We have all heard the old saying that laughter is the best medicine. But does laughter help our students learn? Is laughter appropriate while they are out in the hospitals on a practical experience? I believe that laughter CAN help students learn, and is even sometimes appropriate within the healthcare setting.
My vet once told me I should bring my dog in to the office for a ‘visit’ even when we had no appointment or purpose for doing so. In fact, she keeps treats on the counter for just such visits. This allows the dog to feel more relaxed when she HAS to go there, because she doesn’t just associate the office with bad experiences. Brilliant right? Well, the healthcare teaching environment (or any teaching environment for that matter) should be no different. Our students are expected to diligently study and learn hundreds of medical terms, drugs and policies and procedures. This can become a little dry at times for the student and where is the ‘treat’. Same goes for hospitals. People associate them with only negative experiences. Our students can help to change this if we teach them where respectful humor is appropriate.
Laughter can relax you, boosts the immune system and triggers the release of endorphins. By teaching our future healthcare providers to use appropriate humor; and by using it ourselves in the classroom; it gives students an effective behaviour to model in their practical experience and in the workplace. Medicine is serious business, and there isn’t a lot of time to laugh, but when those moments present themselves they can leave a lasting positive impression about the healthcare environment on patients, visitors and staff.
What are you waiting for? Take your medicine and laugh a little, I have to take my dog to the vet for a treat.