Future physicians will practice medicine in a more complex environment than ever, where skills of interpersonal communication, collaboration and adaptability to change are critical. Applied improvisation (or AI) is an instructional strategy which adapts the concepts of improvisational theater to teach these types of complex skills in other contexts. Unique to AI is its very active teaching approach, adapting theater games to help learners meet curricular objectives. In medical education, AI is particularly helpful when attempting to build students’ comfort with and skills in complex, interpersonal behaviors such as effective listening, person-centeredness, teamwork and communication. This article draws on current evidence and the authors’ experiences to present best practices for incorporating AI into teaching medicine. These practical tips help faculty new to AI get started by establishing goals, choosing appropriate games, understanding effective debriefing, considering evaluation strategies and managing resistance within the context of medical education.
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