Radio show for health care workers aired in a year with plans for more

She wakes up to a pitch black sky hours before arriving at the cancer center. By the time she puts on her scrubs, goes to work, and reaches for the radio dial, the sun still hasn’t risen.

For Danielle Obermeier, clinical leader and registered nurse at University of Florida Health Shands Hospital, the workday starts with the sound of 6 a.m. Shift Change Radio Hour.

He’s just one of the tens to hundreds of medical workers he visits weekly. This support led the radio show, which was created for health care professionals like her, to celebrate one year in October.

shift changeUF Shands Arts in Medicine program, a one-hour broadcast dedicated to uplifting Gainesville health care workers and the Shands Hospital community through music.

Pre-recorded and hosted by various Shands artists in residence, the show airs Wednesday mornings and evenings from 6 to 7 on Gainesville’s WMBT-FM.

It plays during hospital shift hours, host Andrew Hicks explained.

Hicks, Integrative Therapy Practitioner and Shands Writer in Residence, coproduces shift change Shand in residence with musician Michael Claytor. Throughout the hour, song requests, shoutouts, patient testimonials, musical performances and guest DJs from the two spotlight activists.

“It’s a platform for all kinds of storytelling related to the arts and health,” Claytor said.

After broadcast, each episode is archived online, making it available for anyone to listen to.

The show drives itself, Hicks said, thanks to the artistic contributions and involvement of its intended audience, patients and staff.

Its main fuel is “powerful moments of verbal sharing”.

Hicks and Claytor Shands emphasize community engagement by collecting requests directly from nurse stations and working with the hospital’s on-air guests to write and perform music.

Hicks said that promoting their voices encourages others to participate, a ripple effect that creates more community, connections, and art.

“What we once thought might go away after a few weeks is like an engine for making art in the hospital.”

Claytor said he started the project to create “a sustainable way to give back to health care workers” in Gainesville during the COVID-19 pandemic.

One year later – and with no plans to stop – the show is an important reminder of the gratitude that is still needed.

According to New York Times data, Florida saw its highest average COVID death rate in September 2021 and peaked in average cases and daily hospital admissions the following January.

As the nation pushes towards a new normal in 55 episodes shift change premiere, the public’s concern for COVID subsided.

Obermeier said the longer the pandemic lasted, the appreciation for medical personnel waned.

But the daily labor of health workers remains unrelenting. And so does the show of appreciation for the radio show.

“It’s a great outlet to remember that we love—and we’re shouting it from the rooftops via radio waves,” Obermeier said.

shift change gives listeners the unique opportunity to hear themselves on the air, whether by curating personally meaningful songs for the “Music As Medicine” segment or by performing original music and poetry.

“People want to tell their stories,” Claytor said.

Obermayer said hearing those stories brought tears to his eyes. She has since asked Hicks for posters and stickers to help promote the show.

Claytor said, “The more voices the show has, the better.”

The Radio Hour provides a forum for the diversity and longevity of interpersonal relationships within the hospital, demonstrated by guests such as Betsy Fisher, the mother of a former Shands patient.

Fisher, 60, grew close to Shand’s Arts on the medicine staff during four years of her son Marshall’s treatment for lung cancer. He passed away in 2018.

She said she first realized the importance of the arts in therapy program through the solace she provided her son.

Eight years later, the Shands community is still there for her in the form of bereaved parents.

Fischer worked with Hicks for months on the phone to rewrite journal entries about her time with her son into poems, then two songs.

He did the show on air in December 2021 and July. She said that the show helped her not only reignite her love of songwriting and guitar playing, but also “process grief in different ways creatively”.

“It really is the gift that keeps on giving.”

for Claytor and Hicks, shift change has endured as a testament to the community – Hicks called it “part of the fabric of living in Gainesville”.

Audiences can expect the show to keep celebrating the annual anniversary, even if the pressure on health care workers suddenly comes to an end.

“Zero COVID cases, it will still have a really powerful role, now that we know what it’s capable of.”

Copyright 2022 Health News Florida

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