Feedback is important for medical students’ development. Recent conceptualizations of feedback as a dialogue between feedback provider and recipient point to longitudinal relationships as a facilitator of effective feedback discussions. This study illuminates how medical students experience feedback within a longitudinal relationship with a physician coach.
In this qualitative study, second-year medical students from the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine participated in semistructured interviews that explored their experiences discussing feedback within longitudinal, nonevaluative coaching relationships. Interviews occurred between May and October 2018. Interview questions addressed students’ experiences receiving feedback from their coach, how and when they used this feedback, and how their relationship with their coach influenced engagement in feedback discussions. Interviews were analyzed using constructivist grounded theory.
Seventeen students participated. The authors identified 3 major themes. First, students’ development of a feedback mindset: Over time, students came to view feedback as an invaluable component of their training. Second, setting the stage for feedback: Establishing feedback routines and a low-stakes environment for developing clinical skills were important facilitators of effective feedback discussions. Third, interpreting and acting upon feedback: Students described identifying, receiving, and implementing tailored and individualized feedback in an iterative fashion. As students gained comfort and trust in their coaches’ feedback, they reported increasingly engaging in feedback conversations for learning.
Through recurring feedback opportunities and iterative feedback discussions with coaches, students came to view feedback as essential for growth and learning. Longitudinal coaching relationships can positively influence how students conceptualize and engage in feedback discussions.