Background: Many general practitioners accept vocational registrars and medical students into their practice. Giving feedback to students on their work performance is an essential component of teaching in general
Objective: This article examines the central role of feedback in the teaching of medical students and registrars and provides practical guidelines on how to provide feedback in the setting of a busy general practice, describes some barriers and pitfalls, and provides a registrar's perspective on what learners see as important.
Discussion: For feedback to be effective, it must be given in a supportive environment. Feedback that is specific to the learner performance is highly valued by learners, whereas nonspecific evaluative feedback is less valued. The mentoring relationship between teacher and learner is crucial to giving effective feedback. Learners appreciate a teacher's help identifying any area for improvement, then being given the chance to work out the answers for themselves instead of being told exactly what to do by the more experienced teacher.