McCreadie Group Innovative Solutions for Pharmacy

Have you ever wondered how to give the most effective feedback to learners?

Scott McCreadie – Pharm.D., MBA

President and CEO

We know that you, as educators, realize the importance of feedback for learners and are always looking for the best ways to provide it. PharmAcademic has the capability to improve this essential educational process.

As a former residency program director and experienced preceptor, I know at its simplest form, feedback is information to a learner about their progress to reach a goal.  We designed the “Formative Feedback Function” in PharmAcademic to simplify the imperative task of communicating feedback from educator to learner. PharmAcademic allows instructors, preceptors, and advisors to share written and verbal feedback, providing the learner with the necessary tools to improve and meet their goals.

The concepts below are not new to the pharmacy education industry, but I want to highlight how PharmAcademic allows you to systematize these common feedback methods. Over my years in the industry, I have identified some insights which I have found helpful.

1.) Say it now. Timeliness is critical.

Timeliness is the most important component in effective feedback.  In contrast to summative evaluation or grades, feedback is designed to be used throughout the rotation or learning experience, not just at the end.  If feedback is not provided until the end, the learner doesn’t have the opportunity to correct their behavior or reflect on a constructive comment.

2.) Center feedback on the goals of the learner.

Focused feedback is critical for success. For example, when pertaining to a lab in pharmaceutics, the feedback needs to be on the subject of the science topic being covered.  If it’s experiential at the student or residency level, the feedback should focus on clinical skills, the knowledge the learner is to be gaining, or the interaction with the healthcare team or patient.

3.) Be direct. Be genuine. And, do it one-on-one.

While it can be challenging to provide feedback that identifies areas of improvement, it’s critical that the feedback isn’t hidden using indirect language or hinting around the issue(s).  Learners expect good behavior to be reinforced and bad behavior to be corrected. Not being direct can lead to continued behaviors that are not desired. While honesty is key, the instructor should always deliver feedback in a constructive and private way to never embarrass the learner. A one-on-one meeting is an effective means of providing feedback to students and residents.

4.) Make it actionable. Be clear.

Precise feedback is the most actionable. If the learner isn’t prepared for rounds, it’s not effective to say that they need to be more prepared for rounds.  The instructor needs to ensure that the learner knows what it means to be prepared and should provide specific examples of the steps or actions to accomplish the goal. The learner should know: What exactly should I do next time?

5.) Do it regularly. Do it perpetually.

Follow up to initial feedback is crucial. If feedback was provided and the learner indeed improves, reinforcing feedback should be provided to promote that behavior.  Likewise, if the learner doesn’t respond to initial feedback, additional feedback should be provided. Ongoing feedback emphasizes to the student or resident that learning is a process and adjustments are expected in order to achieve their goals.

To learn more about how PharmAcademic can support the feedback process, please visit the PharmAcademic Help page. 

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