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Preceptor Experience

Acquiring a knowledge base and developing a clinical reasoning process are crucial to your development as a physician. You will be learning and practicing communication and physical examination skills that allow you to acquire essential information about the patient. The development of these skills is facilitated by patient simulations, especially those involving standardized patients. However, much of the essence of physician skills and professional behaviors is best learned in practice. For this reason you are assigned to a physician who will serve as your preceptor and clinical mentor.

You will spend four hours two to three times per month with your preceptor, observing and participating to the extent that your developing skills allow. Your primary goal for the preceptor experience should be to become comfortable interacting with patients, practicing communications and physical exam skills, and learning as much as you can from a physician role model. You will be required to log all your patient encounters. Additionally, there will be some FDC and/or Essentials Core block objectives that will be applied to your preceptor experience.

Tips for making your preceptor experience excellent include:

  • Help direct your learning experience by communicating regularly with your preceptor about what you need to be learning. It is important to take responsibility for your own learning.
  • Accept that your experience may differ considerably from your classmates’ experiences.
  • Encourage your preceptor and the staff to schedule patients that you have seen before back for return visits so you can see them again. Ask your preceptor if there are several patients or families that you could follow more closely over the three years.
  • Tell patients that you are a medical student.
  • Integrate into the usual work pattern of the practice, be a valuable team member.
  • Make an effort to apply some of the basic science knowledge you are acquiring to the patients you encounter.
  • Be a self-directed learner. Research patient related problems you encounter. This is what you will be doing for the rest of your career.
  • Ask for help when needed.
  • Use the “Goal Sheet” to help guide your preceptorship sessions to meet your learning needs and focus your clinical experience
  • Communicate with FDC if you are having difficulties with any of the above

Disclaimer: We are a pluralistic society and the practice of medicine is not a hard science. You will be exposed to different styles of practice even among physicians in the same specialty. Your experiences may differ from those of your colleagues, but this is to be expected throughout your training as a physician. Please call the Associate Course Director if you feel there is a mismanaged patient care issue or ethical problem in any of the clinical situations you encounter.