The Music of Medicine: Physician Playlists

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A great soundtrack can bring everything together.

It’s true in the movies, and sometimes in the medical center, too. In labs, preparation areas, and sometimes even the operating room, music can help a team focus, build camaraderie, and set the right mood.

A few Cedars-Sinai doctors shared some of their favorite tracks that get them ready to work, along with their thoughts on what these songs bring to the table.

Dr. Ray Chu

Neurosurgeon

Dr. Ray Chu listens to earbuds in the halls of Cedars-Sinai.

“Music keeps us moving,” Dr. Chu says. “In a silent room, the mind can start to wander.”

Recently, he worked with a resident who wasn’t from the US. He had two missions: “Part of my job was to teach him neurosurgery,” Dr. Chu says. “And part of my job was to teach him old-school rap.”

  • Beautiful – Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell Williams; “Because the brain and brain surgery are beautiful.”
  • Lay Low – Snoop Dogg; “For brain surgery, you can’t go charging around. You have to creep around without being noticed and without the brain and its vasculature being disturbed.”
  • Me Myself and I – De La Soul
  • California Love – 2Pac featuring Dr. Dre; “After all, it has a doctor.”
  • Get Ur Freak On – Missy Elliot
  • It Was a Good Day – Ice Cube
  • Hypnotize – Notorious B.I.G.
  • Lose Yourself – Eminem
  • Rapper’s Delight – The Sugarhill Gang

Dr. Matthew Siedhoff

Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery

Dr Matthew Siedhoff listening to music at Cedars-Sinai.

Creating connections is important and music can help do that. The right environment is important in any work setting, and especially when a team is coming together to take care of a patient.

“We’re focused, and also enjoying working together toward such an important common goal,” Dr. Siedhoff says.

  • Beat It – Michael Jackson; “He’s the King of Pop, and the words seem like a pat on the back to keep working on beating that disease.”
  • Up&Up – Coldplay; “There’s a great uplifting spirit to this song and the lyrics make me think of the magic that happens when surgical solutions emerge.”
  • Faith – George Michael
  • Call On Me – Starley (Ryan Riback Remix)
  • Starboy – The Weeknd featuring Daft Punk; “Great vocals, awesome beat, and a little boost of confidence when you sing it to yourself.”

Read: Taming the Boogeymen: When Medical “Monsters” Do Good


Dr. Nicholas Nissen

Director, Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery

Dr Nicholas Nissen listens to music at Cedars-Sinai.

“Music helps the team stay calm and relaxed, and gives us all some commonality,” Dr. Nissen says.

He just has one strict rule: No singing along.

“Once you’re singing along, you’re distracted.”

  • Take on Me – a-ha
  • Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey
  • Juke Box Hero – Foreigner
  • Call Me – Blondie
  • Funkytown – Lipps Inc.
  • Africa – Toto
  • Like a Virgin – Madonna
  • I Can’t Go For That – Hall and Oates
  • Down Under – Men At Work
  • Crazy Train – Ozzy Osbourne
  • Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
  • Anything by ABBA

Dr. Ali Azizzadeh

Director, Vascular Surgery

Dr Ali Azizzadeh listening to music at Cedars-Sinai.

“Background music is almost essential,” says Dr. Azizzadeh. “It breaks the monotony and gets everyone into a more relaxed and calm mood.”

His favorite crowd-pleasing music for setting the right tone: Classic rock.

  • Hotel California – The Eagles
  • Another Brick in the Wall – Pink Floyd
  • Satisfaction – The Rolling Stones
  • Proud Mary – Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • Eye of the Tiger – Survivor
  • Sweet Emotion – Aerosmith
  • Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns N’ Roses
  • Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen

Read: Faces of Cedars-Sinai: Vascular Surgeon Ali Azizzadeh


Dr. Harmik Soukiasian

Director, Thoracic Surgery

Dr Harmik Soukiasian in the halls of Cedars-Sinai with headphones around his neck.

In his free time, Dr. Soukiasian is a DJ, mostly at his kids’ school and at friends’ parties. His music collection is extensive and constantly being updated.

“I listen to the kind of music you hear when you’re having fun at a party or at a club,” he says. “I think it’s important to enjoy the environment that you’re working in while doing something that is inherently stressful.”

  • DJs Gotta Dance More – A-Trak featuring Todd Terry
  • Good Guy – Eminem featuring Jessie Reyez
  • Zooted – Becky G featuring French Montana and Farruko
  • Green Gucci Suit – Rick Ross featuring Future
  • Goodbye – Jason Derulo and David Guetta featuring Nicki Minaj and Willy William
  • Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) – C+C Music Factory
  • Take Me To Church – Jasmine Thompson
  • Tarantella – TWIIG
  • Tell Me Why – Robert Cristian
  • My Life – Zhu and Tame Impala

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