No healthcare professional is pleased to hear about an upcoming performance review. At best, these represent a genuinely helpful way to get some pointers about how to improve the quality of the healthcare one provides (although there’s always something negative in there that feels like it’s only there because it needs to be). At worst, there is a lot of bureaucratic nonsense that seems to scold you for many things which are simply not your fault.

Health Jobs Nationwide, an online health jobs recruitment service, advises all recent graduates to prepare for performance reviews as a simple fact of working life. However, they also note that very often, performance reviews will include criticisms that were not at all indicated in either the interview or the rules and regulations enforced at any given institution. Quite simply, performance reviews really do have to contain some criticism, which is why people don’t like them. Nevertheless, this also hints at perhaps the best advice for dealing with performance reviews. There is no need to overly worry about these criticisms; you can rest safe in the knowledge that everyone is receiving them.

Nonetheless, this upside is something of a double-edged sword. What if there genuinely is something seriously lacking in your day-to-day job performance? Dealing with this is quite a different matter than dealing with a bog standard and generally positive review.

Being Diplomatic

It’s particularly important to stress that a performance review is not just a sheet of paper. Most medical performance reviews also take the form of an interview-like situation where your management will go over the good and bad with you in person. In such a situation, you need to be diplomatic in your responses but, just like with interviews, you need to know your own worth and when to hold your ground a little.

As mentioned at the beginning, much of what is contained with a performance review can be nothing more than a bureaucratic process of following standard procedure. Here your interview and diplomatic skills will come in useful and, chances are, your managers will also be rolling their eyes a bit at the things they need to say to you. Still, remember also that sometimes it can be serious criticism and you need to know how to identify that and respond to it with the requisite humility.

A Bad Performance Review

How do you deal with a performance review that is very genuinely a reflection of real shortcomings on your part? You have options:

Start Planning How to Improve

One of the things you need to avoid is to take the review personally. Occasionally, workplace resentments manifest in performance reviews, but sometimes you need to genuinely consider that you might not be up to par. Most importantly, you should communicate to your manager how you plan to improve.

Ask for Training

If you feel like you’ve fallen short of standards because you didn’t have the requisite training or information, ask for it. Most of time, management will appreciate this because it shows you are willing to improve.


This is the nuclear option, of course. But you should also consider if the reason you received a performance review is genuinely because you are dissatisfied with your job and are merely showing up every day. If this is the case, it doesn’t help anybody for you to stick around. New horizons await.

Performance reviews are not fun, but they are a fact of working as a healthcare professional. Analyze the situation as closely as you can though, and you’ll soon learn the way to go if it comes back worse than you expected.