Workshops for Medical Professionals

TestimonialsWe use innovative methods to help medical professionals learn to connect and communicate responsively with patients, families, colleagues and the public. The Alda Center method includes improvisational theater exercises, as well as other techniques, to help doctors-in-training learn to listen intently, read verbal and nonverbal cues, and respond with greater empathy.

Workshop Options

Note: Medical students or clinicians whose goals are not specifically related to doctor-patient communication may participate in Workshops for Scientists.

Program

Time Needed

Typical # Participants

Distilling Your Message
(Interactive Plenary)
1-2 hours
Unlimited
Improvisation
(Session)
2-3 hours
Groups of 20
Workshop
0.5-1 days
Groups of 20

Workshop Descriptions and Sample Agendas

Please browse our workshop selections below. Click on any of the options to expand a text description or sample agenda.

Distilling Your Message (Interactive Plenary)


This interactive session introduces participants to general principles in how to craft short, clear, conversational statements, intelligible to non-scientists, about what you do and why it matters. The session consists of an interactive presentation and discussion on interpreting technical material using examples and analogies to illuminate unfamiliar concepts to your audience. The plenary will address problems and solutions in public interactions as well as peer-to-peer communication.  Participants will practice clarity in speaking to non-scientists about their work and may be actively engaged in improvisation exercises or explaining scientific material to lay people.

Space and Technical Requirements: The plenary requires a projector, laptop with internet connection and sound for video, lavalier microphone, technical support for presentation set-up, wireless clicker and flip chart or whiteboard. For a large audience, hand held microphones to pass around are also required.

Improvisation (Session)

3- hour Improvisation Session for Medical Professionals  (groups of 20 per instructor)

Improvisation for Medical Professionals is a workshop pioneered by science advocate, Alan Alda. Participants will take part in improvisational theater exercises aimed at helping them connect more directly and spontaneously with different audiences. This is not about turning scientists into actors or comedians, but about helping the participant recognize and engage with the audience on a level where the message of the scientist can land effectively with the listener. These games require participants to pay close, dynamic attention to others and emphasize the two-way nature of communication: What is received counts more than what is said. Through the course of training, participants will investigate body language, listen with more awareness, and respond with greater sensitivity.

Space and Technical Requirements: Improvisation requires a large (minimum 30’ x 30’) open space with movable chairs. The workshop can be noisy, which should be considered when booking space. 

Half-Day Workshop


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This workshop is for 20 participants and 2 Alda Center Instructors. It can be expanded to a full-day workshop to accommodate a second group in the afternoon.  

8:00 – 8:30am: Breakfast and Check-in

8:30 – 10:00am: Opening Plenary, unlimited participants

This interactive session introduces participants to general principles in how to craft short, clear, conversational statements, intelligible to non-scientists, about what you do and why it matters. The session consists of an interactive presentation and discussion on interpreting technical material using examples and analogies to illuminate unfamiliar concepts to your audience. The plenary will address problems and solutions in public interactions as well as peer-to-peer communication.  Participants will practice clarity in speaking to non-scientists about their work and may be actively engaged in improvisation exercises or explaining scientific material to lay people.

Space and Technical Requirements: The plenary requires a projector, laptop with internet connection and sound for video, lavalier microphone, technical support for presentation set-up, wireless clicker and flip chart or whiteboard. For a large audience, hand held microphones to pass around are also required.

10:00 – 10:15am: Break

10:15am – 1:15pm: Improvisation and Connection for Doctors

This session combines the use of Improvisation exercises and Distilling Your Message exercises focused on talking clearly and conversationally about science/medicine, without jargon or “dumbing it down.”  The goal is to help participants connect more directly and spontaneously with their patients. Improvisational theater exercises require you to pay close, dynamic attention to others, to read body language and nonverbal cues, and to respond freely.  This is not about acting or making things up. It is about shifting your focus from what you are saying to what the other person is receiving.  This can help you make a more direct and personal connection with your audience.  The sessions content incorporates the fundamental approaches of the Alda Center, including using improvisational techniques to facilitate interpersonal connection and empathy.

Space and Technical Requirements: Improvisation requires a large (minimum 30’ x 30’) open space with movable chairs. The workshop can be noisy, which should be considered when booking space.

 


We have conducted presentations or workshops for:
  • Rockefeller University
  • Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
  • Cornell University
  • American Association of Medical Colleges
  • Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology
  • Council of Graduate Schools Annual Meeting
  • Mount Sinai Medical Center
  • Nassau County Department of Health
  • National Cancer Institute
  • Weill Cornell Medical College
  • National Cancer Institute
  • World Science Festival
  • National Institutes of Health
  • University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
  • New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
  • Nassau County (NY) Department of Health
  • Council of Faculty and Academic Societies (AAMC)
  • American Physiological Society
  • And many more…

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