Nurses are the backbone of our healthcare system, risking their lives daily to treat and comfort patients. It’s a job that can understandably get overwhelming. The pandemic exacerbated this pressure, making a longstanding nursing shortage in the US even worse. (Long hours and excessive emotional stress often cause hospital workers to burn out and quit their jobs.) The US Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts an annual average of 194,500 openings for registered nurses through 2030.
Still, there are ways to shine light in the darkness: The nurses from New York’s Northwell Health decided to form a singing group called the Northwell Health Nurse Choir to generate some joy.
But can a group of medical workers who excel at caring for patients really have that much musical talent to boot? Turns out, they do: Since 2020, the Northwell Health Nurse Choir have made a name for themselves on a national platform and brought music to the world when it was needed most. In June 2021, the choir auditioned for America’s Got Talent and received the coveted Golden Buzzer (which automatically advances the act to the next round of competition). The singing nurses eventually made it to the season 16 finale, and have since gone on to sing at numerous prestigious places, including the White House, Madison Square Garden, Carnegie Hall, the Today show, Live with Kelly and Ryan, and several professional sporting events.
Where are they now?
Most recently, the choir opened for the iconic rock group Train at Jones Beach Theater in New York. Also this month, they are recording new music and performing at a Salesforce Health Summit and Emergency Nursing Conference. Individual members of the choir have seen success as well, continuing to use their platform to represent front-line workers while simultaneously pursuing their own dreams. Keshia Jaboin, for example, received her master’s degree in nursing this May, and is currently planning her wedding. Winifred Mele is now an ordained Minister and will be officiating a wedding in August.
Emanuel “Manny” Remilus, a 33-year-old first generation Haitian-American, was inspired to become a pediatric nurse after his own experience as a child in the hospital; having suffered from a brain bleed, he was in awe of the compassionate nurses who cared for him. He’s now an assistant nurse manager at Cohen Children’s Medical Center (part of the Northwell Health system), known for his musical nighttime baths. He joined the choir when he needed an escape from the harsh reality of his job as a pediatric ICU nurse, caring for critically ill children — and he’s currently pursuing his master’s degree in nursing leadership, with an expected graduation date of 2024.
Danielle Filippone, a 36-year-old nurse and mom to an 8-year-old son with Autism, started singing as a way to communicate with her non-verbal son, who would only respond when she sang to him. It’s also a big part of the way she cares for her patients, who know her as “the singing nurse.” She often takes song requests during patients’ hospital stays. Now, Filippone is studying for the extremely challenging CNOR exam, which will give her credentials honoring the highest skills and standards of perioperative nurses.
Hats off to those nurses who show up to work each day and bravely face long hours, sick patients, and the risk of COVID infection to do their jobs. See the Northwell Health Choir sing Rachel Platten’s appropriately inspirational jam “Stand By You” at their AGT finale below.