Off Beat Stories

Dec 3, 2009 11:37 AM by Dick Johnson

Doc Rock! Catchy tunes serve as teaching aids

Body parts become lyrics in all of John Paro's songs these days. He performs all of the musical parts himself.

It has everything to do with who he is trying to become.

"I want to be a surgeon, and hopefully a great surgeon," he says.

For now those two pursuits are successfully coexisting. His "Medschoolrock" CD is selling well on and he's doing well in his final year at the University of Chicago Medical School.

"He's just not the typical medical student," says a classmate.

John's a rock star among his closest classmates, who for Halloween dressed up as Sargeant Pepper's Band, and as first year students helped make his first hit go viral.

Medical school terminology is the common denominator.

"I tapped a vein of great material," says Paro.

The songs transcend pure entertainment. They're a teaching tool.

"Especially when I was taking anatomy. It's this big burden of terms and a whole new language. And then I started putting medican mnemonics into the songs and I realized it actually helps me remember terms really well," he says.

On campus, not everyone's aware of John's songs so as he taught anatomy to these first year students we suggested he hum a few bars.

Now what began as a fun way to relax and study at the same time has caught the attention of the real doctors here and a new application is emerging, as a teaching tool for kids regaining hearing through cochlear implants.

Dr. Dana Suskind asked John to create a song to help parents test their child's hearing after surgery with basic sounds called Ling Six.

But it is when John scrubs up to assist in surgery that he believes he's found his true calling. On this morning, a three week old with serious colon complications.

And distraught parents praying only for good news. There's no melody for this moment and yet John finds he loves it even more than his music.

It's not the most important part of my life. It is an important part of my life."



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