An Rx for laughter

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An Rx for laughter

por Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | August 11, 2020
From the August 2020 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Jacobson also referenced the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, which consists of range of professionals holding the common interest of applying therapeutic humor to patient care as a resource. In addition, he’s part of a humor academy where a three-year graduate program in humor studies is offered. “We’re talking about humor, but it’s actually a serious subject,” he says. “The health benefits are evidence-based. People who laugh hardily on a regular basis have lower standing blood pressure, reductions in pain and more.”
Jacobson says humor enhances his leadership skills as well. Staff members are comfortable bantering and joking, but they keep to guidelines of appropriate humor — meaning nothing racist, sexist or ageist. “There’s a lot that can be divisive, but appropriate humor is great. I’ve always fallen back on self-effacing humor, poking fun at myself and my staff does the same thing now. This has led to them not being afraid to make mistakes, knowing that if they share that with their sense of humor it’s going to help everyone learn and get better,” he says.

For patients, Jacobson says a little finesse is needed. “It’s not for everyone, but most patients can appreciate a good sense of humor. Those who do, I encourage it with them. I had one patient, a cardiology patient in his 30s, in for some time due to his heart condition. We started to banter — it was little things. One day, I walked in and saw he looked frightened. He told me he was having his surgery that day and wasn’t sure he was going to make it. I asked what I could do and he told me I could tell him he was going to make it. I couldn’t guarantee that, but I told him when he came out of surgery, I’d have a sign on the wall saying, “You are Here,” and then he’d know he made it. It’s a little thing, but he remembers waking up after surgery, seeing that sign, smiling and being oriented because of it. He said he’ll never forget that moment of feeling that everything was going to be okay, just because of a silly sign on the wall.“

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