Background: Feedback is an essential tool in medical education, and the process is often difficult for both faculty and learner. There are strong analogies between the provision of educational feedback and doctor-patient communication during the clinical encounter.
Description: Relationship-building skills used in the clinical setting-Partnership, Empathy, Apology, Respect, Legitimation, Support (PEARLS)-can establish trust with the learner to better manage difficult feedback situations involving personal issues, unprofessional behavior, or a defensive learner. Using the stage of readiness to change (transtheoretical) model, the educator can "diagnose" the learner's stage of readiness and employ focused interventions to encourage desired changes.
Evaluation: This approach has been positively received by medical educators in faculty development workshops.
Conclusions: A model for provision of educational feedback based on communication skills used in the clinical encounter can be useful in the medical education setting. More robust evaluation of the construct validity is required in actual training program situations.