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The rock-and-roll cure

One hospitalist's high-energy creative outlet

Keywords: A hospital physician balances his intellect with a high dose of rock and funk.

Published in the January 2013 issue of Today's Hospitalist

WHEN THOMAS MCILRAITH, MD, talks about the people who have influenced him, he lists a wide range of names. On one hand, Dr. McIlraith, the chair of hospital medicine for the Mercy Medical Group in Sacramento, Calif., has been inspired by Win Whitcomb, MD, one of hospital medicine's first organizers and a leading quality expert. But he also cites Buddy Guy, the incendiary blues guitarist.

By day, Dr. McIlraith directs 55 hospitalists working in four hospitals. But once a month, he takes on what he calls his "alter ego," fronting a high-energy
By day, Dr. McIlraith directs 55 hospitalists working in four hospitals. But once a month, he fronts a high-energy rock and funk band.

rock and funk band called The Remedies that has been playing clubs and private events around Sacramento for four years.

As lead vocalist and one of two lead guitarists, Dr. McIlraith steers the group through a repertoire that ranges from "Brick House" and "Walk This Way" to original songs. "Whatever gets people dancing," says Dr. McIlraith. His son, who is 10, has encouraged the band to include "a little more Rise Against. We're trying to be more this century."

Dr. McIlraith has been singing most of his life, first in choirs as a child and then in bands during high school. Clearly, music for him is more than a passing fad.

“I definitely think high-powered professionals should have a creative outlet, just to balance their intellect,” Dr. McIlraith says. “If I'm using my creative side musically, then my scientific and intellectual side benefits. That's how it's played out in my life.”

That lesson became clear during medical school when he was fronting a 15-piece band. "I was so busy with the band that I thought I was going to flunk out," Dr.McIlraith recalls. "But that was when I got my best grades. I took that as I sign that I need to have music in my life to keep me balanced."

His present band includes bassist David Pai, MD, a nephrologist, and sound engineer, Dan Anderson, MD, an orthopedist. Two nonphysicians round out the lineup: guitarist Walt Simmons and drummer Greg Marquis.
One of Dr. McIlraith's compositions is "The CPOE Blues." Another, "The Long Ride,"refers to the growth of hospital medicine. Although he wants to write more and record original songs, "it will have to wait for another day."

In the meantime, The Remedies have a strong local following, including many colleagues. "It's been great to see people who are very smart and often under a lot of stress let their hair down and have a good time," Dr. McIlraith says.

Photos, MP3s and YouTube links are online at

Having fun with CPOE?

Thomas McIlraith, MD, chair of hospital medicine for the Mercy Medical Group in Sacramento, Calif., is a big CPOE supporter—but he also understands your frustration. Click here for a hospital medicine original!

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