“Dancing Doc” PA Brings Joy To Pediatric Patients And It Will Make You Smile
By Chaunie Brusie
He’s been dubbed the “Dancing Doc” and he’s going viral for a darn good reason: turning the hospital floor into the latest dance floor.
Tony Adkins, 42, is a loving husband, father of two daughters, a physician assistant (PA) for pediatric neurosurgery at the Children's Hospital of Orange County, and a practitioner who also moonlights in the ER at St Joseph’s Hospital. As Adkin’s Facebook page explains, he’s a health care provider who believes in thinking outside of the typical medical “set boxes” in order to deliver exceptional care. And that’s exactly what this “dancing doctor” does, by combining in his passion for patient care with a little bit of music and a whole lot of fun.
Healing through dance
Adkins has been sharing his fun-loving and inspirational antics on his Instagram page for some time (um, check out his Halloween costume from last year!) but he first started garnering more attention when a video of him dancing with some PA students went viral. Many of his early videos were dubbed “stretching” with his patients, showing how anyone can benefit from a good, healthy stretch, right?
Soon, however, as Adkin’s videos gained more popularity, his patients soon got in on the action with him and he shared even more videos of how his particular brand of dance therapy is making a difference for patients of all different abilities.
His posts feature a special disclaimer that any videos made public on his page have been done so with the written and/or oral consent of his patients or their guardians according to CHOC guidelines, so don’t worry, everything is done legally and compliant with HIPPA. This isn’t a man out to gain from the conditions of others; it’s just a man who wants to help others through the fun of a little song and dance. To date, Adkins has shared videos of him dancing with staff members, young patients with epilepsy, and has been totally eclipsed by the moves of some of his patients who are sporting wheels. (Sorry, Tony, but she’s got you beat.)
Adkins has even taken his antics to an entirely new level, staging “boxing matches” with one of his patients who has epilepsy and underwent surgery. I mean, what little kid wouldn’t be empowered by knocking out his doctor before getting surgery?
Oh, and then, of course, we can’t forget that Adkins is multi-talented and even throws in a little salsa dancing from time to time:
In his bio and in several news interviews, Adkins has expressed that his background and upbringing hasn’t always been easy. He grew up in South LA, raised by a single mom with two older brothers who were both gang members. His childhood was a rough one, with violence on the streets he lived and as a young boy, Adkins knew he wanted something better for himself. Yet, he struggled in school, initially being placed in remedial classes. It wasn’t until after he graduated high school and spent time serving in the Army that he decided he wanted to work in healthcare with children. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in neurosciences and a Master’s from Loma Linda University in global health and epidemiology, then went on to earn his Master’s degree from the University of Washington in health sciences to become a PA.
More than just dancing
Adkins has found that a positive attitude and a little bit of fun thanks to dancing has made all of the difference for him in his life and it’s that type of positivity he hopes to bring to his patients, no matter what their individual circumstances may be. He credits dance for saving him from some of his worst times, even keeping him out of jail or a death sentence while growing up. And today, his dancing has become so popular that some of his patients and their families even pre-schedule a dancing session with him during his time on the floor.
And in fact, Adkins’ dance moves aren’t just for fun and games—he also revealed that dancing is a sneaky way for him to be able to assess his patients’ mobility and functional levels, as well as encourages movement, a necessary step for many children in the hospital.
“[Dancing] has a clinical value as it allows me to assess a patient’s physical abilities, mobility and recovery process,” he said in a recent interview. Adkins cited a recent case, in which his patient was reluctant to get out of bed post-surgery, but an invitation to dance with him was too good to pass up. Up his patient went and after they were done dancing, he kept going by doing laps around the hospital. Adkins explained that it was “awesome” to witness his efforts making a difference.
Adkins himself confessed that some of the notoriety he has received as a result of his dancing videos going viral is a little overwhelming, but his focus, as always, remains on his patients.
“Practicing in neurosurgery means I see some of the worst things that can possibly take place for a child,” he wrote in an article for Medpage Today. “In an area of medicine where the stakes are high and the spirits often low, I believe it’s important to create an outlet for kids to have fun because laughter and silliness is one of the best doses of medicine I can provide to patients.”
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