Doctors want to be Strengthened not Undermined

 We all need lots of positive ‘strokes.’shutterstock_36977740

We  thrive on positive feedback. When someone says, as in ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ when Alice was asked to recite ‘You are old, Father William.’ she duly does so, and is then told by the caterpillar: ‘That was wrong from beginning to end…..’

How awful to be  undermined  in that way!

It’s a  common experience amongst doctors to be ‘put down’ by their superiors, for example: how badly they have carried out a procedure or how wrong is their suggested diagnosis.

Have you ever experienced being humiliated in that way? Or have you done that to your juniors?

Even if it’s true that there are ways to improve your practice,   it is so much better to praise whatever what is correct  before suggesting ways to do better next time.

I remember as a medical student being the only female student around the bed of a patient (when I was studying medicine there was a strict quota of female medical students) I was picked on to present the patient’s history and examination and remember wanting to disappear into a hole in the floor that wouldn’t open up for me. The Prof. of Medicine looked over his spectacles and tut-tut as I didn’t say what was expected. ‘Come , come’, he said disapprovingly, ‘surely you know what this might be due to?’

I heard no word of praise for what I had answered correctly only putting me down for what I had  not known. No offer of kind explanation for what I hadn’t  understood. On reflection many of those medical student ward round memories were about being able to regurgitate facts and figures rather than demonstrating any ability to demonstrate  understanding of the situation.

So, when you reflect on your experience of feedback from superiors and/or feedback you give to those you are teaching,  aim to give more positive strokes and less undermining.  

Please share your experience of this in the ‘Please leave a reply’ box at the very bottom of this page. Thank you.

 

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