I’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, Medical Improv: A New Way to Teach Communication (with 15 Activities You Can Teach STAT!) is a train-the-trainer resource designed to help healthcare leaders bring this dynamic learning to their staff.
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
For instance, “Same Time Story” described in the book with facilitation tips and discussion questions, is an excellent activity for developing empathy and listening skills as seen in this video.
Another activity (not in my book) is called Physical Phone. It is easy to teach, incredibly fun, and potentially very valuable if framed in the context of a Medical Improv learning session.
Using Physical Phone to explain this bridge between improv and healthcare.
If you watch the video and try it just for fun as we 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?
I’m pretty sure people will enjoy the experience and walk back into their clinical 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!