February 3, 2023

Feedback – February 2023

One of the hardest duties of a clinician educator is to provide feedback to a learner especially when he/she might have some behaviors that need to change. Of course, providing a positive assessment is fairly easy if the student has done a good job if your schedule is not too frenetic and if you have had time and opportunity to observe first-hand how the learner interacts with patients. But even with my many years of experience, I still find it challenging to provide corrective feedback which might be perceived in a negative way.


Quite recently, the producers of the podcast Curbsiders have created a new podcast for educators entitled Curbsiders Teach.  Here is a link to the website.  https://thecurbsiders.com/teach

If you have any interactions with learners in your clinical setting, I strongly urge you to check out this podcast, and would especially focus your time and attention listening to the very first episode which is entitled “Optimize your Feedback Conversations”.


The guest discussant is Dr. Calvin Chou, who is an accomplished professor and clinician educator from UCSF.  In addition to receiving a number of teaching awards, he is a faculty member of the Academy on Communication in Healthcare.


Here are several of the items I learned from listening to the podcast:


  • Aim to reduce bias in feedback by approaching learners with curiosity and an authentic desire to help them do their best.
  • Be open to feedback ourselves.
  • Focus on providing small chunks of feedback, making it short and succinct. If possible provide it after viewing a particular action or behavior.
  • When starting with a new learner, get to know them personally. Then ask them about what is important to their learning and what are their goals.
  • If a learner has multiple issues that need addressing, choose the 1-2 items that are most important and focus on those. Don’t overwhelm the learner.
  • Think of feedback as a conversation, rather than a download.



This first podcast is long, I think almost 90 minutes, and I recommend listening to this in several sittings, rather than all at once.  I hope you will find it valuable.