Constructive Feedback

My preceptor from my OBGYN rotation (just realized how weird it would’ve been to start with “My OBGYN,” haha!) gave me a great evaluation- but there’s a comment section at the bottom where our preceptors are encouraged to say more than what is on the form. She wrote “There were times when Student Doctor Christine gave the impression of being bored or impatient, but that decreased as the rotation went on. Overall, it was pleasant to have Christine on service.”

So, really, she enjoyed having me. But it left me thinking. If anything I was more excited at the START of the rotation, and was anything but bored when I saw my first birth (see previous post: Tiny Miracles)! I was really confused and frankly upset to see her write that about me, especially since next to Pediatrics, OBGYN was the one rotation I was super excited to start. My confusion was made worse by the fact that she never said this to my face, but left it in writing in an evaluation she faxed to the school, only to be later found and read by me.

I take criticism and praise very personally. I’m really sensitive to what people have to say about me, and I try my damnedest to use every bit of feedback as an opportunity to better myself. But this feedback was different- I didn’t know how I could grow from it, because I didn’t realize I was doing it. And my doctor passed up the chance to point out exactly what I was doing that offended her.

I started my family medicine rotation at the beginning of March determined to look excited and super patient- the very things my last preceptor told me I wasn’t. And I quickly learned (yet again) that every doctor is different and has different preferences. He told me I was too shy and needed to open up… so I did slowly and we eventually started making smarts remarks back and forth. It was great and made the whole rotation very enjoyable, even though I don’t particularly love family medicine. I was able to be myself, which made all the difference, and I truthfully never had the chance to do during my last rotation.

So the time came for my family med preceptor to write his evaluation of me. It was actually really awkward, because he made me sit in his office, across the desk from him, while he filled out the whole form- from my clinical knowledge, to my ability to take patient histories, to my physical exam and diagnostic skills. It was nerve-wracking, to say the least! It ended up being worth it, because he went over the whole evaluation with me and gave me feedback- what I wish every preceptor up until this point had done! He explained what he wrote and the areas he thought I could improve. He had similar feedback to my last doctor, but he elaborated more. He told me I am too quiet initially and instead of coming off as shy, it can sometimes come off as arrogant or uninterested. He said since he had gotten to know me, he knows I am neither of those things, but he warned me against being too quiet and encouraged me to be more open when I meet people for the first time.

It was such a relief to have a doctor sit and talk with me about things I could improve! Especially things about myself I didn’t realize. I know I’m quiet at first. But people who know me know that I’m totally different when I open up- and I need to challenge myself to do that more readily.

To be honest, that’s the first honest constructive criticism I’ve gotten all year, so it was refreshing to actually have something to work on. I’m definitely not perfect, but a lot of physicians fill our evaluations out really quickly and give us perfect marks because it’s easier than sitting down and telling someone what they can improve. I never thought I would be excited about an evaluation from a doctor, but this one definitely made my whole month!

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