Background and objectives: The majority of medical students receive some of their training with a community preceptor. Nearly all of these preceptors are motivated by a desire to give back to their profession through teaching and they want to learn how to teach more effectively. Designing effective educational programs to improve preceptor teaching is important to upholding the quality of medical education.
Methods: We designed an educational program consisting of readings, short videos, handouts and posters, as well as one-on-one sessions with a trained standardized medical student. The standardized student visited the community physician's office both before and after the preceptor engaged with the educational materials related to a subject area of the preceptor's choosing. We assessed the preceptor's teaching using three tools: self-evaluation, student reporting of observed behaviors, and an overall rating of teaching effectiveness.
Results: Thirteen preceptors took part in this the educational intervention. Per the self-assessment, preceptors showed improved teaching competency for all items on the questionnaire, with 12 of the 21 items (57%) showing statistically significant results (P<.05). The standardized student reported that preceptors used more of eight desired teaching behaviors in the second mock preceptor encounter than they used in the first, with a mean increase of 1.46 (P=.001). Overall teaching effectiveness scores increased, with a mean increase of 1.15 (P=.001) on the 10-point scale. Moreover, all participants indicated they were either satisfied or highly satisfied with the program and that they would recommend this program to a colleague.
Conclusions: Our preceptor-improvement intervention led to demonstrable improvement in preceptor teaching, as measured by preceptor evaluation and evaluation by the standardized student. More research is needed to see if these results can be replicated and, in particular, to determine which aspects of the intervention were most useful.