Are nonphysician health care providers prepared and supported to teach in family medicine?

Fam Med. 2015 Mar;47(3):187-93.


Background and objectives: Understanding how nonphysician health care providers (NPHCPs) teach medical trainees is integral to optimizing family medicine education. The objective of this study was to examine the teaching roles, level of preparation and support, and the challenges encountered by NPHCPs.

Methods: A cross-sectional web-based survey of NPHCPs was conducted across academic teaching units affiliated with the University of Toronto's Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM). The level of preparation for educational roles, perceived support, challenges encountered, and educational training needs of NPHCPs were examined. Variables associated with preparedness to teach were also identified.

Results: Of the 193 NPHCPs surveyed, 166 (86%) completed the questionnaire. A total of 126 (82%) of NPHCP educators (nurses, social workers, dietitians, and pharmacists) reported teaching medical trainees. Most did not hold faculty appointments. The majority had no formal training in teaching, and less than half felt prepared for their academic responsibilities. NPHCPs perceived a lack of support for their teaching. NPHCPs also identified predictable challenges such as lack of time and lack of funding. Challenges specific to cross-professional teaching were also identified. NPHCPs expressed an interest in receiving continuing education to improve their teaching skills. NPHCPs' self-reported level of preparedness to teach was variable and associated with years of teaching experience, information received about trainees, challenges faced, and continuing education needs.

Conclusions: NPHCPs are extensively involved in teaching medical trainees. There is variability in their preparation level, and they encounter significant challenges. To advance effective and sustainable inter-professional education (IPE) within family medicine, addressing these issues is crucial.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Faculty, Medical / statistics & numerical data
  • Family Practice / education*
  • Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Professional Role
  • Teaching*