Feedback helps keep learners and trainers on target to achieve educational goals (Tuma 2021). Data show that learners appreciate feedback early and often (Cantillon 2008). Providing this information can increase a learner’s rate of improvement, and inspire higher levels of performance. There are many techniques to give and receive feedback.

  • Provide feedback in private.
  • Invite a trainee to provide a self-evaluation. Ask, “How do you think that went?” or “What else might you try in this situation?”
  • Give better feedback using a simple five step model captured in the acronym SMART: giving feedback that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based.
  • Offer feedback that reinforces good clinical skills before constructive criticism, to soften the delivery and avoid discouragement.
  • Take a moment to consider each trainee’s background and perspectives in terms of how these might affect their response or communication. Also consider how your own identity, background, and biases may shape your assessment of each learner.
  • Focus feedback on observed behavior and clinical skills.
  • Share observations about non-verbal communication, wording, and tone, while being aware of implicit biases that may interplay with these observations.
  • Create an action plan for what to try next.
  • Remember that even experienced providers benefit from constructive feedback.

Consider varying the types of feedback you provide to trainees. For example:

  • Share your observation: “You used a number of open-ended questions with that client.” “Your pelvic assessment was accurate, as we see from the angle the dilator entered.”
  • React at a personal level: “I liked your reassuring tone; it really seemed to calm her down.” “I appreciate how you asked for help with cannula placement.”
  • Predict the outcome of a situation. “One risk of continuing to push against resistance is creating a false tract or perforation. You avoided that by stopping to confirm the patient’s uterine position.”

Also make sure to ask your trainee for feedback on how you are doing as a teacher: “What can I do to better meet your needs for training?”  And make sure trainees have safe space as well as anonymous ways of providing feedback.


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