Tips for giving feedback more effectively

  • Acknowledge the doctor-in-training’s effort and be supportive.
    This way a safe atmosphere is created for effective learning.
  • Always leave the doctor-in-training with choices.
    It is important the doctor-in-training makes their own choices and decisions, based on the feedback you give and the awareness you help them develop.
  • Ask for feedback on how useful the discussion was.
    Remember that this is a two-way process and you need to know how helpful your support is.
  • Encourage self-evaluation.
    First ask them what they thought of the ward round/their work so far etc.
  • Finish the feedback session with a summary.
    This will review the main points and a question like ‘So, what have we discussed?’
  • Focus on specific behaviour, which can be changed.
    It might be an aspect of her/his communication skills with nurses or a specific surgical procedure. Do not use vague generalisations or focus on personality traits.
  • Focus on the positive and the effects of what is going well.
    Explain what you think is going well and what results you have seen, as well as areas for improvement.
  • Give feedback regularly.
    Remember that your role is not effectively carried out without regular, detailed, constructive feedback.
  • Give the trainee thinking time.
    If the doctor-in-training does not acknowledge that there is an issue to be worked on, invite her/him to go and think about it in preparation for another chat with you.
  • Make sure you fulfil both of the roles below:
    • Supervisory– making sure that agreed standards are met/maintained.
    • Developmental – helping the doctor-in-training learn and progress.
  • Negotiate an action plan.
    Work with the doctor-in-training on specific ways to deal with any issues that have arisen and monitor how effectively this action plan is used.
  • Offer alternatives.
    If you offer negative comments, make sure you suggest what the person can do differently in the future.
  • Own your comments. Do not begin with ‘You are …’. Use phrases like ‘I think that …”My opinion is that …’
  • Plan what you want to include in your feedback.
    This is especially important if you only have two minutes between patients. It also helps the flow of the feedback.
  • Take the ‘collaborative’ approach.
    You are both working together to make her/him a better doctor – this often makes it easier to deal with the more ‘difficult issues’. Remind yourself that you’re giving feedback to help their learning.
  • Use descriptive language and open up discussion.
    For example: Your patient looked confused as you talked to her: Did you notice that? is more helpful than You didn’t do that well
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