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Acad Med. 2002 Aug;77(8):837-40.

What do medicine clerkship preceptors do best?

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Meyers Primary Care Institute, Fallon Healthcare System, and assistant professor of medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01605, USA.



Students' ratings of preceptors are widely used in medical education for feedback and evaluation purposes. The present study investigated students' ratings of the clinical teaching skills of inpatient attending physicians, inpatient residents, and outpatient attending physicians to assess differences among types of preceptors and relative strengths and weaknesses.


A total of 268 students from three academic years (1997-2000) at one medical school rated preceptors on an end-of-clerkship evaluation, for a total of 1,680 ratings. When the ratings were aggregated by preceptors' names and types, there were 691 mean ratings of preceptors. Relative strengths and weaknesses were identified. Differences in mean ratings by preceptor type (inpatient attending physician, inpatient resident, and outpatient attending physician) were evaluated, and strengths and weaknesses were identified by rank ordering the items' means.


Students tended to rate outpatient attending physicians higher than inpatient attending physicians or residents. Areas where ratings suggested relative strengths included showing an interest in teaching, respecting students' opinions, and being available to students. Areas of relative weakness included increasing physical examination and interviewing skills.


Students' ratings are useful for identifying strengths and weakness for groups of preceptors and, as such, are important sources of information for setting priorities for faculty development efforts.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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