I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn. –attributed to Albert Einstein
Explore This IssueACEP News: Vol 31 – No 10 – October 2012
For the sake of my students’ future patients, I must teach in the here and now.
“About that central line you put in during the code…”
The moment of truth. The resident looks up from the paperwork. His pupils dilate from the tsunami of adrenaline released in response to my seemingly innocuous comment. Officially, he is getting “constructive feedback”; emotionally, he is suddenly on trial and anxiously awaits a verdict. Guilty or innocent?
Medical educators, scarred by the “feedback hazing” of their own training, often feel being “cruel to be kind” is par for the course when confronting students about errors, limitations, and need for development. Perceiving feedback as painful but necessary, the teachers demand that students “take it in stride.” Most students in turn find the punitive emotional burden of negative feedback deeply distracting from its educational value.
In teaching medicine, coaching has emerged as a method focused on instruction and skill building, in contrast with the judgmental and punitive nature of performance evaluations (JAMA 2011;306:993-4). Coaching incorporates feedback intended to empower and teach rather than criticize and demoralize.
When, like me, you are passionate about your work, your hobbies and time-off interests can be reciprocally informative at the bedside. When not reducing dislocated shoulders or shocking fibrillating hearts, I vicariously report on a sport that captivated me long ago.
As a photographer for the nationally ranked Cornell University wrestling team, I have an opportunity to interact with some of the top athletes and coaches in the country. Their drive, determination, and willingness to sacrifice remind me of my own medical education.
I aimed to become capable of handling any emergency that comes through the door; they strive to prevail over anyone who steps on the mat to earn the national championship. Hence, how they overcome challenges and setbacks is surprisingly relevant to medical education.
I spoke to Damion Hahn, a two-time NCAA champion and a Cornell assistant coach with 6 years of experience educating top wrestling talent to perform against the toughest opponents. If you want to know how to get capable and motivated people to execute complex psychomotor skills in stressful situations, Damion is a great source of practical wisdom.
“What do you tell a wrestler who is having a lot of trouble in the first period so he performs better in the second?” I asked him during this year’s Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association championship that Cornell won for the 6th year in a row.