Madison doctor plays guitar, sings for hospital staff to start every shift with a smile

Doctor says he will continue to do this as long as he is needed

MADISON, Wis. — Dr. Doug Hobson is a palliative care physician at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital. He knows firsthand what working in the healthcare industry is like during this pandemic.

“The most difficult thing has been people who are dying here in the hospital who don’t have access to their friends and family,” he said.

While he could vent about how tough his job is right now, he doesn’t. Instead, he spreads joy by starting every day out with a song.

“It’s important to start off every day with a smile.”

For 10 minutes every morning, Hobson plays guitar and sings uplifting, well-known songs in the atrium of the hospital where all hospital staff enter and get screened before starting their shifts.

“I’m no rock star,” Hobson said. “During this pandemic, people are doing jobs that they weren’t doing before. Being a live performer was not one of my jobs before. People are just doing anything they can to help.”

Hobson said he misses seeing his staff throughout the building and throughout the day. Making himself seen and heard in the atrium is a way he can still manage to stay socially distant and put smiles on his co-workers faces.

“I felt that if there was some small thing that I could do, small gesture of appreciation and kindness it might help them go through this difficult day and give them strength to come back the next day and do it all over again,” he said.

Hobson said his co-workers sometimes do double takes when they see him, not previously knowing he had a hidden talent.

Hobson said he will continue to sing and play for as long as he can, as long as it keeps bringing smiles at the start of every shift.

“If people need it, then I’ll be there,” he said. “I think that’s the attitude of just about everybody who works here.”