Background and objectives: The growing demand for primary care clinicians in the United States continues to outstrip their dwindling supply. Many allopathic medical schools, including Stanford University School of Medicine, are not adequately meeting this shortage. We sought to develop a preclerkship elective to increase the visibility and desirability of primary care at our institution.
Methods: A novel 9-week preclerkship elective titled "Primary Care Defined: Perspectives and Procedures," was designed as a series of procedural workshops followed by interactive sessions with local primary care clinicians. A total of 36 medical and physician assistant students were enrolled. We administered a questionnaire pre- and postcourse to evaluate the impact of the elective on learner interest and attitudes toward primary care.
Results: Twenty-four enrolled and 10 nonenrolled learners completed the questionnaire both pre- and postcourse. A one-way analysis of covariance controlling for gender, program (medical doctor versus physician assistant), and precourse responses demonstrated that enrollees had a significantly increased interest in primary care compared to nonenrollees after the course (F 1,32=9.22, P=.005). Enrollees also more positively rated their attitudes toward compensation, scope of practice, and job fulfillment than nonenrollees. Both groups had high levels of agreement on statements concerning patient-physician interactions and the importance of primary care to the health care system.
Conclusion: The design and content of this elective offers a framework for other institutions looking to promote the value of primary care specialties, particularly family medicine. Creating opportunities for experiential learning and early student-faculty engagement may encourage preclerkship learners to consider a career in primary care.
© 2021 by the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine.