Drama Role-play Alternation Workshop

a springboard intervention technique for medical education

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Why role-play doesn't work

Why role-play doesn't work

Role-play has been used in medical education since the time of Hippocrates. The trainee plays the part of a doctor, someone else plays the part of the patient, and they role-play some challenging scenario, typically followed by class discussion.

But the trainee doesn't get as much out of the process as she should. Why not? Because she's not engaged; she knows it's not real; she's not emotionally immersed in the scenario. DRAW repairs this. It interweaves professional TV drama to deepen the immersion. OK, you're thinking the class views the drama and then a trainee role-plays and discusses it? No, it's more than that. It's all to do with the springboard moment. And the result is that the trainee is better engaged and there is a much improved outcome from the role-play.


What is DRAW?

DRAW uses TV drama to lead into the role-play. Within the drama, a challenge is identified that provides a training opportunity. The class views a lead-in from the drama up to the springboard moment. Viewing is then interrupted and role-play with the trainee immediately takes over.

what is a springboard moment?

Elements of a DRAW session

For more detailed information on how to set up a DRAW session, click here. The text below gives only the bare outlines.

Source material

Source material must be carefully chosen to produce a successful DRAW scenario. The clip must involve a teaching opportunity, but not all such opportunities that arise in TV or film dramas can be converted successfully. Candidate clips must be assessed under four headings: (a) is the drama convincing and credible from a medical point of view? (b) is it emotionally involving? (c) does this involvement hook quickly (we are interested only in short clips)? (d) does the doctor face a clear challenge with more than one path that might be followed? And last, but most importantly, (d) is there a springboard moment? Remember: a DRAW session does not simply comprise a class viewing and discussing interesting video clips, nor is it a loose association of video viewing and role-play.

Springboard moment

A key element in the setting up of A DRAW scenario is the identification of a springboard moment. This is the moment in the drama where the doctor is faced with her difficult decision. She must now act; but how? The problem has been explained by the previous dramatic action; the class is emotionally involved in the dramatic situation; and now the doctor faces her problem -- there has been a mistake, bad news must be broken, expectations must be managed, competence has been questioned, and so on. All eyes are on the doctor. She opens her mouth to speak -- and the video is paused. Now a postgraduate junior doctor is selected from the class and the role-play begins, with the DRAW facilitator playing the part of the other party -- the relative, the patient, the colleague, as appropriate.

DRAW session

A DRAW session might involve a half-day comprising a half-dozen scenarios covering a range of challenges. Pay attention to the quality of the image and sound in the projection equipment. Ideally, the class size will be a least a dozen, to provide a range of points of view. Having two facilitators produces a welcome variation. Neither needs to be a pillar of local am-dram, but some acting ability is necessary. For each scenario, the video is played, it is paused at the chosen springboard moment, and role-play takes over with a facilitator playing the patient/relative and the trainee playing the doctor. After the role-play, the trainee is asked how they thought it went, then class discussion takes place. Finally, the dramatic resolution of the video clip is played.

What our junior doctors are saying ...

  • Novel concept — salvaging a failing consultation rather than plain role-play set in an ideal world

    F2 doctor #2
  • Great video editing, enjoyable interaction, very realistic

    F2 doctor
  • Fun to do with video clips — good way to introduce scenarios

    ST2 GP trainee

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