Family Medicine Clerkship

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Faculty Development Resources

Many faculty development resources exist that could be used or revised in support of the FMCR recommendations and resources. Several sets of preceptor development materials have been used in preceptor workshops throughout the country in recent years, including the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM) Preceptor Education Project (PEP) materials (1992 and 1999), the Primary Care Futures Project (PCFP) materials (University of Massachusetts, 1996), and Teaching in the Ambulatory Setting packaged course (Michigan State University, 1999). [ Go to the list at the end of this page.]

There are many current Web sites that provide resources for planning, implementing, and evaluating faculty development programs that can be directed to the FMCR competencies (c.f. University of Massachusetts Community Faculty Development Center for linkages to important sites and a "toolbox" of resources for delivery:

There are many sources of preceptor development activities. The key is to determine and find those that are most accessible to your preceptors and compatible with your preceptors' situation and preferred learning style.

These sources include:

  1. The medical school or department that sends you students
  2. The students
  3. Self-study
  4. National and state specialty academy-sponsored activities/materials
  5. Health system-sponsored activities/materials

The initial source of faculty development in support of your preceptors should be the medical school or department that assigns students to work in your preceptors' practices. Most teaching programs have preceptor manuals or handbooks that outline the basic requirements of your preceptors. These manuals often contain faculty development tips or opportunities as well as details on how the student clerkship, elective, or preceptorship functions.

The school or department should also provide regular faculty development via site visits to the preceptor's practice, workshops on campus or at other locations, and via articles or other materials such as the Family Medicine column, "For the Office-Based Teacher of Family Medicine" that many family medicine programs distribute to their preceptors on a regular basis.

States like North Carolina and Vermont have funded Area Health Education Centers (AHEC), which provide support to community-based preceptors. Examples include the Wake AHEC Office of Regional Primary Care Education (ORPCE) in Raleigh, North Carolina, the Mountain AHEC in Asheville, North Carolina, and the Southern Vermont AHEC in Springfield, Vermont. Preceptors who work in these and other AHEC areas should check with those centers to get more information on faculty development programs and resources available to them for their teaching activities.

The students assigned to a preceptor's practice are also a potential source of faculty development. Just as community-based teachers often take advantage of the students' recent immersion in the academic medical center to learn the latest approach to the treatment of specific diseases, the preceptor can also benefit from the students' experience with computer and other information technology to improve the preceptor's teaching and self-directed learning skills. Or students can describe teaching techniques they have found useful in other clerkships that the preceptor might be encouraged to try as well.

Preceptors who get most of their CME via self-study methods (audiotapes, journal articles, Internet-based materials, etc.) are likely to use this approach to developing their precepting skills as well. Numerous books, journals, and other resources are included among the FMCR resources that could be used for this purpose. Preceptors who excel at self-directed learning can develop their skills as teachers by exploring the various preceptor development materials that are available in print, in various audiovisual media, and in cyberspace.

In addition to approaches where physicians learn teaching skills independently or via the medical school, residency program or department, there are several venues for pursuing teaching skill development through national academy-sponsored activities and materials. In addition to specialty-specific organizations such as the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), or American College of Physicians (ACP), there are more broadly based organizations such as the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) and the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) that have incorporated teaching skills sessions into their national meetings or their publications. An example of a publication prepared by a specialty organization is Community-Based Teaching, published by ACP (Deutsch & Noble, 1997).

The beauty of incorporating teaching skill sessions into these meetings is that it enables physicians to combine their clinical skill development with their teaching skill development in one fell swoop. Within family practice, each year large numbers of family physicians attend workshops at the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Scientific Assembly to develop and enhance their teaching skills. One to two workshops on teaching students and residents in the office are routinely offered as additional workshops at this national meeting.

Several organizations are more geared toward academic physicians, but offer programs or materials for use of the community-based teacher. These include the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM), the Ambulatory Pediatric Association (APA), and the Society of General Internal Medicine (SGIM). An example of a publication from pediatrics, Pediatric Education in Community Settings: A Manual, was published as a joint effort involving AAP and APA. (DeWitt & Roberts, 1996). Currently the AAP is developing new materials for use by community pediatricians for use when teaching students and residents. Check with the AAP for information on how to access the "Starter Kit: A Guide for Pediatricians/Mentors" and the Compendium of Resources, which are scheduled to be available in 2004 and 2005, respectively. STFM provides scholarships for community preceptors to attend some of their national and regional meetings as a means to improve interactions between academic family physicians and their community colleagues.

For some preceptors, there are opportunities at the local and regional level. Some state academies sponsor preceptor development programs as part of state or regional meetings.

In recent years more specialty organizations have made efforts to provide information on faculty development resources on their Web sites. An Internet search using "preceptor" as the key word reveals numerous resources that are suitable for self-study. Some resources are developed by the specialty society, while others like the ones mentioned here are listed on the organization's Web site.

The Mountain AHEC in Asheville, North Carolina has on-line resources at

EPIC, the Expert Preceptor Interactive Curriculum from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, is available on-line at

In areas of the country where health systems have made a commitment to supporting education, there have been instances where the health system has supported teaching development programs for physicians working in its sites. As more medical schools and residency programs enter into collaborative relationships with health systems, this might become a more frequent source of preceptor development activities.

Mark Quirk's work from the STFM Faculty Futures Initiative (FFI) provides an excellent foundation for exploring options for how to implement faculty development in support of FMCR. Quirk conducted 14 focus groups and reported that participants "emphasized that future faculty development methods must be proven effective, woven into the fabric of clinical practice, and deal with increasing time and financial pressures." The need for national and regional strategies was also very evident from the focus groups with an emphasis on outcome evaluation, flexibility, and access. Web-based delivery systems and developing faculty development activities according to preceptor needs were also notable findings. The major conclusion was a call for a more rigorous, evidence-based approach to faculty development. (Fam Med. 2002; 34(10): 755-60.) The full study and an annotated bibliography of many recent faculty development articles with their outcomes are presented in an STFM monograph entitled: The Future of Faculty Development (Quirk, 2002).

In summary, there is a wide range of options available to preceptors and faculty in their efforts to develop their teaching skills. A physician's specialty, geographic location, and the nature of the physician's affiliation with a medical school, residency program, department, and/or health system will dictate some of the options for continued development of preceptor teaching skills.

General Teaching / Faculty Development Resources


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This page last updated November 6, 2004