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Nisha Chadha

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Nisha Chadha, MD (Educators, ’19) is an assistant professor of ophthalmology and medical education and the director of medical student education in ophthalmology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Nisha’s areas of professional interest include incorporating technology into medical education and curriculum development. Nisha can be followed on Twitter or reached via email.

Growth mindset and medical education: What is the connection?

“Stop!” the attending blurts out as the trainee was about to make a miscalculated maneuver with her surgical instrument. The resident’s stomach flips as she realizes her potential error and readjusts. The attending, likewise, breathes a sigh of relief as the surgery is turned back on course.

As medical educators, we have all experienced high stakes moments like this one. But what is the best way to debrief this encounter? And how do we turn the “fight or flight” inducing stomach-churn into an educational opportunity? Sure, we can give feedback, and we should. However, to the learner, this experience may feel like a “mini-fail” and lead to feelings of guilt or shame, and possibly avoidance of similarly challenging scenarios in the future. Can we redirect a trainee’s learning trajectory just as we redirected the surgery? I think we can, with a secret ingredient called “growth mindset.”

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