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Neher: Correct Mistakes

When the learner has demonstrated mistakes, such as omissions, distortions, or misunderstandings, it is important to provide timely feedback in a comfortable environment and way.

  • As soon as possible after a mistake, find an appropriate time and place to discuss what went wrong.
  • Allow the learner the first opportunity to critique; this will often save you the necessity of having to do so.
  • Give "smart" feedback: make it specific, measurableachievable, relevant, and timely - also consider that you are in an appropriate location! 

Sample Feedback

  • Once the student self-assesses, you might say, " similar cases, I have been successful saying X."
  • The items on your differential are excellent. Is there a reason you did not include any infectious causes? One way to avoid prematurely closing your differential is to..."

Example Questions

  • How do you think that went?
  • How did you feel about that process?


  • Mistakes left unattended have a high probability of being repeated.
  • Negative feedback is a misnomer. All feedback is constructive…you are correcting misconceptions or behavior, not the individual.
  • Not correcting mistakes suggests they were accurate while reinforcing misunderstandings.

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The Five-Step Microskills of Clinical Teaching

Neher J, Stevens, N G (2003). The one-minute preceptor: Shaping the teaching conversation. Family Medicine, 36 (6); 391-393.