of DNR|
Practicing medicine is a noble profession but being a physician can make for stress-filled, high-pressure, and even depressing days. Jones says finding a hobby or indulging in another passion can have tremendous impact on your mental health — and consequently on your job performance.
Jones co-founded the cover band DNR (for “Do not resuscitate,” naturally) with Vincent Nicolais, MD, an intensivist. Jones plays lead guitar in the band, which is comprised of 12 physicians and one musician with a PhD from Columbus, Ga. The band plays songs from every genre (except rap) and every decade from the 1950s onward.
These physicians are taking a beat away from the daily grind, finding release through music, and forming strong relationships while performing in front of friends and strangers.
“Music is a great outlet for the stress we’re under as physicians in this changing world,” Jones says. “This is one of the things I can do to take care of myself because it really helps me unwind. It’s medicine for me.”
Jeff Jones, guitar virtuoso
As a teenager, Jones was likely to be seen with a bass guitar in one hand and a medical bag in the other.
His mother was a choir director and voice and piano teacher, so he started piano lessons at age 6. He was playing bass guitar in a band by 12. A music career beckoned.
His grandparents, meanwhile, encouraged him toward a career in medicine. He found that option — that chance to help others — attractive, too.
Jones played in several more bands, including one, Silas, that he played in during college that he was convinced was going to “make it.”
“That band had some super musicians, and we wrote all our own music,” he says. “For years, we were traveling all over, playing in various states.”
But the band never got the break it needed. It never even cut a record. Its members, including Jones, got married. Maintaining the band became too expensive. During Jones’ first year in graduate school, the band broke up.
That’s when his wife, Lynn, told him, “Look, you need to do what you’ve always wanted to do. It’s time.” She was referring to his interest in a becoming a physician. So, he applied to the University of South Carolina School of Medicine.
After completing his residency in 1986, Jones became a family physician and board-approved addiction medicine specialist. He now practices at Midtown Family Medicine and is medical director of Talbott Recovery Columbus.
He still had his guitar with him at all times, but when he entered medical school, Jones left the bands behind. Or so he thought.