By Henry Chen, HBSc, MSc, MD

Henry completed his HBSc in Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology and his MSc in Nephrology at the University of Toronto (2010 and 2012, respectively). He then completed his MD from the same institution (Class of 2016), followed by Family Medicine residency at Queen’s University (Class of 2018), where he currently works as a Family Physician and a Coroner. He enjoyed playing music in his spare time and helped start Mount Sinai Minstrels – a volunteer musician program at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.

As a pre-med student, I was looking for meaningful hospital-based volunteer positions. Fortuitously, I met a student at a pre-med club who introduced me to the volunteer coordinator at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Canada. With time, I was able to recruit some friends from the Hart House Symphonic Band (where I was a flutist) and the Hart House Chamber Strings in Toronto. Together, the Mount Sinai Minstrels was born.

I am often asked if I still have time to play music during medical school. The answer is yes! Performing has always been an activity that I deeply enjoyed. Despite the academic demands of medical school, I always find time to play music as a way to relieve stress. In fact, I continued to perform at hospitals and soup kitchens. I also enjoyed playing music with other talented medical and allied health professional students in Daffydil, an annual charity musical show put on by students in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. This is also an opportunity to meet many future colleagues in a non-academic setting.

I am a firm believer that music is therapeutic for patients. I cannot count the number of times that patients expressed how our music has brightened up their day. This is more than enough motivation for me to continue caring through the power of music.

Over the years, we have expanded from a team of seven members to over twenty. Our monthly mini-concerts now occur bi-weekly, and we are occasionally invited to play at other hospitals, as well. I still remember when we received a brand new piano donated from the community. We hope to continue to give back to the community for many years.

This experience is incredibly rewarding. You can seek other meaningful volunteering opportunities that demonstrate your unique passion and interests.

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