The preceptor’s role is to observe the student in action and provide appropriate feedback. It is important not to judge the student, but rather to provide information with the goal of helping the student improve their performance.

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Feedback is typically less formal and is best when it is done immediately, or as soon as possible, after the task or situation. If this is not possible, set aside 10-15 minutes each day to review cases and go over feedback and teaching points in greater detail. Remember, feedback does not necessarily need to be provided on every client interaction; however, it should be given on a regular basis.

Allow the student to complete their task uninterrupted, if possible. Keep observations short and focused. Observing one part of an assessment rather than the whole thing can be less intimidating. Going over the task prior to the patient interaction can be helpful and assists the student to be more comfortable when they are working with the patient.

Following the interaction, let the student speak first. Reflection and self-assessment are powerful feedback techniques.

Prompt student responses with questions such as:

  • What went well?
  • What would you do differently next time?
  • What did you notice?

It is important to be objective and specific

Focus on what is relevant to the task or situation. Ask the student and yourself questions such as:

  • What was done right?
  • What needs to be improved?
  • What needs to be done or considered next time?

Then, validate observations and identify specific actions that could be improved.

If it is not possible to give immediate feedback, it might be helpful to write down some notes about the topics you want to cover during the feedback time.

Remember that feedback is most effective when presented in the student’s learning style.  If improvement is needed, providing resources and assistance in the learning style that best fits the student generally enhances their ability to learn and comprehend what is necessary to improve their patient care.

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