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How to Write Performance Appraisals for Healthcare Workers

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Very few people enjoy being evaluated, but doing so is one of the most powerful ways to increase a worker’s competence. This is particularly important in the health care field, in which decisions can have life or death consequences. When it comes time to write performance appraisals, it is important to take into account a wide range of attributes. The true measure of a worker is best measured as an amalgam of several qualities, including professionalism, bedside manner, interest in continuing education and more.

Write the criteria by which you will evaluate the workers in question. Your institution may have a protocol in mind, or you may have to make up your own. Protocols should vary by job and should account for specific responsibilities. As the Inside Human Resources Blog points out, lab technicians will have very different responsibilities from those of pharmacy aides.

Conduct interviews of each worker or her superiors to gain information. Evaluations may also be written from appraisal forms completed by peers or superiors. Either way, it is important to get as much data as you can so you, as the evaluator, have a good idea of the job the employee does and how well he or she does it. Even if you shadow someone for a significant amount of time, the impressions of coworkers and bosses can complete your understanding of a subject’s effectiveness. Further, when conducting interviews, be sure to write down specific phrases that will enhance the accuracy of your report.

Evaluate each employee with respect to hospital guidelines, in addition to the criteria by which you would judge an employee in any field. The performance review at Montana State Hospital, for example, asks the evaluator to judge an employee’s dedication to “sanitation” and “infection control.”

Compose the performance appraisal, following your basic introduction with a concise summary of his or her effectiveness. This could read something like, “Julia is a registered nurse in palliative care and has been providing exceptional care for patients in her five years in the department.” These direct synopses will allow hospital higher-ups to better earmark promotions and fill out department rosters. These decision-makers must be able to place employees in hospital departments in which they can work well and be happy with their jobs, as well.

Alternate between positive and negative comments whenever possible. Even though it can be tempting to write only favorably about people you know, it is also necessary for people to hear the negative if they are to improve. Phrasing and precision is key, as the business blog Jerm points out. Instead of simply saying that an employee is “bad” at something, you must describe the problem. For example, “Though he has been asked to prepare suggestions several times, Alex has difficulty volunteering new ideas to increase the level of patient care.”

Recommend what you feel is the most logical future path of the employee. Writer Dick Grote of the Global Strategic Management Institute reinforces that evaluations, to be taken seriously, must drive a result. If no one in the hospital administration is making use of the appraisals you are writing, their value is negligible. Whenever possible, include retraining, transfer, promotion and salary raise recommendations.


Ethan Pendleton is a teacher and writer in Columbus, Ohio. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Ohio State University at Marion and teaches writing in various capacities in his community.

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