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  • Writer's pictureAlexandra Horn

Improv and Health Care

It's not what you think. On a list of things of you don't want to hear before going under the knife, right at the top would be that your surgeon was up for some improvising...but that said, the tools of applied improv are having a significant impact in the health care sector throughout the United States and North America.

Improv and Health Care

When we visit our doctor, aren't we all looking for an experience in which the doc actively listens to us and reacts genuinely to what she's hearing, with empathy. Creating interactions that aren't rote and scripted, but personalized and spontaneous, and communicating a wellness plan that connects with the individual is what improv can provide within the health care sector.

We work with clients every day in the areas of achieving better listening skills, being more collaborative and reacting in the moment, through our popular corporate training programs in the Dallas-area and with the many clients we design customized improv-based team building programs.

Improv and Health Care (Medical Improv) Improvisers have to actively listen and react to what they're hearing. When you consider what physicians, nurses, clinicians and other professionals in the medical field are tasked with every day, they have to respond to situations that are layered with critical time constraints, the need for clear communication, quick-decision making and rapidly changing data - and they have to do this while maintaining their composure.

Medical improv is becoming increasingly popular, bringing the tools of improv to the health sector, improving cognition, communication, teamwork, empathy in their approach and most importantly, this all results in a higher level of patient care.

It has also been recognized as a valuable component in assisting health care workers with their own work-life balance, job satisfaction and relationships with colleagues.

In a study of medical students at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine where students had the option of taking an improv-focused class, 95% of the students said “studying improv could make me a better doctor,” and 100% agreed with the statement “I would recommend this class to other medical students.”

Hartley Jafine, a professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario Canada teaches theatre-based courses within the undergraduate health science program, including running a medical improv curriculum with the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Sunnybrook Health Sciences, stated “Within medicine there is such an to appetite to engage with improv and play. While some groups I work with are initially skeptical, once they do the work, and they really engage, they all have that experiential ‘ah-ha’ moment and there is a release of value and joy in it.”

If you’re interested in learning more about how applied improv could be a fit for you personally, or your group or department, contact either of us here at Improv to Improv in Dallas


Our friends in Vancouver, BC, Vancouver TheatreSports, have been working with health care sector organizations and teams for several years, ranging from the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of British Columbia, focused on elevating the way they communicate and collaborate pre, during and post-surgery, to the BC Centre for Disease Control , in the areas of support, communication, embracing the unpredictable and increasing the effectiveness of cross-departmental communication…as well as working with medical students at the local universities.

You can check out more of what they offer in their team building activities in Vancouver, empathy in the workplace workshops, and storytelling and presentation skills workshops with improv, which all can be customized to fit with the health sector.

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