Improv in Health Professions Education

Improv in Health Professions Education

The Improv SIG is a welcoming group for anyone interested in applied improv. This SIG aspires to honor the core values of improv – to be present, play as part of a team, champion others, and co-create. We hope to create a vibrant community rooted in a culture of mutual respect, support and cooperation.

The SIG will also focus on advancing improv research in health professions education. In this unique space, we hope to bring brilliant minds, supportive spirits and passions together to curate resources, network and collaborate with other members globally to produce high quality research.

We will be a space for knowledge exchange to allow individual and collective learning and progress.


We are…

… a group of educators and researchers who use improvisational theatre techniques to teach essential healthcare skills.

Improvisational techniques have been used in health communication training to teach skills related to empathy, communication, teamwork, and resilience. This work started with Viola Spolin in the United States and has roots in the UK through Keith Johnstone’s Impro. Improv is based on the concept that we can better connect with each other if we learn how to listen closely and respond in a way that enriches the lives of ourselves and others. Medical Improv is a growing field in the United States and in other countries. We would like to create a community to bring practitioners together. By creating spaces and mechanisms to share ideas, insights and experiences we can move the field forward with a diversity of perspectives.

In this SIG, communication teachers, curriculum designers, and researchers will find a space to share ideas about how to incorporate improv and other theatre methods in their own work. There is great potential for these methods to help us address some stubborn problems in healthcare. These include intrenched hierarchies, rigidity, and disconnection among clinicians, patients and families.


  • Members profile <a href="" class="avatar_bpextra" >Anne Graff LaDisa</a>
  • Members profile <a href="" class="avatar_bpextra" >Shannon Hanson</a>
  • Members profile <a href="" class="avatar_bpextra" >Ankit Mehta</a>
  • Members profile <a href="" class="avatar_bpextra" >Sarah Shepherd</a>
  • Members profile <a href="" class="avatar_bpextra" >Amy Zelenski</a>
  • Our plan

    The Improv in Health Professions Education SIG will provide community for those engaged in using improvisational theatre techniques in health professionals training. We hope to spark research and teaching collaborations. We plan to offer webinars on the topic of using improv in health professions education and study the effects of such curriculum.

    Our initial aims include:
    1. Organize meetings of the SIG during the annual ICCH meetings.
    2. Facilitate research and teaching collaborations among SIG members.
    3. Gather information about the needs of the community.

    Conduct first in-person meeting of the SIG during the ICCH Conference in Puerto Rico. At this meeting we will gather contact information in order to create a directory and email listserv.

    In-person meeting during ICCH conference.
    Offer Webinar: How We are Using Improv in Health Professions Education. Survey SIG members to understand the needs/wants of the group. Institute a mentoring structure.

    Follow up on mentoring structure and devise list of collaborative projects during in-person SIG meeting at ICCH.
    Offer Webinar: This is How We are Studying the Effect of Improv in Health Professions Education.

    Learn more about applied improv

    Watson K. Perspective: serious play: teaching medical skills with improvisational theater techniques. Acad Med. 2011;86(10):1260–5.

    Watson K, Fu B. Medical improv: a novel approach to communication and professionalism training. Ann Intern Med. 2016;165: 591–2.

    Kaplan-Liss E, Lantz-Gefroh V, Bass E, Killebrew D, Ponzio NM, Savi C, et al. Teaching medical students to communicate with empathy and clarity using improvisation. Acad Med 2018;93(3):440–3.

    Hoffmann-Longtin K, Rossing JP, Weinstein E. Twelve tips for using applied improvisation in medical education. Med Teach 2018;40(4):351–6.

    Fu B. Common ground: frameworks for teaching improvisational ability in medical education. Teach Learn Med 2019;31(3):342–55.

    Gao L, Peranson J, Nyhof-Young J, Kapoor E, Rezmovitz J. The role of ‘‘improv’’ in health professional learning: a scoping review. Med Teach. 2019;41(5):561–568. doi:10.1080/0142159X.2018. 1505033

    Zelenski AB, Saldivar N, Park LS, Schoenleber V, Osman F, Kraemer S. Interprofessional Improv: using theater techniques to teach health professions students empathy in teams. Acad Med 2020;95(8):1210–4.

    Felsman P, Gunawardena S, Seifert CM. Improv experience promotes divergent thinking, uncertainty tolerance, and affective wellbeing. Think Skills Creat. 2020;35:1871.

    Mehta A, Fu B, Chou E, Mitchell S, Fessell D. Improv: transforming physicians and medicine. Med Sci Educ. 2020;31(1):263–266. doi:10.1007/s40670-020-01174-

    Chan C, Chou E, La Disa A, Mehta A, Zelenski A, Longtin K. Using Nominal Group Technique to Determine Skills that Applied Improvisation can Teach Health Profession Education Learners. PEC Innovation, Volume 3, 2023,100194.