Gemma Isaac loves music. It is truly her passion — next to helping people. So when she first became a Music Therapist eight years ago working in VGH’s BC Professional Firefighters’ Burn, Trauma and High Acuity Unit (BTHAU), she knew she had found her calling. Her career as an Allied Health Professional at Vancouver General Hospital has seen her care for patients suffering from some of the most traumatic injuries, and she views her job as a gift to be able to help these people get through their most trying times.
Let’s meet her.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Burnaby for the first six years of my life then moved to Marpole and have remained a Vancouver girl ever since.
How long have you worked at VGH?
My music therapy internship started in 2011 and by 2012 I was in a newly created position for music therapy in VGH’s BTHAU. 2019 marks my eighth year providing music therapy to patients at VGH.
What first interested you in music therapy?
When my mom was going through chemotherapy, I would sit next to her and she would request songs. It was the least I could do for her — after all, she did invest in all my singing, dancing and acting classes! As I sang, I noticed her anxiety would greatly decrease and the music created a shift in the environment. I was curious about the art and science of music, and that’s when I discovered the allied health profession of music therapy and that there are both BA and MA degrees offered in Canada. I was really impressed that the profession is evidence-based and that there is so much research into understanding how and why music is so effective.
What do you like most about your job?
That families allow me to become a part of their recovery journey. And that my job can bring a sense of peace, hope and autonomy to patients in some of their most challenging times. It really is an honour to provide the gift of music when recovery can feel so displacing.
Who or what inspires you?
My mom, Emma, who raised four kids on her own and is a lola (grandmother) extraordinaire to her grandchildren, was self-employed, is a cancer survivor, woman of strong faith, teacher of the joy of serving others, and unconditional love.
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