Medical school introduces improv into its curriculum

Residency Program Insider, April 12, 2011

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Learning how to be a physician is no laughing matter—until now. The Medical Humanities and Bioethics Program at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago partnered with the Second City improv group to teach medical students how to communicate on-the-spot with patients, according to an article in Second City alumni include famous comedians, such as John Belushi and Bill Murray.

"A lot of these improv exercises are about whether you can have your brain, body, and emotions 100% in this moment, not looking forward or backward," said Watson, an assistant professor at Northwestern's Medical Humanities and Bioethics Program who also teaches at Second City, according to article. "That is the foundation of the art form of improvisation, and it's important, absolutely, for physicians in dealing with patients and their teammates and collaborators as well."

The elective, four-week class, "Playing Doctor," does not focus on medical scenarios. Students role play several different scenarios that encourage them to explore different emotions and situations.


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