Clown Doctors in NYC

The article on clown doctors described an organization called the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit which consists of professional clowns that come into the children’s wards of hospitals in New York City to help cheer up and distract children from the pain and discomfort of treatments. In each hospital there is a team of three clowns that do a variety of activities with children to make them feel better about being in the hospital. Many clowns will perform acting routines, tell jokes, do puppetry, as well as a variety of other clownish behaviors to help children to feel good about themselves and to lift their spirits. Doctors and nurses in the hospitals where the clowns volunteer report that the clowns help the children’s and their parents’ morale and that distracting the children with jokes and gags while they get treatments make it easier for the doctors and nurses to do their jobs as well.

The healers in this situation are clowns and their social status is one below doctors and nurses, but it is just as important. The techniques they use vary, but may include pulling objects from behind patients’ ears, acting, telling jokes, puppetry, and other typical clown activities. They interact with their patients by using a cheerful demeanor and their focus is to take the patients’ and their parents’ minds off of the treatments they’re receiving which are sometimes extremely uncomfortable and painful. For patients in sterile environments, the clowns interact with patients by doing funny activities outside the window, as to not disturb the sterility of the environment.

The clown doctors operate in the folk sector, being between the popular and professional sectors and also not being a biological form of healing. They also operate in western culture, being from NYC, and healthcare is delivered both holistically and biologically in this system and the body and mind are generally treated separately in this system.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Breanna Ramsay says:

    In this post the Clown Doctors in NYC were examined as part of the folk sector of healing. They are much different compared to the biomedical doctors and since they work in hospitals it gives the unique opportunity to examine how they differ from the doctors (M.D.’s) they work alongside. The clown doctors help lift the spirits and morale of the children in the hospitals for treatments as well as their parents. They have the ability to put a smile on the children’s face as well as make them feel safe and happy in an environment that is usually uncomfortable and scary for children. This usually helps the children be more relaxed which in turn can allow them to respond better to treatments.

    These healers do seem effective. Though biomedical doctors do not always see healers in the folk sector as legitimate or credible many a times they do seem to have some effect on their patients. It is clear from the article that both the children and their parents were positively affected by the clown doctors. Many a time’s the nurses as well as the doctors in the hospital are also positively affected by the clowns. They too feel a raise in morale by their presence.

  2. Ava Peera says:

    Ashley, this was a great summary and discussion of the article. I believe that using clowns in hospitals in order to cheer up the children and boost their morale is a great idea. I think that anything that helps make the patient feel happy and comfortable while being treated should be implemented in a medical setting. Clowns and biomedical doctors share the same goal: heal the patient. They both work to help the patient heal and feel better. Although they share a common goal, biomedical doctors and clowns achieve it in very different ways. Biomedical doctors focus on the actual symptoms and physical pain of patients and use medicine to combat disease’s. Clowns use jokes and puppetry in order to distract the patient from the tough procedures he or she is going through.
    I believe that clowns are credible, legitimate and effective. The article says that even nurses and doctors can see that the use of clowns helps patients have an easier time while receiving treatment. The clowns help put a patient at ease, the same way that hospital dogs do. Their purpose is not to actively treat a patient, but to help in the process. If a patient is feeling optimistic and has high morale, this can greatly change his or her attitude on the illness and even help heal faster.

  3. Moriah Hill says:

    Clown Doctors in NYC is a very different, but interesting approach on health. it does not technically heal or treat an illness specifically, but it helps to speed up the healing process. I do believe in the saying that when you smile you start to feel better, Especially in a childs case.
    Clown doctors do not really compare to an actual doctor or nurse because treatment and healthcare is still very much needed for the patients but for children, a clown doctor could mean a lot. A clown doctor is there to make the childs healing process much more tolerable and easy. It keeps the children in good spirits, despite what health issues they are going through.
    A clown doctor is legitimate and very much effective for children, i do not know how much of an effect a clown doctor would have on an adult because their sense of humor is much different from a child. It is not really credible because a clown doctor cannot be held accountable for anything that goes wrong since they are not administering care. Just the fact that clown doctors are in childrens hospital to spread positivity helps health care professionals in the aid of caring for patients.

  4. Maureen John says:

    This is a very interesting article about Clown Doctors in NYC. I have personally never heard of Clown Doctors in hospitals until this article, so it was very interesting reading your summary. I know in some children’s hospital’s they have people come in dressed up as their favorite superheroes to lighten up their young patients. These Clown Doctors are definitely below biomedical doctors when it comes to social status, but they also seem to serve a very important task. Clown Doctors operate in the folk sector and they focus in on the patients emotional well being. Since Clown Doctors may not have much credibility or licensing, as opposed to biomedical doctors, there can be some debate on their legitimacy or effectiveness on young patients. I think it is a great idea to have Clown Doctors work alongside biomedical doctors to help cheer up young patients. Not only do Clown Doctors help cheer up the children, but they can also take some major stress off of their family and loved ones. Many of the young patients in children’s hospitals are scared of doctors and the hospital environment. Clown Doctors can help them see hospitals as a happy place where they don’t have to fear anything.

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