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Acad Med. 2001 May;76(5):489-92.

A primary care preceptorship for first-year medical students coordinated by an Area Health Education Center program: a six-year review.

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  • 1Department of Community Health and Family Medicine, Florida State University, College of Medicine, Tallahassee, FL 32306-4300, USA.


In 1991, the University of Florida College of Medicine established a required primary care preceptorship coordinated by the Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Program for all students in the first semester of medical school. Six years' experience with this course, which is entirely community-based and taught by community physicians, provides evidence of the success of the preceptorship. Over the first six years, 97% of students and 92% of preceptors felt strongly that this was an appropriate and valuable experience for students in the first semester of medical school. All believed that the students were capable of interacting with patients in a meaningful fashion and that the course allowed students to gain confidence as health care providers. The course also reinforced the importance of the basic science curriculum and initiated the process of professional development by affirming students' decisions to pursue a career in medicine. The use of content analysis to further evaluate attitudes and behaviors indicated that the students were highly satisfied with their experience and were active participants in the preceptors' practices. Students' approach to patients as people, rather than cases, was positive, and increased from the first to the last day of the preceptorship. After six years, this preceptorship has been demonstrated to have a positive and meaningful impact on medical student education and development.

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