Acad Med. 2023 Aug 10. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000005433. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE: Learner handover is the sharing of learner-related information between supervisors involved in their education. The practice allows learners to build upon previous assessments and can support the growth-oriented focus of competency-based medical education. However, learner handover also carries the risk of biasing future assessments and breaching learner confidentiality. Little is known about learner handover's educational impact, and what is known is largely informed by faculty and institutional perspectives. The purpose of this study was to explore learner handover from the learner perspective.
METHOD: Constructivist grounded theory was used to explore learners' perspectives and beliefs around learner handover. Twenty-nine semi-structured interviews were completed with medical students and residents from the University of Ottawa and University of California, San Francisco. Interviews took place between April and December 2020. Using the constant comparative approach, themes were identified though an iterative process.
RESULTS: Learners were generally unaware of specific learner handover practices, although most recognized circumstances where both formal and informal handovers may occur. Learners appreciated the potential for learner handover to tailor education, guide entrustment and supervision decisions, and support patient safety, but worried about its potential to bias future assessments and breach confidentiality. Furthermore, learners were concerned that information-sharing may be more akin to gossip rather than focused on their educational needs and feared unfair scrutiny and irreversible long-term career consequences from one shared mediocre performance. Altogether, these concerns fueled an overwhelming pressure to perform.
CONCLUSIONS: While learners recognized the rationale for learner handover, they feared the possible inadvertent short- and long-term impact on their training and future careers. Designing policies that support transparency and build awareness around learner handover may mitigate unintended consequences that can threaten learning and the learner-supervisor relationship, ensuring learner handover benefits the learner as intended.