The Emotional Abuse of Physicians-Part 4: Tools of the Trade, The Feedback Trap

The emotional despair of physicians as a whole is at an all-time high. The workplace stressors experienced by physicians as a result of the COVID pandemic have revealed the toxic nature of the medical establishment in the United States.

What physicians have experienced and endured is nothing short of emotional abuse. And like any good abuser, the medical establishment and health care organizations have made physicians participate in their abuse by using tools of manipulation. One such tool is what I like to call, The Feedback Trap.

The Feedback Trap works like this:

You get called into a meeting by your director. In that meeting, they tell you that your clinical skills are fine, but there is a problem regarding “your interpersonal interaction with the staff.”  When you ask for specifics, they can’t give you any. They won’t tell you which staff member has the problem with you, what the exact issue is, what was said or done that was so offensive, or the date and time of the said incident.

They won’t give you any objective details about a subjective experience. Nor do they give you any meaningful advice on how to deal with the perceived issue. Or, they tell you to be “more of a team player.”

What exactly does that mean?

As a result, you leave the meeting confused and you have more questions.  And then you start doubting yourself and questioning any and every interaction you have had with every staff member…..

This feedback trap, or non-constructive criticism, makes you begin to doubt and question yourself as a physician, with the ultimate goal of getting you to behave in a manner that the “powers that be” think you should.

This is manipulation and emotional abuse.



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