Using Improv as a Tool for Fostering Mentorship Among Medical and Pre-medical Students
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PURPOSE: Advising for pre-medical students can be reinforced and strengthened by involving current medical students. Medical students can improve their own communication skills and give back to medical community by mentoring students interested in healthcare. We focus here on the development of a structured series of activities, based on improv theater techniques to facilitate this relationship. A strong medical community depends upon open, safe relationships between colleagues; these workshops aim to create a foundation for this space and an area where students feel comfortable interacting and asking about current practices in medical education. METHODS: Both medical and pre-medical students participate together in a series of integrated improv workshops focused on communication skills using curriculum developed in a previous study with medicals students and faculty at the medical school. The workshops take place over multiple, facilitated, 2-hour sessions, and students build communication and deep listening skills over time by participating in increasingly complex exercises. Focus groups with workshop participants will be conducted to gauge the viability of improv as a medium for mentorship. RESULTS: Focus groups will be conducted with both pre-medical and medical students and feedback will be collected at the end of the sessions. It is anticipated that these results will lead to further refinement of the improv workshops with a special emphasis on fostering a sense of community and identifying methods of reinforcing communication between groups. CONCLUSION: Mentorship between medical and pre-medical students is an important component of medical education. Improv theater is a useful tool for creating mentorship opportunities while also teaching the communication skills that are crucial for a successful career in medicine.