Friday, April 1, 2011

So You Want More Feedback?

Learners, do you want the truth?  Can you handle the truth?  In order to receive better feedback from your teachers, you need to take an active part in the process.  Here's how:

1. Remember that not all feedback is positive.  You need demonstrate a higher level of maturity and self awareness in order to improve.

2. Create your own learning goals and share them.  If your teacher knows what you want to learn, they can provide more focused feedback.  Don't forget to ask your supervisor for input when creating goals in order to keep you goals realistic.

3.  If you're not getting feedback, ask for it.  Emergency physicians are action oriented and a passive leaner will get left behind.

4.  Clarify.  If your teacher says, "You did a great job today," don't be satisfied with your performance.  Ask them what you did well and what needs improvement.  You won't improve if you don't know where you need improvement.

5. If you get some negative feedback, understand that it is meant not as a personal attack, but an opportunity to improve.  Find out from you teacher what the issue is, why it is an issue, and what you need to do about it.  If there is an interpersonal issue (rare occurrence) with the teacher, ask your advisor to help you work through the issue.

6. Don't forget to discuss your success as well as what needs improvement.  You don't want to lose those skills that you do well.

7.  You are probably your harshest critic.  Don't be too hard on yourself.  Take the credit when you do something well.

8.  Be aware of yourself.  If you are feeling stressed, rushed, or simply tired, don't be afraid to ask to reschedule for a time when you have your mental faculties in line.

Your teachers want you to succeed.  Sometimes we're equally rushed or simply afraid of giving you the advice you need.  Following the above list will help us maximize your potential.


  • Rider EA

  • Longmaid HE. 

  • Feedback in Clinical Medical Education: Guidelines for Learners on Receiving Feedback. JAMA. 1995274(12): 938.

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