Michael Smith, MD, to speak at TEDx Omaha

Michael Smith, MD

Michael Smith, MD

Michael Smith, MD, is a hospitalist, physician and award-winning educator by day — and an improv performer by night. On Nov. 18, Dr. Smith will join eight other thought leaders on the TEDx Omaha stage to share ideas around the theme of “EDGE: Explore. Discover. Grow. Engage.”

Each TEDx Omaha 2023 speaker will share stories of being on the edge, at the cusp of discovery and growth, often laden with fear and discomfort. Dr. Smith will share how high-performing professionals can expand beyond the box of their professional title, grow their performance at work and discover more joy in their life by saying “Yes” to the gifts of improv.

In 2014, Dr. Smith received improv classes as a Christmas gift from his wife. Having no theater experience and only a curiosity, he attended. Little did he know at the time, those classes would be the first step on an exhilarating and rewarding journey. 

Today, Dr. Smith performs monthly at the Backline Comedy Club with two local improv teams. This is much more than a side hobby — he has found a way to leverage improv skills into his everyday life and career, and he believes everyone can do the same.

“The major principle of improv is ‘Yes, and…’ which says you are going to acknowledge the world around you and also take part in changing it for the better,” Dr. Smith said. “You are going to leave a mark on the worlds you interact with.”  

Dr. Smith has led more than 100 workshops using improv to educate other health care providers and professionals across the country in communication, wellness and leadership skills. He also now teaches the same class that started him on the journey at the Backline Comedy Club. Here at UNMC, Dr. Smith has served as a faculty contributor on the annual Power Presentations Faculty Development certificate program. In February and March 2024, he will lead a four-part advanced communications skills faculty development course, “Thinking on Your Feet: SAVE Yourself.” 

The class that Dr. Smith’s wife gave him in 2014 is a gift that keeps on giving. “I think there was a time my wife regretted giving me that gift because I was at an improv rehearsal or show so frequently,” he said. “But now I can say with certainty that I am a much better partner, father and human because of the time I have spent practicing empathy and listening through improv.”

TEDx Omaha will take place Nov. 18 at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business. Tickets are available online.  

Faculty interested in joining Dr. Smith’s “Thinking on Your Feet” advanced communications skills workshops can learn more and register through the UNMC Faculty Development website

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