Improv for Nurses/Healthcare Professionals: FAQ!

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Here are some questions my friends and colleagues are asking me about workshops, Improv for Nurses .  Please let me know if you have other questions or bb cherations 10-13 waste up 2nd citywould like any clarification.  I‘ll eventually make a special webpage with these and other questions. 

What are the benefits?

In addition to laughing,  having fun, and supporting each other, Improv for Nurses (Not Actors!) workshops will develop skills and capacities that contribute to individual, team, and organizational behaviors such as:

  • Listening
  • Speaking up
  • Confidence
  • Curiosity
  • Risk-taking
  • Limit-setting
  • Self-knowledge
  • Patience
  • Teamwork
  • Leadership
  • Self-care

We know these are all critical for positive patient experience, safe care, and career satisfaction.

What’s it like?

Mostly fun activities in a small group. Some examples are Dr. Know-it-All, Mirroring, One-word Story and Overload. We do a little brainstorming about communication and collaboration in healthcare and see how we can apply learning related skills to these fun games! I like to leave a few minutes for private reflection.  Some work (or play), is in pairs, or triads, and some is with the whole group.  Some of the warm-up activities you’ve done in conferences are very similar.  In my workshop on Interruptions, we did an activity called overload.  You can get a good idea of that by watching this youtube!  (This wasn’t an Improv workshop, but I used an Improv activity as a teaching/learning tool!)

Improv varies a lot with teaching styles.  Improv for Nurses (Not Actors!) is different than the typical stuff you see on TV or in theatres because instead of focusing on performing we focus on process.  For instance, Dr. Know-it-All can be done by a group of Actors specializing in Improvisation and be extremely funny and entertaining.  In our classes we will focus skills such as listening, speaking up, being present and flexible.  And even the audience gets to learn and practice the art of asking open-ended questions!

Screen shot 2013-03-05 at 5.33.24 PMWhat if I’m nervous?

Some folks get nervous about Improv and I promise to make a safe environment for learning.  Remember the first time you had to give an injection or catheterize someone?  OMG talk about nervous!  It has taken me a long time to be more relaxed.  One of the principals in Improv is to let yourself fail! Plus you’ll get lots of encouragement for your efforts!

What if I’d rather watch than participate?

That’s OK! Watching can be very enriching too!  I’ll encourage you to stretch, but never beyond what YOU want to do!

Does Improv have to be funny?

No.  That is a common misconception.


Will there be an audience?

No. Just the group.

What size is the group?

6-20 or so.

Do I have to prepare?


How did you get interested in teaching Improv?

It’s kind of a long story.  But here’s a short version:  I minored in theater & communication before going to nursing school.  A painful relationship led me to getting counseling and a long, exciting, path of finding my voice.  Along the way, I got my Masters in Organization and Management and developed a model that used theatre games to teach emotional intelligence to kids. It was fun, but an opportunity to teach led me back into healthcare.  I’ve been taking Improv for years with David Lagraffe.  He has a buddist philosophy and teaches both actors and non actors.  I continue to learn so much!

Why nurses?

Well, I have been a practicing RN for over 25 years!  We need fun ways to develop and practice these important skills.  If you are nurse, you know our work is relentlessly stressful physically, emotionally, and intellectually.  You also know about medical error stats, workplace violence, and burnout!  It is all related.

Will you teach other healthcare professionals?

Sure, I’d love to!  And interdisciplinary mixes are a great way to build professional relationships necessary for optimal collaboration!

Can I get CEUs or Contact Hours?

Contact hours, yes.  I provide a paper certificate w/ date, # hours of workshop, and learning objectives consistent w/ CEU criterial.  But I am not licensed to provide CEUs.   I will also be happy to work with organizations in applying for CEU approval.  Most of my workshops have met with approval.  Here is an excerpt from  the NH board of Nursing re: this:

What is the difference between contact hours and continuing education units (CEUs)?

A contact hour is equal to 60 minutes of attendance at an education program, or 50 minutes of time devoted to completion of a self-learning program or computerized program. A CEU is 10 Contact Hours. The requirements for your license renewal are stated in terms of contact hours. Nurses must complete 30 contact hours every 2 years, and LNAs must complete12 contact hours every year.

The Board does not require that your contact hours be earned at conferences that provide “official” contact hours from a professional certifying organization. Any organized learning program that enhances your nursing or nursing assistant knowledge, judgment, or skills may qualify to meet the requirements for re-licensure. You may complete any or all of your contact hours through professional journal continuing education programs or via Internet learning programs. However, in order for self-learning activities to be valid for license renewal, you must complete the journal or Internet process by submitting the post test to the sponsor or complete other requirements in order to receive your certificate. Examples of activities that meet continuing education requirements for licensure are found under Continuing Competence.

What should I wear?

Comfortable clothes.

When and where will you be teaching workshops?

I’m going to start teaching them locally.  Since I live in Portsmouth, NH, I’m going offer 6 hour workshops in Portsmouth, NH, Dover, NH, and York, ME this Spring and Summer.

Will you travel to our hospital or other organization?


How much do your workshops cost?

I have individual and group rates and  I work within various budgets as best as I can.

Can you suggest some resources for learning more?

Sure, my teacher, David Lagraffe’s website,  this article, and this website all offer some interesting insights about the variation and value of Improv.  Lot’s available via google too.  Just remember, Improv for Nurses (Not Actors!) is adapted to support the work you do as a nurse!

Please email me with questions/comments or to schedule a workshop! and check out these testimonials.

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