Clinical Center News
Spring 2019

Medical musician brings soothing sounds to patients

Michael Bard, a volunteer medical musician, holds his guitar in a patient room
Michael Bard, a volunteer medical musician.

For volunteer Michael Bard, a guitar is his instrument of healing. Bard uses the power of his music to address the psychological, social and spiritual healing of individuals.

Bard, a medical musician, who volunteers in the Pain and Palliative Care Department, comes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for patients and families, and the clinical staff in the intensive care, pain and palliative care and oncology units.

Although Bard specializes in Spanish, Latin and classical guitar music, he can easily transition from Bach to the Beatles and from show tunes to the Rolling Stones.

He has performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Strathmore, a renowned visual and performance arts center in North Bethesda.

Bard refined his skills at the Medical Musician Workshop: Medicine for Musicians in July 2017 and 2018. The workshops, held at the Berkshire Medical Center in Massachusetts, included lectures by physicians from various medical departments, and hands-on training in the hospital’s critical care unit.

Ann Berger, chief of the Pain and Palliative Care Department, was told by the family of one patient that Bard’s music helped their family to feel peace and healing while in the Hospice Unit.

"If I can make just one patient smile or feel better, then I have done my job for the day," Bard said.

Clinical Center honors dedicated volunteers: over 11,000 hours given back

The NIH Clinical Center volunteer program has approximately 170 volunteers, ranging in age from 17 to 80, who gave over 11,000 hours in 2018. Volunteers perform a wide variety of tasks in the Clinical Center across 25 departments, such as clinical support services, greeting patients and families with coffee on the outpatient clinics as patient ambassadors and assisting as language interpreters.

"Our hospital volunteer corps is comprised of dedicated and supportive individuals who mirror our diverse NIH and local community," said Nicole Pascua, chief of the Clinical Center Office of Hospitality and Volunteer Services. "Not only do they dedicate their time and energy to our patients and families, they provide that special interpersonal touch to our patient care services."

The NIH Clinical Center's Volunteer Program is led by the Office of Hospitality and Volunteer Services. Individuals interested in volunteering at the Clinical Center should submit an application and reference form of contact Nicole Pascua at 301-451-9868,

Eight volunteers smile
The NIH Clinical Center recognizes its volunteers during National Volunteer Week, April 7 to April 13, and throughout the year. More than 170 individuals volunteer at the nation's largest hospital entirely dedicated to clinical research.

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