Using differences between perceptions of importance and competence to identify teaching needs of primary care preceptors

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Pediatrics; Meyers Primary Care Institute; Department of Family Medicine and Community Health

Publication Date


Document Type



Clinical Clerkship; Faculty, Medical; Family Practice; Humans; Internal Medicine; Pediatrics; Physicians, Family; Preceptorship; Professional Competence; Teaching; United States


Health Services Research | Medical Education | Primary Care


BACKGROUND: An important goal of a comprehensive faculty development plan is to improve teaching. This is especially important for clinical preceptors.

PURPOSE: This study used a novel approach to assessing the teaching needs of preceptors, an essential and often neglected first step in faculty development. Measurement focused on discrepancies between importance and current performance related to a rich variety of teaching behaviors. This study also considered differences in perceived teaching needs among primary care specialties.

METHOD: Twenty-six clerkship directors from 13 participating medical schools in the Northeast United States invited randomly selected family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatric preceptors to complete a teaching needs survey. One hundred five preceptors responded.

RESULT: Findings revealed that preceptors most need to develop general teaching skills that will help them save time such as selecting appropriate teaching behaviors, assessing learners' needs and providing appropriate feedback, and helping learners learn independently. On the other hand, preceptors expressed less need to improve teaching related to cost containment, disease prevention, clinical decision making, office management, and using computers to aid teaching. Family practice preceptors rated their current teaching performance significantly higher than pediatric preceptors despite no differences in previous faculty development experience.

CONCLUSION: Faculty development for preceptors should focus on general teaching skills relative to teaching skills tied to specific medical areas. Novel approaches to teaching while practicing medicine that increase efficiency should be explored. Faculty developers should consider differences in confidence among preceptors from different specialties.


Mark Quirk, Sarah Stone, Sarah Devaney-O'Neil, Kathleen Mazor, Susan Starr & Daniel Lasser (2002): Using Differences Between Perceptions of Importance and Competence to Identify Teaching Needs of Primary Care Preceptors.Teaching and Learning in Medicine, 14:3, 157-163.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Teaching and learning in medicine

Related Resources

Link to article in PubMed

PubMed ID