Session Two: Developing Attunement Skills Via Medical Improvisation

July 24, 2023 to July 28, 2023

It has long been recognized that the practice of physical and mental health care involves adaptation to unexpected challenges.  Recently a new movement spearheaded at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine has begun using improvisational acting exercises to teach physicians, psychotherapists, nurses, and pharmacists the ability to respond flexibly in the face of change.  Medical improvisation has shown promise in promoting a wide variety of additional communication skills, including empathy, mindfulness, affirmation, collaboration, and authenticity.  While the effects of practicing medical improv can often be humorous, participants do not need to be “funny” to do it.  The leaders of this largely experiential workshop will draw on their close collaboration with Paul Sills, founding director of Chicago’s Second City, who used improvisation to train renowned actors such as Alan Arkin and Alan Alda. After an overview of current research and theory in medical improvisation, the bulk of the week will be devoted to engaging in and discussing a series of simple and entertaining improv exercises in a safe, highly supportive atmosphere. No previous experience with improvisation is required.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn about literature documenting the importance of spontaneity and improvisational ability in medicine, psychotherapy, pharmacy, and other health-related fields
  • Understand Fu’s (2019) classification of medical improvisation’s goals and core skills into three categories: (a). Attunement (knowledge of self and others), (b). Affirmation (validation of self and others), and (c). Advancement (enrichment of self and others)
  • Review research demonstrating the importance of patient-centered communication in improving clinical outcomes, reducing malpractice suits, and enhancing patient satisfaction
  • Practice micro-communication skills via medical improvisation, including mindfulness, empathy, agreement, adaptation to feedback, comfort with failure, etc.
Additional information


Jess Noonan
Phone Number: 
+1 (414) 955-7276
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 15.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™
    AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™
  • 15.00 Hours of Participation
    Hours of Participation credit.
Course opens: 
Course expires: 
Event starts: 
07/24/2023 - 9:00am CDT
Event ends: 
07/28/2023 - 12:15pm CDT

Frederick J. Heide, Ph.D. is Adjunct Professor at the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University in the San Francisco Bay Area. There he was a member of the core faculty for 37 years and won both the Master Teacher and Teacher of the Year Awards.   He earned his doctorate in clinical psychology from Pennsylvania State University in 1981 and has presented at MCW’s Door County Summer Institute for 23 continuous seasons. Dr. Heide received the Outstanding Research Contribution Award from the Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy (AABT) for his foundational work on relaxation-induced anxiety and has published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Psychophysiology, Mindfulness, Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, Behavior Research and Therapy, Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, and elsewhere.  He also served as associate editor of the APA journal PsycCRITIQUES. Dr. Heide co-founded and has performed for almost five decades with Door County’s Northern Sky Theater, which has received the Wisconsin Governor’s Award for Arts, Culture and Heritage. He has recorded three albums and co-authored 20 shows including Packer Fans from Outer Space and Belgians in Heaven (both with Lee Becker and James Kaplan), as well as the deer-hunting musical Guys & Does (with Lee Becker and Paul Libman).  Dr. Heide also co-created several shows with Second City’s founding director Paul Sills, including Moon of the Long Nights, Tales of the Midnight Sun, and Ya Ya You Betcha.


Lee Becker began improvising over 35 years ago with ComedySportz while attending UW Madison. He helped found ComedySportz NYC, and also worked with the group in Milwaukee, performing and running workshops in all three locations. He is a core member of Northern Sky Theater where he is a performer, musician, and playwright. Lee was a founding member of Door Shakespeare in Door County, WI, and has also performed and written for First Stage Children’s Theater in Milwaukee. Along with Doc Heide, he has been a workshop facilitator for DCSI for over 20 years, providing trainings using role play and Spolin theater games. He has done similar work as a guest teacher at Alliant University’s CA School of Professional Psychology.


In accordance with the ACCME® Standards for Integrity and Independence in Accredited Continuing Education, Standard 3, all in control of content must disclose any relevant financial relationships. The following in control of content had no relevant financial relationships to disclose.

Accreditation Statement

The Medical College of Wisconsin is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians

Designation of Credit Statement

The Medical College of Wisconsin designates each week-long session of this live activity for a maximum of 15 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM and each two-day session for a maximum of 6 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. 

Hours of Participation for Allied Health Professionals

The Medical College of Wisconsin designates each week-long session of this live activity for up to 15.0 hours of participation for continuing education for allied health professionals and each two-day session a maximum of 6.0 hours of participation for continuing education for allied health professionals.

Available Credit

  • 15.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™
    AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™
  • 15.00 Hours of Participation
    Hours of Participation credit.


Please login or register to take this course.

Early bird registration until June 1, 2023:

Tuition for 5-day sessions will be reduced to $645 and to $395 for graduate and medical students and resident physicians with a letter from the training director.

Refunds, minus a $50 administrative fee, may be obtained if requested in writing no later than 15 days prior to the beginning of each session. There will be no refunds thereafter.

**The deadline for claiming credit is November 30, 2023, after which you will not be able to obtain your credits. From December 1, 2023 to December 31, 2023 you can claim credit for a $25 fee paid to the Office of Continuing Professional Development.**



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