Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics


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COMSEP Meeting in Ottawa, ON

Poster Presentation:

Community-based Preceptors - Experiences Teaching Medical Students

Julieana . Nichols,,Houston,TX,Dorene F. Balmer,CHOP,Philadelphia,PA,Teresa K. Duryea,Baylor College of Medicine,Houston,Texas


The need for community-based primary care preceptors in medical student education is growing yet these preceptors face unique challenges. Studies have documented the issues of time management and cost as barriers for community preceptors participating in medical student education. There is a paucity of research on strategies to overcome these barriers. The theoretical model, communities of practice, may provide the framework for better understanding barriers to preceptors’ participation in medical student education and inform strategies do deal with them. 


Describe how community-based (CB) pediatric preceptors perceive their community of practice as it relates to medical student education.

Identify teaching activities of CB pediatric preceptors.

Identify gaps in educational resources for CB pediatric preceptors.


The primary investigator conducted in depth interviews with 16 community-based physicians who have served as preceptors to medical students at Baylor College of Medicine. The pediatric practitioners were selected based on a purposeful sample of physicians who currently or previously have served as preceptors to medical students. The interviews were audio-taped and transcribed. Data in the form of interview transcripts were coded and analyzed according to the principles of grounded theory.


Themes from preceptors include the energizing value of teaching students, as evident by consistent comments that students were "enthusiastic," had "fresh attitudes," were "eager to learn," and "challenge you." Preceptors felt valued by working with students as "they want your knowledge" and the students make them "feel appreciated." They reported the importance of the impact they had on the students’ careers as well as the educational benefit that students play in refreshing the preceptors’ knowledge base.  Preceptors shared an extensive array of creative techniques, including physical exam, assessment, and communication skills, in order to make medical student education possible in busy practices. 


Community preceptors express positive regard for their teaching experiences with medical students and offer insights on how to educate medical students. The communities of practice theoretical model provides a framework to engage community practitioners so that they may share their experiences in student education and potentially shape curriculum development.