Tom Alexander / MJ
Tom Alexander / MJ

BY LAURA CLARK, Staff Writer

Dr. Patch Adams visited UM-Dearborn on Thursday and Friday to speak to an audience of students and the general public. Not surprisingly, Dr. Adams’s two talks, “Medicine for FUN not FUNDS,” and Living a Life of Joy,” received a large very turnout.

Dr. Adams (or Patch, as he prefers to be called) has gained worldwide popularity for his work as a free medical doctor and for his beliefs that health should not be tied to income or what a person owns. His ritual of dressing up as a clown for sick people has also garnered much attention.

Patch has written books, including “Gesundheit!: Bringing Good Health to You, the Medical System, and Society through Physician Service, Complementary Therapies, Humor, and Joy.” Additionally, he gained further recognition for the 1998 movie “Patch Adams,” starring Robin Williams, which is loosely based on his life.

Patch’s philosophy is that integrating joy, laughter, and creativity into treating patients is an important part of healing. “I can’t think of a time when you wouldn’t want to bring compassion [to people],” he said in his talk, “Medicine for FUN, not FUNDS,” on Thursday.

Patch has been treating patients for 40 years, has traveled to many different countries clowning to bring laughter to those who are sick and terminally ill, and has been at over 10,000 deathbeds as a clown. “We can’t promise to cure, but we can promise to care,” he said.

Patch not only tries to treat patients as a doctor, but also as someone who will make them laugh and smile, someone who cares, and someone who will be their friend. “We need friends. There is no question to me as a physician that the most important thing in our lives are our friends,” he said.

Patch’s advice to medical students was to practice being a great friend and practice living a loving life. “Don’t give up on your hobbies,” he said. “And always be open to things.”
Patch told students that if they want to live a life of joy and happiness, then no matter what their circumstances, they can make a conscious decision do so every single day.

He claims he has not had a bad day in over 40 years. “You wake up every morning and the greatest thing that’s happened already is knowing you are alive,” he said on Friday, in his talk, “Living a Life of Joy.” “And you wouldn’t want to waste that by having a bad day.”

Patch travels for most of the year now as a clown to help sick people in other countries. He also runs a free clinic, the Gesundheit Institute, open 24 hours, seven days a week, and committed to providing free care.

To contact Patch or find out more about him, visit his website at