Health practitioners are increasingly being evaluated for their ability to accept feedback, adapt to change, handle stressful situations and establish rapport. Medical Improv builds the skills needed to handle these difficult situations, interact with diverse cultures, and become sensitive to ever changing healthcare environments.

The medical industry is also faced with data measurement that assesses the quality and cost of care in order to determine reimbursement rates. This ongoing trend is pushing organizations and practitioners to improve their interpersonal relationship skills in order to create positive patient experiences at every level.Assisting Organizations

Preparing for unpredictability is the paradox shared between health care practitioners and improvisers. Improvisational theater teaches every professional to accept uncertainty and ambiguity as conditions of performance, rather than trying to enforce order on something that hasn’t happened yet. Participants are told they have all the information needed for a scene, and no one is “wrong”. Risk-taking is supported and applauded as the improvisers  step into the abyss of the unknown!

It’s probable that most people think of improv as comedy, so the term “Medical Improv” can be confusing. Comedy is focused on humor, whereas improvisational theater is focused on honesty and spontaneity. What makes improv so enjoyable is how the participants behave, which in turn makes us laugh! That’s why Medical Improv is considered “serious play”… the method is fun, but the content is serious. Listening, observing, and being emotionally present are essential. It’s an art form and a skill set, a performance and a practice. The chosen Medical Improv exercises develop self-esteem, spontaneity, problem solving, empathy, collaboration and professionalism…..all the attributes needed to create productive, open, and trusting partnerships.

The core principles of Improvisation include:

  • “Yes, and”, rather than “Yes, but” or “No”. Denying another person’s idea can stop a scene dead in its tracks. Build on your partner’s suggestion by affirming, rather than negating.
  • To be “present” for others with the gift of mindful listening.
  • The need to surrender individual “plans” in order to co-create together.
  • To see “failure” as opportunity…to learn, be human, forgive, and help.

Healthcare may be structured, but it can’t be scripted. By reinforcing the skills of listening, observing, cooperating and adapting through the “serious play” of applied improvisation, safe, quality patient care becomes a reality!

Stephanie Frederick, RN, M.Ed., received Medical Improv training at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois.  She is CEO of Improv to Improve Healthcare!, and offers presentations, workshops, and consultations throughout the U.S. and Canada.  Visit, and contact Stephanie at to arrange an initial free consultation to discuss your organization’s needs.