Observations on the teaching and learning occurring in offices of community-based family and community medicine clerkship preceptors

Fam Med. 2004 Feb;36(2):131-6.


Background and objectives: Previous reports have defined the time that community preceptors spend teaching students, but much remains to be learned about the process and content of office-based teaching. Our objective was to understand better the teaching process and content by documenting how often preceptors used the microskills described in the Five-step "Microskills" Model of Clinical Teaching and how often they discussed tasks described in the Task-oriented Processes in Care (TOPIC) teaching model when working with their students.

Methods: Using a checklist combining these two models, two independent observers documented the teaching and learning that occurred between 12 preceptors and their students.

Results: Inter-rater concordance was 96.2%. Preceptors frequently used two of the teaching microskills, "probe for supporting evidence" and "teach general rules." Preceptors and students frequently discussed many information-processing and management tasks in the TOPIC model.

Conclusions: Despite the lack of training in using either model, preceptors frequently used some teaching microskills and discussed many TOPIC model tasks. This finding supports both models as relevant teaching models but further observational study of preceptors trained in using both models is needed. For the TOPIC model, preceptor development may help preceptors to more explicitly refer to TOPIC tasks when teaching clinical content to students.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Clerkship*
  • Education, Medical
  • Educational Measurement
  • Family Practice / education*
  • Humans
  • Models, Educational
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Preceptorship*
  • Problem-Based Learning
  • Teaching / methods*