Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics


Search This Site

Journal Club

Face to face feedback for faculty

Feedback to Supervisors: Is Anonymity Really So Important? Dudek, N. L., Dojeiji, S., Day, K., Varpio, L. Academic Medicine 2016; 91, 9 p 1305–1312

Reviewed by Olubukola Ojuola

Tags: GME, feedback, qualitative

What was the study question?

Is open feedback from residents to supervising faculty a worthy investment?

How was the study done?

A small physiatry residency program that utilizes an open feedback system interviewed six senior residents and nine graduates of the program about their experience with giving open feedback to their supervising clinical faculty. Interviews were conducted over the phone and in semi-structured small groups.

What were the results?

Overall, the benefits of open feedback outweighed the drawbacks. Specific benefits highlighted included the fact that open feedback is timely and specific, and promotes prompt action that can benefit the resident in real time. In addition, open feedback produces a feeling of accountability in the feedback provider, improved residents’ ability to give and receive feedback, and made faculty more approachable. The disadvantages identified included the fear that open feedback could negatively impact relationships with faculty, possible  inability to overcome discomfort with delivering negative feedback openly, and the tendency to tone down the message when feedback is negative.

What are the implications of these findings?

Most commonly, feedback to supervising faculty is provided using an anonymous system, to obtain unbiased evaluation and minimize the fear of reprisal if the feedback is negative. It will be interesting to see how the relationship dynamics and response to feedback are affected when an open feedback system is utilized in a residency training program. One consideration is a hybrid system that allows residents who have difficulty giving open feedback to provide anonymous feedback . The open feedback system on a small or large scale might be a worthy investment as we strive to improve the quality of clinical supervision provided to residents.

Editors note:  This might be a scary prospect for some—both residents and faculty—but more options for the delivery and reception of feedback could help promote a culture of timely feedback that is often missing in medical education. (RR)

Return to Journal Club