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Teaching Tips

Setting Expectations with Learners

By Janet Corral, PhD​

​​Le​arners come to each clinical rotation with ideas and expectations for how the rotation will flow. Faculty also have preconceived standards for learners. The question becomes: How do we align the interests of both parties and set learners up for success? The 5-minute expectation meeting is a quick and effective method.

The first morning of your rotation with the learner, set aside five minutes to:

1) Ask the learner(s) about expectations and learning goals for this rotation. You may need to prompt the learner regarding what specific areas of the patient encounter they want to work on.

2) Clarify your expectations of the learner. This is your opportunity to share what role(s) you expect the learner to take on during clinical encounters. An example of potential roles for preclinical or early clinical students might be: 

  • Fountain of Information: Be the “knowledge at our fingertips” for the team by using med apps; online searches
  • The Educator: Meet with patients to provide further education, chronic disease education, complete the AVS, discuss how to take meds, etc.
  • The Data Gatherer: Reconcile meds, chart review, prior workups, etc.
  • The Family Connection: Educate the family, hold family discussions, clarify values and plans
  • The “Gopher:” Actively pursue educational or clinical care information for patients or team members to supplement the current patient care encounter 

3) Close by asking the learners if they have any additional expectations or questions. Also ask what they have heard you communicate about what is expected of them on this rotation. This gives the learner the opportunity to feel heard, add any additional points or ask questions that have arisen now that your expectations are known. This also helps you to ensure the learner has understood what you have shared.

​​​Having the five-minute “setting expectations” talk is a constructive way to welcome learners into your clinical space, and set you both up for success.

If you have any questions about setting expectations, reach out to the clerkship or residency rotation director. He or she is available to help you – and your learners! – be successful.​​​​