Allison Macerollo, MD, director of Medical Student Education, offers some advice on best practices when working with medical students.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.”
  3. Base feedback on direct observation: Observe the student whenever possible. Let them practice giving the plan, counseling on behavior change.
  4. Make feedback timely and a regular occurrence: Try to give feedback every day, even as often as after each patient.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.”
  7. 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.”
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

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