Medicine the Musical

This blog post comes from Michael Ehrenreich, a physician who has also written the music and lyrics for Medicine the Musical, a new play about medical school to be staged off Broadway in November.

‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know,’ wrote English poet John Keats in Ode to a Grecian Urn. Although a physician by training, Keats abandoned this path to instead focus on literary matters, and he is today considered one of the great Romantic poets. I am no Keats. And I have not turned by back on practicing medicine, but I have as of late spent part of my time on literary (or, more properly, musical) matters, having written Medicine the Musical, a new musical set in the first year of medical school, which will have a limited engagement at HERE Arts Center in New York City this November.

A musical treatment inspired by medical school was always in the back of my mind during my training, but it was not until many years later that I wrote and composed the play, in which a cohort of first year medical students is followed through the first year of training as they struggle with their lives, loves, and the rigors of their education.

Medicine the Musical is a complete fabrication, inspired by medical school, but not much bound by realism. Doctors will recognize the elements that ring true, as well as the areas where artistic liberties were taken. Through music and theater Medicine the Musical makes the world of medicine accessible to the layperson, and in turn humanizes its practitioners. With or without the white coat, doctors are people too. By connecting people to this seemingly obvious fact, Medicine the Musical bridges the gap between doctor and patient.

The creation of Medicine the Musical is for me one aspect of the quest for daily balance. Each day I try to find a little time to explore interests outside of my busy clinical practice, whether it is sitting down with my guitar or keyboard, writing at my computer, or reading a book, I believe that within (almost) every day there can be found ten minutes that can be productively applied—for example, ten minutes that might have otherwise been wasted on a smart phone. The accumulated potential of ten minutes a day can be astounding. It is how we all conquered the volumes of material necessary to become physicians—a little bit at a time. It is how we can each strive to achieve balance in our lives, by capturing the lost moments. One of Medicine the Musical’s characters sings ‘Forgive yourself the moments lost.’ But don’t forgive yourself too many. It might seem that the discipline required to put in ten daily minutes will only add to one’s stress; but that is not the case. In those moments you can find yourself.

Medicine the Musical  will play 14 shows at HERE Arts Center, November 3-18. Tickets are available at

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