The Inclusion of Information on Music Therapy within Nursing Education

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Hancock-Marsh, Justine
Master of Arts in Music Therapy
Nurses in professional practice will often encounter the use of complementary and alternative medicines or therapies (CAM) by patients. Music therapy is considered to be a complementary or integrative therapy in many health settings. Unfortunately, many nurses are unsure of the interventions, benefits, or role of music therapy within the medical system. Nursing students in the state of California must have instruction on CAM modalities in order to pass the licensure exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Since music therapy is considered a CAM modality, this author questioned what information regarding music therapy is being taught to nursing students. The purpose of this study was to determine the amount and quality of information regarding the profession and practice of music therapy included within the nursing education programs in the state of California. An electronic web-based survey was sent to 81 program directors and primary educators of nursing programs in the state of California. The total number of responses was 14 (n =14). Results of the survey indicated that nursing professionals place a high regard on music therapy and other CAM modalities. However, a lack of time to adequately cover music therapy and other CAM modalities, as well as a lack of understanding of music therapy interventions, were cited as the largest barriers to inclusion within the curriculum. A need for greater communication between music therapists and nursing professionals, as well as implications for music therapy educational opportunities are discussed.