A survey of primary care physicians' perceptions and needs regarding the precepting of medical students in their offices

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Pediatrics; Department of Family Medicine and Community Health

Publication Date


Document Type



Education, Medical; Family Practice; Female; Humans; Male; New England; Physician's Role; Preceptorship; Questionnaires; Students, Medical


Health Services Research | Primary Care


OBJECTIVE: To assess the interest, perceptions, and needs of primary care physicians with regard to office-based precepting of medical students.

DESIGN: Random survey.

SETTING: The New England region of the United States (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut).

PARTICIPANTS: Family physicians, general internists and paediatricians.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: These included: (1) practice and preceptor demographics; (2) Likert scale agreement or disagreement with various positive and negative perceptions about precepting students; rating (from unimportant to necessary) of potential benefits from medical schools associated with the support of precepting in the office setting, and (3) comparisons among physician groups to determine differences in perceptions and needs.

RESULTS: There is a high level of interest in precepting regardless of primary care specialty, practice structure, payment mechanism, or precepting experience. Negative impacts included decreased productivity and increased length of the day by a median of 60 minutes. Positive impacts included keeping one's own knowledge up-to-date and enhanced enjoyment of practice. Benefits such as academic appointments, continuing medical education credits, faculty development, computer linkages for clinical information and medical library access are rated highly. Monetary payment, whether as a modest honorarium or as compensation for lost time/income, was felt to be important by half of our sample.

CONCLUSION: A significant interest in precepting medical students on a regular basis is expressed by primary care physicians in the ambulatory medicine setting. The results of this survey can be used by medical schools to address negative perceptions and to develop appropriate benefits packages to recruit and retain these primary care preceptors.

DOI of Published Version



Med Educ. 2001 Aug;35(8):789-95. DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2923.2001.00980.x

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Medical education

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID