True Blue: The Singing Doctor Adam J. Schow - Y Magazine
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True Blue

The Singing Doctor

Doctor Adam J. Schow singing to a patient.
Anesthesiologist Adam Schow has taken to singing silly songs to help put his young patients at ease. Photo by Bradley Slade (patient posed by a model).

“My first job for a family is to make sure their child is safe. My second job after that, though, is to make the experience as pleasant as possible for that child,” says pediatric anesthesiologist Adam J. Schow (BA ’95). His medical training takes care of the first job, his voice the second. It’s why he’s known as “the singing doctor.”

Ever since Schow finished residency and started working at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, he has tried to find creative ways to comfort each child who enters the operating room. “I have to think, ‘What kinds of things can I do to reduce their anxiety, to reduce their discomfort or their fear?’” Schow explains. One of his solutions is to sing children’s songs to his patients to distract them from the mask on their face and the medical instruments around them.

“I’m not a good singer,” laughs Schow. “It’s definitely not a professional performance.”

An experience with his own child inspired Schow to care for pediatric patients. Schow, then a medical student at the University of Utah, and his wife had been parents only a few weeks when their daughter began throwing up. They took her to the hospital, where doctors found a problem with her stomach that required surgery. “We were in the position where we were looking at an anesthesiologist and handing our baby off to him and saying, ‘Please bring us back our daughter safely. She’s all that matters to us,’” explains Schow. “At that moment, I thought, ‘I wonder if I could be one of these people that’s entrusted with these children, for this experience of safeguarding a precious life?’”

Schow currently works at Montana Children’s hospital and hasn’t stopped singing to his patients. Schow knows that some of the nurses in the room may find it odd, but his focus is always on the child. “As a person of faith who loves the gospel, I feel very acutely the descriptions of the Savior gathering children and caring for them,” says Schow. “I just feel very tenderly the charge to make sure the children of the world are safely cared for.”

Doctor Adam J. Schow with his family.
While in medical school, Schow first felt inspired to serve pediatric patients when his infant daughter Eliza (now grown, second from right) needed emergency surgery. Photo by Shawna Benson.