Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Med Student peer review

As part of a new phalanx of insight-laden medical students, full of reflective goodness, we receive a lot of feedback from our betters / tutors / call them what you will on a broad range of elements of performance.

Further, given all the reflective bits and bobs, we are at the pointy end of plenty of feedback from ourselves too.

All of this is assessed, and, presumably, if it looks like we're lacking in insight or something, steps will be taken remedy matters before graduation.

On top of this, joy of joys, we are subject to feedback from our peers. We are monitored to make sure that we're not too soft on one another, presumably to avoid an eBay-feedbackesque situation where everyone is nice to avoid tit-for-tat retributions and so to ensure that the feedback is honest and, therefore, valuable.

This all sounds fair enough: most jobs in the real world require an annual or semi-annual appraisal which may or may not be 360 degrees in nature. However, normally the blow of receiving this feedback is softened by (i) the medium of delivery and (ii) who is providing the feedback. And perhaps you'll get a pay rise or a promo if the review goes well.

To address the second issue first, it's going to be interesting to see how the feedback from fellow students evolves over the rest of the course given that to date for most people I've spoken to it's been somewhat lacking in positive, actionable steps.

This isn't a huge surprise given that my peers don't have a lot of experience here and have only been taught the largely discredited "crap sandwich" approach to feedback (start with something good about you, then get the meat of the feedback with something crap about you, then finish off with what to do to improve). Still, some of the stuff is useful so I suck it in and take what I can from what I'm given.

The main issue is the first: the medium of delivery. In my colourful pre-med career I received diverse feedback from diverse people in diverse situations. I've had good reviews from balls-out US investment bankers in the backs of a taxis (mental image unintended), terrible pay news from nervous European bankers over telephone lines and woolly, "what was that conversation all about" feedback from fuddled academics in labs who weren't at all keen on this type of thing. I've also had to use a number of electronic systems having nominated a number of colleagues all of whom, and this is important, have been trained in using these systems the output of which is numerical.

However, what I haven't had is an online posting system where you log in and read feedback. I'm not sure about this route to provide feedback to happy recipients: there's not a lot of room for discussion / clarification with the feedbacker, there isn't space for emotional or intonational nuances to be provided: it's rather like getting a very personal SMS from someone you barely know.

Let's see how things progress.

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