Thursday, November 23, 2006

Hospital in Israel sets up "medical clowning" degree

Israel university sets up medical clowning degree

Wed Nov 22, 4:23 PM ET

TORONTO, Nov 22 (Reuters Life!) - An Israeli university is taking the notion that laughter is the best medicine seriously, setting up a Bachelor of Arts degree in medical clowning to help legitimize the profession.

Hospitals in many countries use clowning as a form of therapy to help patients' recovery or ease suffering, particularly in children's wards .

The 1998 film "Patch Adams" told the real-life story of a doctor from Virginia who believed humor and humanity needed to play a major role in patient care. Virginia-based Adams' Gesundheit! Institute, founded in 1972, organizes clown trips to hospitals around the world.

But Israel's University of Haifa said it was taking this idea one step further, making medical clowning part of academic studies in what other hospital clowns believe is the first degree of its kind.