Surgery Resident Perceptions of the Clicker Evaluation System: A Novel Approach to Collecting and Utilizing Clinical Faculty Performance Data

J Surg Educ. 2021 Jan-Feb;78(1):113-118. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2020.06.021. Epub 2020 Jul 9.


Objective: Medical trainees often have a process in place to receive feedback from clinical faculty regarding overall performance. While there is guidance on effective methodologies for faculty to provide feedback for learners, there is a dearth of literature analyzing trainees' evaluation of faculty performance. We sought to identify an effective and anonymous method for surgery residents to evaluate clinical faculty.

Design: The Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health implemented a novel process to gather annual clinical faculty performance data from residents for the purpose of program improvement starting in 2012. Specifically, residents used a web-based audience response system, also known as a "clicker" system, to evaluate faculty performance over the academic year. During the June 2018 evaluation session, residents also completed an anonymous, 9 question survey to assess the residents' perceptions regarding this clicker evaluation process.

Setting: VCU Health System, a tertiary care hospital in Richmond, Virginia.

Participants: All 24 orthopaedic surgery residents at VCU Health participated in the evaluation process and completed the perception survey in 2018.

Results: Ninety-six percent (n = 23) of the residents agreed that they are able to accurately rate their attendings' performance, felt confident that their responses remained anonymous, and that their departmental chair values their opinion when evaluating their attendings' performance through the clicker process. Qualitative responses identified anonymity as a strength of the clicker process, while opportunities for improvement included refinement of questions.

Conclusions: The clicker evaluation system is an effective and anonymous method for resident evaluation of clinical faculty performance in academic settings. Future steps include refinement of questions based on departmental goals for education, adoption of the clicker evaluation system by other specialties, as well as research into ways to optimize the clicker evaluation process. Additional research should be done to see if and how the clicker evaluation feedback translates into change in clinical faculty behavior.

Keywords: Interpersonal and Communication Skills; Practice-Based Learning and Improvement; Professionalism; competencies practice based learning and improvement; evaluation; faculty performance; systems-based practice; trainee feedback.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Education, Medical, Graduate
  • Faculty, Medical
  • General Surgery* / education
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Perception
  • Virginia