Healthcare Improv to Enhance Interprofessional Communication and Patient Care

Thursday, August 13, 2020, 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm EDT

This interactive seminar will address optimizing the interprofessional clinical learning environment, and clinical practice, through the principles of improvisational theatre. The skills utilized by improvisational actors demonstrate their ability to accept uncertainty and ambiguity. Health care providers require these same skills to effectively practice in an intrinsically unpredictable environment. Improvisational actors count on their fellow actors to expand on ideas as they create a scene on stage. They listen carefully while observing body language, paying attention not only to the words but also to the emotional context. They do all of this while focusing completely on the moment. These skills of listening, observing, and responding are also key skills utilized in clinical practice. Medical improv, an emerging field, is the adaptation of improvisational theater principles and exercises to enhance communication, teamwork, empathy, and resilience (Watson, 2011; Fu, 2018; Gao et al., 2019). This course will introduce select improvisational exercises that have a direct application to interprofessional and education collaborative practice.


During this workshop, participants will:

1. gain an understanding of the key “rules” of improv and how they relate to effective communication.

2. participate in/observe select improvisational exercises that reinforce skills required for effective communication and teamwork.

3. discuss how improvisational techniques can be used to improve communication with patients, families, and other health care providers.

This seminar will use active learning strategies of improvisational exercises and group debriefs.



Fu, B. (2018). Common ground: Frameworks for teaching improvisational ability in medical education. Teaching and Learning in Medicine, 31(3), 342-355,

Gao, L., Peranson, J., Nyhof-Young, J., Kapoor, E., Rezmovitz, J. (2019). The role of “improv” in health professional learning: A scoping review. Medical Teacher, 41 (5), 561-568 https://doi: 10.1080/0142159X.2018.1505033

Watson, K. (2011). Perspective: Serious play: Teaching medical skills with improvisational theater techniques. Academic Medicine, 86 (10), 1260-1265. https://doi:10.1097/ACM.0b013e31822cf858


Contact the presenter team:

Teresa Lyons Hegdahl

MarySue Ingman PT, DSc

Katie Molitor, MA, RN, CHSE®  

Linda Blazovich DNP RN CNE CHSE


Renee Broughten, DC, PhD