Michael Jenkins passes Neurologic Music Therapy Fellowship

Smiling millennial man with red beard and hair, wearing glass and orange tee, standing in front of green bushes and a brick wall

Music Therapist Michael Jenkins has passed his Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) Fellowship with flying colours. The NMT Fellowship is an advanced clinical training that music therapists can complete once they have completed standard music therapy training and neurologic music therapy (NMT) training.

Michael, who trained at the University of Limerick, has been a music therapist for seven years. He always wanted to work in a hospital where a multi-disciplinary approach to care is key. This made the RHN, where multi-disciplinary working is well-established, a great match for him. He came here on a placement and was drawn to the positive and friendly atmosphere.

To be awarded the NMT Fellowship, music therapists must demonstrate competency in standardised assessment and treatment of neurological issues in three domains, sensorimotor skills, speech and language, and cognition. They present a range of case studies to a panel of experts who appraise and critique the clinical examples. Michael did 30 hours of clinical work and prepared three case studies to present. This made it a long and challenging process, especially during a pandemic.

As well as being awarded his NMT Fellowship during the pandemic, Michael continued to work as a music therapist which provided particular challenges.

Michael said, ”It was hard to work as a music therapist during the pandemic because there is no blue print or guidance of how music therapists can support people during these times. The work was based entirely on intuition. One of the most noteworthy things that were different about my practise were finding creative ways of having sessions with patients who I couldn’t physically be with by using Zoom or even from outside a window.”

Michael and other music therapists supported social bonding between patients and families by facilitating virtual joint sessions

Michael said, “I had a patient who is very musical and his dad plays guitar. I set up a weekly time for them to play music together on Zoom.”

This extended to support staff to bond and raise staff morale by offering musical groups for them. One of the things that Michael did was to sing Disney songs with his colleague, clinical psychologist, Su-Lin, who is an accomplished pianist. They did a medley of songs for an RHN fundraiser, The Pianothon, which raised money for our COVID-19 emergency appeal.

Michael said, ‘It was so nice to collaborate with Su-Lin. It is always such as nice experience to sing with a talented pianist. At the time, Su-Lin and I were colleagues on the same ward and we worked closely together. Performing music with her was a great way to showcase the great team-work across RHN staff during the pandemic.’

Michael’s favourite Disney tune is The Colours of the Wind from Pocahontas (1995).

Michael said, ‘The song describes the beautiful forests and landscapes of south-east Virginia, where I was born and raised. It’s the unofficial anthem of Virginia and I get weepy whenever I listen to it!’