Study Highlights the Importance of Feedback in the Development of Clinical Skills
Dr Reina Mary Abraham’s PhD study investigated the use of feedback and feed-forward action plans in the development of clinical skills among undergraduate Medical students.
Using a theoretical framework based on deliberate practice and feedback intervention theories, it expands understanding of the factors enhancing feedback’s self/co-regulated learning potential through the development of self, peer and teacher feedback interventions. The study proposes a novel conceptual framework based on psychological processes to understand barriers and facilitators of feedback receptivity. Abraham also developed a feedback-scoring tool to promote effective feedback.
Abraham is a lecturer and the co-ordinator of the clinical skills undergraduate programme in UKZN’s School of Clinical Medicine. She said that she believes that the constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic on medical education can be turned into opportunities. She has been hard at work converting clinical skills teaching to online platforms, transitioning to the blended teaching approach, considering how online skills simulation can be sustained after the pandemic and publishing papers on current and relevant topics.
’It was good to achieve what I planned for the past 10 years well within the time frame I had in mind. This is a platform for me to enhance my academic achievements. There is a lot more to do. During my tenure with the Clinical Skills lab, I became interested in understanding the impact of feedback on learning. The PhD was a great opportunity to unravel this aspect of education. It will also support my future career.’
The few challenges she encountered, including the need to strike a balance between work and research such that her students did not suffer, and redefining the scope of her study, as well as meeting deadlines, were overcome with the support of her colleagues and supervisor, Dr Veena Singaram. A solid work ethic also stood her in good stead.
Abraham described UKZN’s School of Clinical Medicine as one of the best in the world. She noted that the University has expert staff who are passionate about what they do. Academic support through the teaching relief funded by the University Capacity Development Programme made it possible for her to continue with her studies, as well as publish and attend conferences while working fulltime.
She is grateful to her supportive family, and her husband and two daughters, all of whom are working overseas. She enjoys travelling to visit her family, reading medical journals, cooking, and photography during her spare time.
Words: Lihle Sosibo