Medical education resources

Feel free to browse the following pages for examples of my creative material for use in medical education. Please note, however, that the material is protected by copyright and is not to be used without written permission. If you are interested in using any of my material or in commissioning me to create scripted role plays to fit your specific requirements, please contact me through this website.

An exception to this are the scripted role plays for use in medical education which are made available under a Creative Commons (CC) license.  Under this license, the scripted role plays and session plans are freely available for  non-commercial use / modification by others (with appropriate attribution). This material can be found via the scripted role play menu (click link or see menu bar).

If you’re interested in further Australian medical education resources, check out the excellent MedEdPurls blog by very experienced educator, Dr Cathy Regan at

Creative Commons License
Scripted Role Play Material by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

Contributions from other educators are very welcome (please contact me through this website with your submission and I will upload it).

Using Scripted Role Plays in Medical Education.

I’m told: I forget, I’m shown: I learn. I do:  I understand.

It is well established that the use of role plays in medical education can be of great value.  Role plays allow participants to reflect on, consolidate and embed concepts; to practise new skills and try different approaches to clinical scenarios; and to empathise more deeply with others.  The opportunity to “walk a mile in another’s shoes” is a powerful way to develop understanding of and sympathy towards colleagues and patients alike.

However, unscripted role plays have significant limitations.  Firstly, the quality of the role play is very dependent on the participants’ knowledge and confidence. Secondly, it is difficult for a facilitator to control what, when and how information is imparted.  Thirdly, and most limiting of all, in Genevieve’s experience, is that many people loathe them.  Some see the experience as frivolous and a waste of time, and many are terrified by the thought of improvising in front of their peers.  The performance anxiety experienced by these participants can greatly decrease the quality of the material imparted and the educational experience of both the role players and the audience.

Since 2009, I have been using scripted and semi-scripted role plays in medical education throughout Australia.  The approaches I have developed (outlined below) have managed to retain most of the educational advantages of traditional role plays (e.g. experiential learning, development of empathy) while eliminating or reducing many of the limitations (e.g. lack of control over subject matter, quality of information imparted).  Participants find the scripted role play experience far less threatening than a traditional role play, and, almost universally, have reported that they’ve enjoyed being involved.  The feedback regarding the educational value has also been very positive from both participants and observers.

Although the techniques can be used in any area of medical education, I have found them particularly suitable in teaching communication skills, medico legal topics, ethics, palliative care, adolescent health and doctors’ health and wellbeing.

Scripted role plays:

Part 1: A play script (or excerpt) is used.  Participants are “cast” and given parts to read (preferably ahead of time).  The script is read aloud (with/without minimal props and actions).  Memorisation is not required.  Stage directions (if included) are read by the facilitator.  Length of script can vary (I have used scripts from 5 minutes to 1 hour long).

Part 2: The participants involved in the reading stay “in character” and questions are asked of them from fellow cast members and the audience (plus/minus the facilitator if required) after the reading.  Despite involving improvisation, this does not provoke the same level of anxiety in participants as is seen in traditional role plays, perhaps because their “characters” are firmly established and therefore they don’t feel at risk of their personal feelings, attitudes and skills being judged by the group.

Part 3: A formal exercise is used to de-role participants.

Part 4: Facilitator-led group discussion is generated around the play’s plot, characters and themes.

Semi-scripted role plays:

As above, except instead of a full script being provided, a play outline is used.  The key difference is that participants use their own words.  Character descriptions and the plot are given as are guidance notes re: who speaks when and what information is to be imparted.  These can be quite detailed or left largely open to the participants, depending on the session’s aims.  The specific words can be delivered spontaneously, prepared in advance, or scripted during the first part of the session.  This activity can be used as part of a creative writing workshop.


Short scripted role plays for use in medical education can be found here:

Physician Heal Thyself is a one act play written in 2009 designed to be used as the basis of self care workshops for doctors and other health professionals.  It is a fictional “day in the life of” a busy GP, who is faced with a multitude of personal, patient and staff challenges during a particularly stressful working day.

“What Would the Coroner Think?” is a 20 minute film designed to be used as a teaching tool to initiate discussion on a broad range of themes relevant to GP training.  It comes as a kit which includes the DVD and different teaching guides to help use the DVD with GP registrars, supervisors and medical educators.

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