Getting to know Andrew Barchus

Name: Andrew Barchus

Title: Nurse Practitioner; NP-C
Infectious Diseases

Education:

  • The Ohio State University, Master of Science
  • The Ohio State University, Master of Fine Art, Printmaking
  • Spring Arbor University, Bachelor of Art, Printmaking and Drawing focus
What motivated you to choose the medical profession?

While studying art in undergraduate and graduate school, I had conceptions that I might enjoy the medical field. I took some nursing perquisites while in undergraduate studies, which primed me for entering a nursing program in 2007. Even prior to starting the nursing portion of my education I knew I wanted to work in the Infectious Diseases field.

What is a typical day like for you?

I spend time caring for people in my clinic and then will see the hospitalized patients as well.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your work?

Every day presents its own set of challenges, but I work with a wonderful staff that always amaze me with creative and innovative solutions.

When and how did music become part of the care you give?

Over the years I’d considered ways to make the waiting period in our exam rooms less a drudgery for patients. I personally feel waiting and quiet can have a therapeutic effect, but not everyone feels this way. I had thought that having something interactive in exam rooms might actually change the experience from a negative one to a positive one. So with that in mind, I looked for something I knew would be relatable for patients that I could connect to as well. Music seemed to be a good fit for this setting. Of course not everyone can play an instrument, but everyone listens to music at some point in their life. I never really acted on this idea and sat on it for well over a year.

The guitar you see in the video was actually a gift from a gentleman I had the privilege of taking care of over the last year. I had the opportunity to chat about some of his interests and it quickly became clear that playing music was a common interest. I did share with him my idea of hanging instruments as artwork in the exam rooms and as a fellow player he thought it was a decent idea. That really was a passing conversation and didn’t resurface over the next months of our visits. That is until his last appointment, when he came in carrying two guitar cases. The first was a beautiful guitar from his collection which numbered nearly 30-40 instruments. As I handed the guitar back to him he said “and here’s yours.” I was, of course, speechless as he reminded me of our conversation of hanging instruments along the walls in the clinic.

This is the story of how all of this got started. What began as a way to mitigate the frustration of wait times in my office has become a really enriching part of some of my patient interactions. It really needs to be said that through the generosity of this patient, music has become a tangible part of visits in our clinic.

How do you incorporate music into treating patients?

I really try to let it flow naturally. The guitar we have hanging in our exam room sometimes just melds into the background, but other times people see it and they comment on it. I don’t go out of my way to incorporate it unless someone asks. Not everyone is in a place for this kind of musical interaction, but I tend to follow the lead of the person I’m with.

Can you share a story about a memorable experience you had playing for a patient?

There have been so many meaningful moments and some memories come from people playing for me. But one story that sticks out is from a gentleman who played guitar in several bands over the years. He had lost his ability to play due to weakness in his hands as a result of his illness. We had the opportunity to do a song together and while he could not play the instrument, he was able to sing along.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

Prior to entering the nursing field I had spent much of my time as a visual artist. I have a graduate degree from The Ohio State University in Printmaking. While I have not spent much time over the last several years making artwork, I am taking steps to reintroduce this rhythm into my life.

 If you could tell people to read one book in their lifetime, which would it be?

“The Immortal Diamond” by Richard Rohr

 

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