Yes, And! Exploring Communication and Interpersonal Interactions with Medical Improv
Communication and interpersonal interactions are essential in the practice of patient-and family-centered, team-based collaborative healthcare. Continuous learning and reflection on communication skills are important for all members of the healthcare team, with great benefit when done interprofessionally. Medical improvisation (improv) is the adaptation of improvisational theater principles and skills to the healthcare context. These skills of deep listening, clear information delivery, affirming others and spontaneity are essential for collaborative care and shared decision making amongst the healthcare team, patients and families.
The aim of this project is to study an interprofessional team’s experiences and reactions from participating in a medical improv workshop.
We developed a 2-hour medical improv workshop based on the curriculum from the 5th International Medical Improv Train-the-Trainer Workshop at Northwestern University. The workshop was presented to the Froedtert and Medical College of Wisconsin Palliative Care Team, which consists of faculty and resident physicians, advanced practice providers, nurses, a nurse coordinator, a social worker and a chaplain. The participants were asked to complete an anonymous pre- and post-session reflection survey.
The data was analyzed using descriptive statistics and qualitative methods of theme coding.
15 surveys were collected from the workshop.
1. Introspection- Increased awareness of emotions and character portrayal
2. Communication- Use of “yes, and” as a tool for conflict resolution
3. Empathy- Increased awareness of others’ emotions and perspectives
There was a notable change in reported emotions before and after the workshop, from emotions such as “nervous,” “curious,” “unsure,” and “apprehensive,” to "energized,” “happy,” “relaxed,” and “excited” post-workshop.
14 of the 15 participants felt that the workshop was a good use of their time, 13 of the 15 stated they would take another medical improv workshop, and 14 of the 15 would recommend this workshop to others.
Medical improv is a unique approach to teaching and practicing communication and interpersonal skills within an interprofessional team. Through the experiential learning process, participants have an opportunity for group- and self-reflection. This led to an increased understanding of team members' perspectives and fostering effective team dynamics. Participants expressed an overall satisfaction with the workshop and also reported feeling more positive emotions post-workshop, suggesting a beneficial secondary impact of improved wellness.
Medical improv has value in teaching communication skills, encouraging personal introspection, developing appreciation and understanding of team members, and facilitating wellness across interprofessional healthcare teams.