Getting to Yes, And

Val Lantz-Gefroh: The Compassionate Practice


Val Lantz-Gefroh

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Kelly connects with Val Lantz-Gefroh who is the first Artistic Director for the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine in Texas. She uses improvisational techniques to train physicians.

Why would a medical school need an Artistic Director?

“Think about a medical school in which physicians were trained to think not about where they're going to be in four years, but where they're going to be in a decade or two decades. And since we don't even know what medicine is going to look like in four years, how can we train for 10 or 20 years down the road? And so the mission was to train future physicians to be empathetic scholars. So that they're lifelong learners. They're always thinking of what comes next. And that they're really thinking from the perspective of what it is to be in the patient's shoes, what is it to be in a team member's shoes, because those are things that are never going to go out of style. And ironically, the more that technology takes over, which I think is something that we're all finding right now in this pandemic, the more that what we really need to get back to is the core of what it is to be a person and to behave in a company passionate way.”

And the teaching isn’t just about taking care of patients, it’s about taking care of yourself so you can take care of patients, right?

“I'm standing in a place of, you know, great admiration and wonder for what they're navigating in this moment. And I think that has shed light for me on what a day in the life of a physician can be. That's so different from what most of us navigate. So yeah, there are certainly tools that I hope can be helpful on that journey, but also I think part of the big thing that we're working on is an opportunity for them to be self reflective and heal themselves.”

You could have never imagined as a young theatre artists to be in the job you’re in now.

“You know, I'm at NASA and I'm at the National Science Foundation and talking to these brilliant people and they're listening to me and I'm thinking like, wow, how did this happen? You know, this is crazy. And what I realized is that I had spent so much of my life prior to that moment, sitting around, waiting for the phone to ring. And maybe this goes back to my value of time  because of my brother's death. But, looking back on it, it just seemed like such a colossal waste of my time. And, and I really feel like theater training and improvisation takes us into a recognition of who we are as people that most other fields just don't have. They're not given the perspective to think about each other in the same way. And the value of that is huge and vast and really exciting.”

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