Allison Macerollo, MD, director of Medical Student Education, offers some advice on best practices when working with medical students.
- Establish a respectful learning environment: At Ohio State we want all learning environments to be positive and supportive to students. Feedback is most productive when provided in private, given in a neutral tone and focuses on both strengths and opportunities for growth.
- Communicate goals and objectives for feedback: You and the student should develop goals for the month, the day and even the specific patient. Example: “Go see Mr. Jones and perform a history and be prepared to provide three items for the differential.”
- Base feedback on direct observation: Observe the student whenever possible. Let them practice giving the plan, counseling on behavior change.
- Make feedback timely and a regular occurrence: Try to give feedback every day, even as often as after each patient.
- Begin the session with the learner’s self-assessment: Asking a student what they want to focus on during that session can help you assess them more easily — a win/win for both parties.
- Reinforce and correct observed behaviors: The learner can self-assess, and the teacher can validate and then provide suggestions for change. Example: “Getting a more detailed social history would allow you to identify barriers.”
- Use specific, neutral language to focus on performance: Feedback must be focused on changeable things. Example: “You spoke very quickly — pausing can ensure you listen to the patient.”
- Confirm the learner’s understanding and facilitate acceptance: If they do not understand the feedback how can students improve? Assure the learner is not too overwhelmed with emotional response to accept feedback at the present time.
- Conclude with an action plan: The student needs to know next steps. You and the learner can develop the plan with input from each of you.
- Reflect on your feedback skills: We are all working to improve, so assess yourself after a feedback session to determine what you can do better next time.
Adopted from 12 tips on giving effective feedback.