Examining the teaching roles and experiences of non-physician health care providers in family medicine education: a qualitative study

BMC Med Educ. 2015 Feb 13;15:15. doi: 10.1186/s12909-015-0283-8.


Background: Primary Care reform in Canada and globally has encouraged the development of interprofessional primary care initiatives. This has led to significant involvement of non-physician Health Care Providers (NPHCPs) in the teaching of medical trainees. The objective of this study was to understand the experiences, supports and challenges facing non-physician health care providers in Family Medicine education.

Methods: Four focus groups were conducted using a semi-structured interview guide with twenty one NPHCPs involved in teaching at the University of Toronto, Department of Family & Community Medicine. The focus groups were transcribed and analyzed for recurrent themes. The multi-disciplinary research team held several meetings to discuss themes.

Results: NPHCPs were highly involved in Family Medicine education, formally and informally. NPHCPs felt valued as teachers, but this often did not occur until after learners understood their educator role through increased time and exposure. NPHCPs expressed a lack of advance information of learner knowledge level and expectations, and missed opportunities to give feedback or receive teaching evaluations. Adequate preparation time, teaching space and financial compensation were important to NPHCPs, yet were often lacking. There was low awareness but high interest in faculty status and professional development opportunities.

Conclusions: Sharing learner goals and objectives and offering NPHCPs feedback and evaluation would help to formalize NPHCP roles and optimize their capacity for cross-professional teaching. Preparation time and dedicated space for teaching are also necessary. NPHCPs should be encouraged to pursue faculty appointments and to access ongoing Professional Development opportunities.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Canada
  • Education, Medical / organization & administration*
  • Family Practice / education*
  • Family Practice / organization & administration
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Professional Role*
  • Qualitative Research