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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Jody Strickler's 70C Critical Role-Playing Trains Doctors

In one week, Josephine “Jody” Strickler 70C might come down with a case of appendicitis, swollen lymph nodes, pneumonia or cystitis. But it’s not a problem, medically speaking. Strickler is a freelance professional actress (Actors’ Equity Association), and she works with young doctors and medical students at the Medical College of Virginia to teach patient interaction skills.

“This week, the med students will have exams,” she explains. “I’ll play someone with an ulcer, and they’ll get a grade for everything from the way they take blood pressure to the way they ask questions and deliver information.” For this critical role, she is rewarded. “I get to see the growth of these young doctors, and I always give them feedback from my seat. I tell them to close with next steps and give patients reassurance. It’s my chance to lobby for patient rights.”

Additionally, she acts on camera and supervises scripts on film shoots. With meticulous attention to detail, Strickler documents every component of script production for commercials. “I take very careful notes about shots, camera angles, takes, cuts, screen directions and dialogue.” She recalls working on a Coca-Cola commercial that involved three days of shooting for a 29-second commercial.

“To keep body and soul together I’ve put together a collection of odd jobs,” she says of the creative lifestyle she’s embraced since college. “I’ve used my craft in the corporate environment. I embody real employees and their characteristics and flaws in videotaped role-playing situations to help managers develop skills to deliver assessments and performance evaluations. I never break character, and I respond to the challenges and questions they present. It’s a 30-minute improvisation that adds real value to a business.”

With a childhood nickname of Sarah Bernhardt, this mom of two college-aged kids “used to tell everyone I wanted to be an actor,” Strickler says. At Emory, Strickler participated in the University’s glee club and studied history after taking a self-directed one-year abroad to Istanbul, Turkey. Now, her diversified talents have led her to a one-of-a-kind career.

When speaking to a local Girl Scout troop, she recalls, “I told the girls the truth. After college, I went out in life and asked, ‘What is out here for me?’ But questions get answered naturally, and opportunities present themselves like potholes in the road. Always stay open to new ideas.”

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