How to Ask for Constructive Feedback

As you progress through various rotations, ask for constructive feedback. It will make you a better medical student and better physician.

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Who to ask?

Ask anyone on the team that you had meaningful and consistent interactions with to provide you with constructive feedback. This list may include the attending, residents, interns, and older medical students on the service.

When to ask?

It can be hard to know the right time to ask for constructive feedback. Oftentimes attendings are only present for rounds then disappear for the remainder of the day. A good time to catch an attending is right after the conclusion of rounds once patient care has concluded. If it is a bad time for the individual that will be giving you feedback, make yourself available at their schedule. Plan a meeting time for later.

In terms of the timing within the rotation, it makes sense to ask for feedback at two points. Mid-way through the service and at the end. Half-way through a rotation it is helpful to get input on how you are doing, particularly if you are being evaluated with a grade. If you just wait to get feedback at the end of the rotation, you don’t have time to incorporate the suggestions and pointers you receive into your clinical performance. You want to wait and ask for feedback when the individual has had at least a week of interacting with you and observing you.

At the end of a rotation, it is helpful to hear about any improvements you have been able to make since your mid-rotation feedback. It is also good opportunity to take the advice you have received and integrate those changes (see below).

“Ask for constructive feedback. It will make you a better medical student and better physician.”

Dr. Carter J. Boyd, Founder, Med Student Edge

What to say?

It can be uncomfortable asking someone for feedback. You can use a pretty general line when asking for constructive feedback. Tell the individual: “I have enjoyed working with you and caring for patients on this rotation. So that I can continually improve to be a better medical student and future physician, would you be able to provide me with feedback about how you think I am performing and where I could improve?” Short, sweet, and to the point.

Incorporate the Feedback

Asking for feedback demonstrates that you are a mature medical student interested in continual self improvement. You should do more than just ask for feedback. After receiving constructive feedback, be sure to incorporate the suggestions you receive. While some points may be minor and just apply to that attending, service, or rotation, the majority of tips you receive will be broadly applicable to you and all clerkships. Do this throughout all of your clinical rotations, and you will be well ahead of the curve for starting intern year.

Do you find asking for constructive feedback helpful? Why or why not? Comment below.

Back to more resources for clerkship rotations.

Carter J. Boyd, MD, MBA
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