How Residents Can Provide Effective Feedback to New Students

How Residents Can Provide Effective Feedback to New Students

Oct 14, 2020 Published by Kathrin O'Neill

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At the start of the academic year, new interns are entering in this exciting phase of their journey. And feeling overwhelmed with this new role they’re taking. But for you, a seasoned resident doctor, this is a good opportunity to switch roles and become the instructor to guide them.

As a resident doctor, teaching is another role you partake during your training. Effective teaching requires practice and with new interns coming in, you can expect some shift in roles from being a learner to a trainer using feedback.

Talk about their concerns

COVID-19 has been a major discussion for months now. For new interns, this pandemic has kept them from clinical practice most of the time. Some hospitals have already lowered the cases to manageable count, so medical students were able to come back to practice. However, the gravity of this pandemic still weighs on them.

For seasoned residents, your role is to welcome them and talk to them about the situation. Consider the cognitive load when you’re doing this. Our brain can only take a portion of the information given, so only give them feedback on this context when asking about their lives and concerns. As mentors-in-the-making, let them feel safe and guide them on how to go about in effectively doing their tasks.

Track their performance

There are simple questions you can ask new interns to track their progress. How did they come up with a decision with their diagnosis and treatment? What is the result of that decision? These two questions will help them evaluate their choices.

Feedback doesn’t only happen when they missed something. You need to guide them in finding their ‘batting average’ and figure out where they could adjust. This is a proactive approach to help them with their mistakes and how they can best move forward with these newfound solutions in the future.

Help them with their goals

New interns usually feel overwhelmed with the demands or confused as to the kind of specialty they may want. You can help them by getting the most of their rotation as they seek to better their career path.

Your most effective feedback happens when it’s in line with the learner’s goals. If a new intern comes to your team, take some time to ask questions about their goals and learn what they need to achieve it.

Take out golden nuggets from your experience

You’ve been in their shoes before. And as a seasoned resident, you’re uniquely qualified to give feedback to guide them in avoiding the same mistakes you did.

Residents are often the best source for new interns to help them carve their career paths in the most efficient manner possible during their first few experiences. As most of the concepts are learned along the way, your experience may serve as a ‘benchmark’ for them.

Hone your teaching skills

If you desire to become a supervisor someday, you can start honing your skills when this opportunity arises. The one-minute preceptor helps you develop your teaching abilities while allowing the learner to maximize these periods in understanding clinical concepts as they catch up with residency tasks. Any resident who is willing to take up this task may find themselves landing a good position to supervise fellow doctors in the future.

Don’t give generalized feedback

There’s often a tendency for resident doctors to offer general feedback to interns because of the pending workload. Offering this type of feedback is not helpful and can oftentimes be confusing to the learner. It leaves the new intern suspicious of your agenda, leaving a gap in establishing a trusting and professional relationship.

Base feedback on mutual respect

Some of the new interns you’re giving feedback to come from different ages, cultures, sex, and educational backgrounds. Your feedback may be taken out of context and could result in a de-motivating feedback session.

You can counter this by offering feedback in a relaxed and empathic manner, allowing them to learn and continue to improve their performance without losing the mutual respect.

Don’t give feedback where physical barriers are present

Giving your feedback in a noisy corridor or in the presence of his or her fellow interns would look inappropriate. Given this situation, the feedback would lose its objectivity and be taken as an insult instead.

It’s best to speak to them privately when you give them the feedback. Always place it in a context that’s professional and unbiased so they won’t feel it’s a personal attack and take it constructively.