Rural general practitioner preceptors-how can effective undergraduate teaching be supported or improved?

Baker, P. G., Dalton, L. and Walker, J. (2003) Rural general practitioner preceptors-how can effective undergraduate teaching be supported or improved?. Rural and Remote Health, 3 .

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Author Baker, P. G.
Dalton, L.
Walker, J.
Title Rural general practitioner preceptors-how can effective undergraduate teaching be supported or improved?
Journal name Rural and Remote Health   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1445-6354
Publication date 2003
Sub-type Article (original research)
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 3
Total pages 11
Place of publication Deakin West, ACT 2600 Australia
Publisher Australian Rural Health Education Network
Language eng
Subject 11 Medical and Health Sciences
Formatted abstract
Introduction: General practitioners (GPs) as rural GP-Preceptors play an important role in medical student teaching within the Discipline of General Practice, University of Tasmania, Australia. As well a significant teaching role, they are responsible for apportioning 20% of the mark medical students receive in the General Practice examination at the end of the rotation. The contribution of the student-rural GP preceptor relationship to recruiting and retaining rural GPs has been acknowledged. Despite these important responsibilities, as honorary teaching staff rural GP preceptors receive no formal training in undergraduate education or assessment, nor did they receive formal peer support.

Method: To address the lack of educational preparation of GP-preceptors, and in accordance with the stringent teaching and assessment standards of the Australian Medical School Accreditation, a number of initiatives were implemented to support educational skill development among rural GP-preceptors. The University Department of Rural Health devised and implemented an interdisciplinary educational and support program for GP preceptors, entitled Preceptor Onsite Preparation Program for Information Education and Support, or POPPIES. A comprehensive needs analysis informed the development and implementation of three inter-disciplinary workshops. The Discipline of General Practice conducted a pre and post placement evaluation of the teaching efficacy of 64 rural GP-Preceptors by questionnaire and 76 urban GP-preceptors by surveying 64 final-year medical students after their 3-week rural and urban GP attachments.

Results: The needs analysis indicated that the majority of rural preceptors had no clear understanding of how what they taught fitted into the overall curriculum; they believed that their role as a clinical teacher had not been clearly defined by the program director; and also that undergraduate students had little understanding of what they needed to learn during their attachments. In contrast, preceptors believed they understood what students needed to learn; they were confident in performing the role of preceptor; and were familiar with adult learning principles, goal setting processes, effective student evaluation and the provision of appropriate performance feedback. Evaluation of feedback from students revealed that while rural GP preceptors performed well overall in regard to providing quality teaching and learning experiences, there was a significant spread of scores across all criteria, and approximately 15%-25% of students perceived various aspects of their attachment to be mediocre or poor.

Conclusion: Both the pre-placement Discipline of General Practice survey results of the medical student questionnaire and the UDRH rural preceptor survey indicated both a need and a desire for educational skills development among rural preceptors. On this basis, the interdisciplinary educational and support program for GP-preceptors (POPPIES) was developed and implemented as a series of workshops throughout rural Tasmania. Although no objective data are yet available about teaching outcomes as a result of POPPIES workshops, preliminary responses from attendee GP preceptors indicated that the workshops were effective in addressing educational needs, and in providing rural clinical teachers with professional teaching development.
Keyword Preceptors
Rural teaching workshops
Undergraduate medical education
Q-Index Code C1
Additional Notes Article number: 107

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
School of Medicine Publications
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Created: Mon, 10 Apr 2006, 22:25:44 EST