The art of giving feedback

Simulated patients can give valuable feedback to students in the debrief.  Ideally, they will give 2 or 3 comments for what went well, and what might be done differently.

  • Simulated Patients are to give specific, detailed examples of what was said or done by the student. For example, rather than saying: ‘You asked a lot of good questions’, it would be better for a Simulated Patient to say: ‘A really good question you asked me was ……..’
  • When giving feedback, SPs should speak directly to the student who carried out the consultation, rather than the educators.
  • Simulated Patients should make the feedback objective. That is, take out any emotional content from their comments. If they were angry or upset in the simulation, they shouldn’t be in the same emotional state when giving feedback.
  • SPs should be aware that students sometimes become emotional when involved in a simulation exercise, and be conscious of the impact that their feedback will have on students.
  • When moving from in role feedback to out of role feedback, it is helpful to physically alter in some way e.g. do not appear depressed anymore. A smile also helps change the mood
  • You should refer to the character in the 3rd person when giving out of role feedback. For example: ‘When you summarised the main points of what you had heard it made the patient I was playing confident you had been listening to him.’

What to give feedback on

  • This will vary from session to session. Please follow the educator's lead, and use the theme of the session, the learning objectives, and your scenario to inform your feedback. For example, if the session is about breaking bad news, you could focus your comments on how this was done.
  • Quite often there are clues or specific guidance within your scenario that will help you to decide what to give feedback on.
  • You could ask the educator in the session if there is anything in particular they would like you to focus on. You could also ask the educator for tips and hints in the brief, or before a session.