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Feedback Aspirations

January 07, 2017

Faculty are like trainees when they read evaluations, seeking praise but dreading criticism. I’ve gotten many positive reviews over the years, but some have deflated me. I've been called merciless for grilling interns in front of families, teaching without respect for time, and setting unreasonable expectations. Paradoxically, the same approaches—Socratic probing, devotion to education, and setting high standards—have won me teaching awards. It can be painful and bewildering to discover you’ve upset trainees and failed to meet their needs.

I recently reset my MedHub "alerts" to learn instantly when trainees post concerns about peers and faculty. Few teachers get uniformly positive feedback and, as I’ve learned personally, the same traits that win acclaim can also invite criticism. For example, a resident may get praised for helping with tasks, and then get criticized for being overbearing. Some residents get praised for setting high expectations, but later get told they’re unreasonable. Sadly, residents and faculty seldom learn about trainees’ concerns in real time.

Most negative reviews arise from correctable misunderstandings, which creates opportunities to improve. Criticism is most common in the following domains, so as you enter each rotation, consider how you can:

  1. "Demonstrate respect for colleagues"
  2. "Create a pleasant work atmosphere"
  3. "Assist colleagues when work load imbalances occur"
  4. "Provide quality teaching experiences"
  5. "Demonstrate patience with new learners"
  6. "Maintain appropriate balance between supervision and autonomy"
  7. "Show concern for [your learner's] well-being"
  8. "Set clear expectations"
  9. "Lead by positive example"

Each content area merits reflection. What does it mean to demonstrate respect? What constitutes a pleasant work atmosphere, and how can you create one? How will you know when work load imbalances occur, and how should you respond? If you're a learner, tell your teachers how they can help you meet your educational goals. If you’re a team leader, ask yourself how you can flourish in each domain, and make it easy for learners to give feedback by asking for it. Go beyond asking if you can improve; ask how you can do so. Set goals and expectations early, and revisit them throughout your rotations.

Finally, let's help each other out. I would be thrilled if each of you would send me an example you’ve witnessed of aspirational teaching and leadership. I’ll share your examples in a future communication.

Go beyond asking if you can improve; ask how you can do so.

Enjoy your Sunday everyone, and stay warm! I’m going to try climbing East Rock.


PS I’ve attached the full MedHub peer review template so you can contemplate ways to enhance your performance.


Submitted by Mark David Siegel on January 08, 2017