Giving and Receiving Valuable Feedback

By Shannon M Bennett, DO

The importance of feedback:

Feedback is an integral part of the medical education process.  Both learners and educators need to know how to give as well as receive valuable feedback.  We all have areas we can improve upon and effective feedback is intended to guide future performance and growth.

“Helpful feedback is a supportive conversation that clarifies the trainee’s awareness of their developing competencies, enhances their self-efficacy for making progress, challenges them to set objectives for improvement, and facilitates their development of strategies to enable that improvement to occur.”  1

“The ultimate goals for feedback providers are to: (1) increase their own comfort and skill in providing constructive feedback, and (2) to increase in their learners the comfort and skill in seeking, receiving and using feedback.”2

Tips for giving valuable feedback

  • Choose an appropriate time/place (“in the moment” versus a set meeting)
  • Ensure the receiver knows it is feedback
  • Ask the learner to self-assess first
  • Be specific and relevant, focus on observed performance
  • Reinforce good elements, suggest or demonstrate ways to correct/change substandard performance
  • Engage in reflective problem solving (discuss ways to improve)
  • Provide an opportunity for the learner to demonstrate improvement

Tips for receiving feedback

  • Self-assess first
  • Remember it is not a negative conversation, we all can benefit from constructive feedback
  • Take initiative, seek out feedback
  • Be ready to receive feedback at any time
  • Ask for suggestions on ways to improve
  • Set a time for review and follow up

1 Lefroy J. et al. Guidelines: the do’s, the don’ts and don’t knows of feedback for clinical education. 2015. Perspect Med Educ. 4:284-299.

2 Sargeant, J. & Mann, K.  (2010).  Feedback in Medical Education:  Skills for Improving Learner Performance, in P. Cantillon & D. Woods (Eds.), ABC of Learning & Teaching in Medicine (pp. 29-32). 

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