Evaluation Concepts and Strategies for Preceptors
Evaluation is an integral part of the preceptor role but one that often gets neglected. Preceptors don't want to impact the resident's job negatively, and sometimes providing feedback can initiate conflict so some preceptors might avoid evaluation. However, evaluation and feedback offer the opportunity to support the resident's professional development and improve public health nursing practice in the agency.
In your role as preceptor, you will be asked to provide both formative feedback (ongoing feedback that supports professional growth) and summative feedback (identifying trends in performance and comparing these trends to performance criteria). For each of these evaluation methods, you will use the resident's professional development plan as the basis for your feedback.
Constructive feedback is an important part of the evaluation process. Some suggestions for enhancing feedback include:
- Provide feedback in private if possible, to avoid embarrassing the resident.
- Focus on changeable behavior. Share ideas and explore alternatives to the behavior.
- Describe your observations, not your interpretation of behaviors. Helpful statements include: "I observed you doing…", "How do you think this went?" and "How might you do this differently?"
- Offer specific, positive—as well as corrective—feedback. For example, "I really liked when you did…" or "You have really improved on…"
- Give immediate feedback when possible.
- Use "I" messages. These messages focus on your observation and elicit responses from the resident about what they were thinking or feeling during the event. For example, "When I watch you interact with your patient, I notice that you seem to dominate the conversation and don't spend much time listening." Give the resident an opportunity to respond to your comments, and then reflect back what you heard to assure you understood what they said. Next, you should both agree on specific criteria for improvement.
Adapted from Di Leonardi, B. & Gulanick, M. (2008) Precepting Graduate Students in the Clinical Setting.