Medical Improvisation; An Emerging Role in The Health Profession.


Medical Improvisation; An Emerging Role in The Health Profession.

Medical Improvisation is taking the methodologies of improvisation and applies specific tools and principles to support health professional learning and match health goals.  The process results in a practical approach to connecting, collaborating, and developing new ideas in a world with ambiguity and change.  The Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Feinberg School of Medicine, Ross School of Medicine are just a few of the many that are utilizing this approach for patient-doctor and patient-nurse communication as well as inner office connections.

Use of improv technique:

Improvisation, when applied correctly and in line with the organizational structure, has a measurable and positive impact resulting in a cohesive, sustainable approach to connecting with the big picture in an authentic manner. The strategy gives participants the ability to utilize the growth mindset and practice the necessary skills needed, and create genuine connections while employing.  The core principals of improvisation are equality, collaboration, flexibility, responsiveness, and differing perspectives.

Recent research* on the nursing profession and allied health profession describes an improvement in mutual trust, confidence, teamwork, and creative thinking after using improv.

Mayo Clinic conducted a longitudinal study* that explains a decrease in resident burnout through the introduction of arts and humanities techniques by medical improv.

Here are what two professionals shared after employing applied improvisation with their patients:

“With patients who are really angry at me for whatever reason, I’ll try to calm them down by trying to find something to actually agree on,” Chan said. “So that’s the first rule of improv: ‘yes, and.’ It’s hard to argue with someone if you find something to agree on.” – Dr. Carolyn Chan (2016)

 “Yet, the practice of medicine is spontaneous and sometimes risky. If educators teach students to treat carefully, even in replicated encounters, how can physicians be expected to form genuine relationships with their patients”. Anu Alturu (2016)

Use of Medical Improv:

With severe concerns to patient outcomes; compensation, communication, and interpersonal strengths, professional relations are getting more attention in healthcare. Healthcare institutions need medical professionals to work together as interconnected teams to provide patient care with clear communication. Medical improv is now being viewed as an essential approach to mastering communication strengths and is offered through professional developments, train the trainer, as well as single and group lessons for patients.  Connect with us for more information  

Christiana Frank and her teams at Team Building On Purpose and KidScape Productions offer certified practitioners and trainers that will come directly to your location offering ongoing training’s in person, online or interactive modules.

Participants will practice and learn to:

  • React at the time of presenting information, avoiding limiting ideas or confirmation bias.
  • Be aware during communication; using authentic and attentive listening.
  • Remain open to failure of ideas or notions considering new or evolving information.
  • Identify how status influences our verbal and non-verbal communication in every dealing.
  • Accept and build on offers resulting in productive collaborations with colleagues and patients.
  • Increase empathy, self-awareness and reading body language in self and others.


Medical Improv is the careful selection and application of improvisation theatre principles that match medical skills and desired results. So, while improv is performed for entertainment by actors, medical improv is performed by health professionals care and follow-through.

Healthcare professionals, who learn to be radically present with their patients will see an increase of positive connections and fewer misunderstandings and time repeating. 


Gao, J. Peranson, J. Nyhof-Young, E. Kapoor & J. Rezmovitz (2018): The role of “improv” in health professional learning: A scoping review, Medical Teacher, DOI: 10.1080/0142159X.2018.1505033

Henry, Tanya. “Preventing burnout in the residency programs: Mayo Clinic’s unique approach.” AMA Wire. 2016

Boynton, Beth. “Nursing Research Indicates Improv Technique Improves Communication.” 2016

Brotman, Barbara. “Northwestern medical students practice improv.” Chicago Tribune February 15, 2010

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