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Erin Raci Wetherbee

Blogger: Erin Raci Wetherbee

About the blogger: Erin Raci Wetherbee, MD is a staff pulmonologist at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota. Her primary interest is in medical education, with a focus on interprofessional education. Dr. Wetherbee serves as core faculty and coach for the University of Minnesota internal medicine residency program. 


Link:  https://bmcmededuc.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12909-016-0613-5

Citation: Johnson CE, Keating JL, Boud DJ, Dalton M, Kiegaldie D, Hay M, McGrath B, McKenzie WA, Nair KB, Nestel D, Palmero C, Molloy EK.   Identifying educator behaviors for high quality verbal feedback in health professions education: literature review and expert refinement.  BMC Medical Education 2016;16:96

Why this paper:  The feedback we give our learners is their mirror in the dance studio. It’s the way they can compare their performance to the ideal and recognize what needs change.   Most of us would agree that it’s essential for improvement.  So why is giving and getting feedback in clinical practice so difficult for so many of us? I, like these authors, think it’s at least in part because we don’t entirely understand what good feedback looks like.

The authors of this recent publication attempt to address a gap in our understanding of high quality feedback in health professionals’ education. Through extensive literature review, the authors identified 25 distinct elements of the educator’s role in feedback that was linked to performance improvement. Next, using the same iterative process of thematic analysis and a Delphi technique to develop expert consensus, the authors established a list of observable educator behaviors that exemplify high quality feedback in clinical practice.   The final list of 18 behaviors (see Fig 3) is organized into those that address the “set up” for feedback, the “assessment”, and developing a learner’s “action plan.” 

What I found valuable about this study is the rigorous review of the established literature and the focus on actual observable educator behaviors rather than abstract qualities. It gave me food for thought on how I approach feedback with learners and ideas for improving the quality of feedback they are receiving throughout their training.