Spotlight: Jim Murdoch

Jim Murdoch is on contract for UCSF who works for the Ernest H. Rosenbaum, MD, Art for Recovery program providing music in the clinics and helping with ongoing patient support projects.

When and why did you come to work at UCSF?

Jim MurdochJim Murdoch

I began working as a musician with the Art for Recovery program in 1993. [The late] Ernie Rosenbaum, MD, hired Cindy Perlis to create the program in 1988.  A few years later, the family of one of Dr. Rosenbaum's patients donated money to start a music program and I began working 10 hours a week with patients one to one in their hospital rooms and assisting in all the different aspects of the Art for Recovery program.  At that time, we were almost entirely an in patient hospital so I was kind of like a Fuller Brush Man except with an accordion, going from room to room, knocking on doors and asking people if they would like to hear some music.

What do you do at UCSF and how is it connected to the UCSF mission?

See answer to question No. 1. Playing music and singing together with patients, staff and family members, sharing stories, developing relationships and building community fits in nicely I hope.

What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of your job?

Maintaining an outlook of compassion in all situations is the most challenging.

The most rewarding is being able to use music to help someone physically as well as psychologically. Two examples are teaching a patient to play a harmonica to strengthen their lungs and breathing after being intubated for a long period of time, and using singing to help a stroke patient regain cognitive function.

If you chose another career path outside UCSF what would it be?

Botany.  I live right across the street from all the beautiful trees in Golden Gate Park. I'm curious to learn more about them, photosynthesis, heliotropism and to eventually learn the names of all the conifers in California.

What's something that members of the UCSF community would be surprised to know about you?

They might be surprised to know I'm also the facilitator for the Husbands & Significant Others support group here at the UCSF Cancer Resource Center. They would probably be just as surprised to know that I perform as a musical clown at fairs and festivals.  My show combines accordion music from around the world, juggling, hat tricks and goofy little skits for the kids to participate in.

What are your favorite things to do with your free time?

Spending time at the ocean, knee boarding and boogie boarding with my fiancé, cooking, and practicing (learning) French and Spanish.

Photo by Karen Gehrman