Theatre and drama skills were brought into Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar (WCM-Q) for a new workshop designed to help healthcare professionals enhance their communication strategies.

The one-day Fundamentals of Improvisation to Enhance Communication Skills online workshop was organised by the Division of Continuing Professional Development and led by Moos d’Herripon, an associate professor of performing arts at Northwestern University in Qatar.

WCM-QThe workshop aims to show how techniques used by actors could also be used by healthcare professionals when communicating difficult or ’emotionally challenging’ news to patients, or when explaining complex issues. The class looked at using the pitch and tone of their voice with a voice training session, and also examined the importance of body language and its role in communicating empathy.

The workshop was not about creating actors, but rather giving people the skills they need for life and medicine. Using improvisation techniques commonly used in theatre allowed the healthcare professionals to explore issues like presence, vulnerability, truth, and consciousness. The workshop also showed  how to pay greater attention to the way a patient reacts and how to adapt to change ‘in the moment’.

Deema Al Sheikhly, Director of Medical Education and Continuing Professional Development at WCM-Q, said it had been an eye-opening workshop.

One would imagine that the worlds of medicine and theatre are almost diametrically opposed – one concerned with science, medicine and hard facts, and the other with the arts, emotions and the imagination.

But medicine, of course, is one centred in humanity and healthcare professionals deal with the human side of medicine on a daily basis; hospitals are not research laboratories, they are places full of emotion, from joy to grief.

The workshop, according to Al Sheikhly, really helped the participants to consciously think about the way they communicate, and gave them strategies and techniques for improving their communication skills, particularly in difficult situations.

I would like to thank Moos for sharing her vast experience and knowledge with us.

For updates and more information about WCM-Q, visit qatar-weill.cornell.edu.