The Bridge Between Improv Comedy and Medical Improv!

BB closer Headshot3:6:2015I’ll never be a professional improvisor and don’t plan on returning to direct care as an RN. What I AM focused on is building a bridge between the transformative learning from theatre improvisation and skills we need to develop healthier relationships, teams, cultures, and systems.

My 3rd book, tentatively titled, The Medical Improv Primer:  15 Fundamental Activities You Can Teach STAT! is being reviewed now and scheduled for publication later this year.

From Chapter One:  Medical Improv as an “Escape Fire”!:

Enter the emerging field of Medical Improv! Where theater techniques and philosophies can be used to develop emotional intelligence, communication, teamwork, and leadership capacities and promise a host of additional benefits such as; managing conflict, reducing stress, and improving creativity, flexibility, and spontaneity.  All of which can permeate our cultures and the care we provide with improved outcomes and a hopeful new energy.

Healthcare professionals will be able to use it to teach basic improv activities to staff at all levels without spending a lot of time or resources.  Improvisors will find it helpful in understanding the problems we face so they can be more effective in applying their expertise to healthcare’s unique needs.

I’m also working on broader applications of improv and recently completed a 4-session pilot launch of the Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab (PILL)!  In the last session about 15 friends and colleagues tried out an activity called, Physical Phone.   It was easy to teach, incredibly fun, and potentially very valuable if framed in the context of a Medical Improv learning session.  I can use it to explain this bridge between improv and healthcare.

If you watch the video and try it just for fun as we might do in improv, I’m pretty sure you’ll have some. If you use it as a Medical Improv activity, facilitate discussion with these talking points: Click To Tweet

  • What would happen if the communication was more complex?
  • What if we added some interruptions to the process?
  • What if the environment included sound effects like phones ringing, overhead pages, IV alarms?
  • How might it relate to issues we face with communication in “Handoffs”?
  • How could we improv communication in this process?

If you try it, I’m pretty sure people will enjoy the experience and walk back into their Improvoscopy logo draft NO wordsclinical environments with less tension, more awareness and skills associated with effective communication, an appreciation for their own and each other’s limits, and maybe even some ideas about safer “Handoffs”.  (You can bet if they come up some they will be much more committed to trying them in a collaborative way!)

If you try it with a group of friends or staff let me know how it goes and what kinds of learnings you experience!

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Medical Improv: A New Way To Improv Communication-Book Promotion

Email to receive an exclusive book launch savings once the book is released!

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Amy Goodman Interviews Bernie Sanders: Inspiring, Motivating, & Authentic!

if-ever-there-was-a-moment-in-american-history-where-it-is-imperative-that-the-electoral-college-fulfill-its-duty-of-oversight-this-is-it-ani-difranco-4If you, like me, have been sad, mad, worried since the election and trying to figure out who to believe in and what to do, I think you’ll like this video.  Democracy Now, Amy Goodman interview w/ Bernie Sanders (starts 12 minutes in)

Inspiring, motivating, authentic! Best thing I’ve heard since 11/9/2016

I volunteered to do some PR via this blog and as you can see put up an ad for Democracy Now that will show up on every page.  If you are interested in writing for Confident Voices to speak up for healthcare, the planet, women’s health and reproductive rights, Standing Rock and related issues, please write to me at

imagesThat's where we are now and that's exactly what we have to do!--Bernie Sanders 11/29/16 Click To Tweet

Where we are now IS in a difficult moment.  I don’t want to minimize the difficulties facing us, but throughout history serious people HAVE FOUGHT BACK. That’s where we are now and that’s exactly what we have to do!Bernie Sanders 11/29/16

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A Call to Action for Healthcare Leaders!

questionFor years, we’ve been hearing that healthcare is facing a crisis. Now it’s the whole country! We are entering a critical period, with polarization and conflict growing.

Healthcare organizations will face particular challenges in 2017. Over twenty million Americans may lose health insurance coverage.  Hospitals and insurers could experience severe revenue losses.

Abortion could be outlawed or greatly restricted. That of course has consequences for hospital services as well as for emergency rooms dealing with consequences of self-induced abortions.

The 2016 election was perhaps the most stressful in our history, with women and minorities especially feeling anxiety.  Hate crimes, violence and incidents are rising.  The mental health implications are clearly severe, and more incivility in the workplace can reasonably be anticipated.

Many healthcare workers may fear being caught up in a wave of deportations.  It has been estimated that 11 million people could be deported, at a cost of 100 to 300 billion dollars.

A lot to worry about!  But what do organizations do when times are difficult and uncertainty is high? Sadly, they tend to freeze up.  They defer action until “things are clearer”.  They don’t see or ignore the warning signs.  The result can be disastrous.

Yet the more unsure the situation is, the greater the need for planning. The more potential problems, the more leaders need to be proactive.

Healthcare leaders need to be seen as ensuring the safety & well-being of patients &… Click To Tweet

Healthy organizations have strategic plans and will be revising those to reflect that different scenarios that may occur in 2017. Wise leaders will use this process as a tool to involve employees and stakeholders in coping with stressful times. Safe, authentic, respectful conversations can be incredibly powerful in healing relationships, engaging staff, and creative problem-solving.

Healthcare leaders in particular need to be seen as ensuring the safety and well-being of those in their care and of their employees. They need to act now before fighting breaks out, the government comes to take away employees, or protest movements invade their space.

Leaders must realize that they may not be aware of what people are thinking and worrying about. They need to conduct new assessments of customers and employees and to have channels for open and effective communication among all levels.  In particular, they must recognize that nurses are on the front lines of such potential conflict situations.

jim murphyJim Murphy has a solo consulting practice called Management 3000, focusing on organizational development and change management. Being semi-retired, Jim is willing to provide very reasonably priced consulting, coaching or  project work for organizations aspiring to improvement in organizational culture, effectiveness and employee engagement.

Formerly he led the Massachusetts Bay Organizational Development Learning Group, was Human Resources Director for the City of Boston Assessing Department, and served as a consultant with the Boston Management Consortium.  His consulting practice includes management coaching as well as research and writing on employee relationships, leadership, healthcare and collaborative practices.  Having produced newsletters for several organizations  and being a frequent content writer for the”Confident Voices in Healthcare” blog, he is interested in writing and research opportunities, as well as consulting and coaching.  He is an avid walker, widespread library visitor, and proud parent! or email

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