Step 3 of being super preceptor is to maintain a GPS system of tracking and feedback. By GPS, I don’t mean the typical GPS that we use when were driving somewhere in the car. I mean guidance from preceptor to students. Start thinking about what the GPS system does, when you think about the use of a GPS system when you’re driving a car. Very first thing the GPS system provides in terms of information is where you are at that point of time. It tells you when a dot on the screen or an arrow on the screen your exact location.
Also, and even greater advantage of the GPS system is that it tells you how to achieve a destination if you program in the destination. So, how does the GPS system relate to training a pharmacy student during rotation? Well, first of all, we need to be able to provide feedback to the pharmacy students. As to where he or she is in relation to the outcomes that we want that students to achieve. We have to let them know how well they’re doing any point of time, the relation of their learning outcomes. With the learning outcomes in mind, if that’s the destination then whenever the student deviate a path that would lead them to that destination.
Just like a GPS system tells you if you make a wrong turn. We should be informing the student what they’re doing is not on the direct path to the destination that we want them to achieve toward the learning outcomes. The idea here is that when we make a wrong turn, the GPS system corrects us, so we can get back on track. When a student gets off track from the outcomes that we want them to achieve, a preceptor needs to be providing information about what they need to do. First of all, to tell them they’re off track. And then to provide information what they need to do to get back on track to achieve the destination.
Stop and think about what a GPS system does when you’re receiving information from it. It’s not going to do you much good. The GPS system only tells you where you are in relation to your destination every half hour or every hour. It works well because it provides you information 24 servant constantly. Where are you in relation to your destination and what kind of turns that you need to make to get back on course. Likewise, the preceptor needs to be providing the students with information constantly about how they’re doing in relation to the destination, so they can make those adjustments right away. Not at some later time when it might be too late.
The GPS feedback is an essential component of learning. Suzanne Ambrose in her book how learning works seven research-based principles for smart teaching, just published back
in 2010, as the following quote: “goal-directed practice coupled with targeted feedback are critical to learning.” This identifies the importance of providing constant feedback to our students. We want them to achieve the learning outcomes that we’ve identified. So the GPS model is really significant. Doug Lemov wrote the book “Practice Perfect,” states practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes permanent. The idea here is that what students do regularly will eventually become permanent. So, if they’re doing things wrong, they’re engaging in practices that are not optimal. If the preceptor doesn’t correct those behaviors, they will eventually become permanent. So, we don’t want the students to develop bad habits. And if we allow them to continue doing things the wrong way, that’s going to happen.
So it’s up to the preceptor to provide that GPS type of feedback. To let the students know what they’re doing is not optimal. If we get them on the right track and correct their behaviors, they will eventually develop good habits. Those will be the practices that will become permanent. And that’s what we’re trying to achieve. Consider what it takes to provide optimal feedback? What are the characteristics of good feedback that’s actually stimulate growth and learning? The first one is that feedback needs to be timely, needs to be provided in real-time. You can’t provide feedback to a student a week after the behavior that you’re commenting on. It’s simply too late.
It really needs to be done as soon as possible afterwards. So the preceptor needs to be proactive, communicating with these students. When they do something worth commending, something other than desiring, we need to let them know exactly what it was. And we needed to be expressed in a timely fashion, so they know this is what I did. Likewise, if they’re doing something that we want to correct, the time to provide that feedback is right after they’ve done. Otherwise, there’s too much of a disconnect. The second thing is we need feedback to be specific. It needs to identify exactly what it is that were either confirming or work criticizing that the student has thought.
If we’re not specific, it doesn’t really shape their future behavior. For example, if we
simply say to a student: “you did a nice job today.” That might make them feel good, but it doesn’t communicate to them what it was that we’re appreciating.
If we say: The way you interviewed that patient or the way you counsel that patient you are so compassionate. You’ve done such a great job of communicating information to that patient about the drugs that they’re taking. That’s the kind of specific feedback lets them know the behavior that were referring to. We can also constructed. It should be designed to help them. Even if it’s critical. Even if we’re trying to tell them something that they need to improve. If they understand that the preceptor has their best interest at heart. The preceptor is providing that feedback to help them improve. It will be better received. Feedback also needs to be consistent.
We have to provide it regularly the same way, so that they’re not surprised when we provide feedback to them. It needs to be a natural part of the rotation. The student comes to expect whether it’s constructive criticism, critical criticism that the student needs to know that when they perform things that the preceptor appreciate so the preceptor things need to be improved that the feedback will be provided. And lastly, the feedback should be relevant. Which should relate to the learning outcome to the target that we provided to the students. So, they understand the purpose of providing the feedback in relation to the goals that need to be able to achieve.
To tell the students that their shoes look good might make them feel good, but it doesn’t tell them anything about how to achieve the learning outcomes to their rotation. We need to focus on feedback that relates to the learning outcomes we established. The fourth step in becoming a super preceptor is to uphold a clear set of rules boundaries and expectations. Consider a sport that you’re not very familiar with, perhaps lacrosse or rugby. If you are asked to play that sport without knowing the rules, you would find it extremely difficult. For students starting your rotation, it may be as if you’re asking them to play lacrosse. They don’t understand the rules. They don’t understand the expectations.
So, you have to provide that information to them. You should set high standards that’s perfectly acceptable to expect excellence from your students. So, you set whatever standards you want to set, whatever expectations you will hold the students to. And then, it’s an essential that you communicate those expectations to the students very clearly that should be right off the bat of front at the start of the rotation. Once you communicate those expectations to the students, it’s important to enforce them consistently. So they know what to expect and they take them serious. It’s important also to consider that these are students. They are not professionals. And even though they are professional students, we want to guide them to become professionals.
You shouldn’t hold them to expectations of full professionals, when they’re still in their training. That’s what we call them “students.” If you’re familiar with avocados and the dish that avocados are converted into of guacamole. That’s one of my favorite foods. Guacamole tastes great. It’s a mexican food. When we have a student on rotation, we have to realize we’re trying to develop them into guacamole. But they’re not there yet. They’re still avocados. And what we’re dealing with student avocados, we have to expect that they may not demonstrate the ultimate professional behavior. And when they deviate and when they behave in a less than professional manner.
We should simply deal with it, communicate with them, provide them with the feedback so they can make the correction and become more professional. Remembering that they’re still students. They are learning to become professional. They’re counting on the preceptor to provide that guidance.