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Your Final Grade (The Last Installment of The Feedback Series)

October 16, 2022
by Mark David Siegel

Hi everyone,

We’re in New York this weekend for Heide’s birthday. It’s a big one, but I won’t say which. If I did, I’d soon meet summary judgment.

But speaking of summary judgment, we’ve reached the last installment of The Feedback Series, and it’s time to discuss final grades. The purpose of summative feedback is to evaluate and judge your work- pass or fail, thumbs up or down. How did you score on the In-Training Exam?* Are you ready to be a PGY2? To graduate? Pass the Boards?

Like all feedback, “evaluative” or “summative” feedback is crucial. Patients deserve to be treated by doctors deemed qualified, and we prize the diplomas that prove those qualifications.

But let’s take a breath, and please don’t fret over evaluations. You’re all on track to get promoted, graduate, and pass the Boards. You’ll have to work and study hard, but your success is virtually guaranteed.

But what about deeper, more meaningful kinds of success? What matters most to you specifically? Over your career, you may win grants and teaching awards. You may secure prestigious faculty positions. You may write seminal papers. You may preside over a professional society. These are big accomplishments, but they’re not everything.

How do you want to be remembered when your career is done? Do you want to do research? Teach? Heal? All three?

You’ll have choices. Do you want to be famous or a prized colleague? Do you want to be a hero or a teammate? Do you want to be a good speaker or a good listener? Do you want to work in an unjust system or work to change it? Do you want to pursue glory or promote your trainees? What kind of summative feedback will you seek?

Over the past several weeks, I’ve tried to unpack the different types of feedback—appreciation, coaching, and evaluation—and to show why each is important. I hope each of you will embrace feedback, share it generously, and receive it gracefully. Tell me what you think.

Enjoy your Sunday, everyone. We’re headed out for brunch and a visit to The Tenement Museum, followed by dinner at a Thai restaurant.


*The results are coming soon.

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Submitted by Mark David Siegel on October 16, 2022