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Teaching Medical Students

Why help train medical students?

According to Pat Ecklar, MD, an Ohio State College of Medicine community preceptor with Mt. Carmel Health Systems, there are innumerable benefits that come with being a community preceptor. Many times students are able to uncover underlying patient problems that might not have otherwise surfaced. Students can motivate preceptors to remain current on advances in medicine, which ultimately benefits your patients. But the true reward is the satisfaction that comes with mentoring and providing a future physician with skills and knowledge that they will carry forward into their professional lives.

In addition to strengthening your medical profession and building the foundation of tomorrow’s providers, other
benefits of precepting OhioState medical students include:

  • Obtaining a faculty appointment as Clinical Assistant Professor in the College of Medicine
  • Receiving CME Category II/I-B credits for precepting students
  • Accessing clinical presentations via the web from the OSU Center for Continuing Medical Education
  • Accessing the resources of Ohio State’s libraries, receptions, seminars, and appreciation events.

What’s the time commitment?

The time commitment varies with the program and level of medical student. First- and second-year medical student contact with a practitioner is limited - - First-year students require 15 contact hours over a period of 8 weeks in the spring. These sessions focus on history taking. Second-year students need 15 contact hours over 10 weeks in the fall. These sessions focus on the components of the physical examination.

The time commitment for third and fourth-year students varies with the Clerkship. Most Ambulatory Clerkship preceptors take from 2 - 4 students during the clinical year, July - June. Contact with each student during this clerkship is 4 days per week over a 4-week rotation.

At the end of a rotation, preceptors formally evaluate students using an efficient online process. This evaluation provides students information about their strengths and weaknesses so that they can continue to grow professionally. These evaluations are also essential to the medical school.

How will it impact my practice?

When a nurse takes a patient to an examining room, the first person who walks through the door can be a medical student. After an introduction and a series of questions, the doctor walks in to supervise with the ultimate goal of developing a diagnosis and treatment plan.

The literature has shown that the impact of a third-year student in an office-based setting is the equivalent of one more hour per day. OSU preceptors, however, have reported that students with prior clerkships quickly adapt to the pace of office practice. The College of Medicine works with practices to minimize the impact on patient flow.

"One of the most educationally rewarding and exciting things I remember from medical school is the time I spent with my Community Preceptor. Dr. Milton taught me more in the time I spent with her than any other individual educational experience. I will always be grateful for the time that she volunteered to help build my medical foundation."

Daniel Clinchot
Associate Dean for Clinical Education
College of Medicine

How do I prepare my patients and office staff?

Patients generally react positively to their doctor taking the time and having the foresight to train medical students. They feel more valued because medical students can spend more time with them while the doctor may be busy attending to other patients. Office staff need to understand how the medical students fit into the office workflow. Before a student arrives, preceptors should decide what duties the student will perform – e.g., dictation and charting. Many preceptors involve students with chart notes because it is an essential skill, just like asking the right questions to determine a diagnosis. Some patients in an office-based environment may hesitate to allow anyone but their doctor to examine them if their medical concerns are of a sensitive nature. In these cases, a student might be given time to work with staff in the front office or laboratory, or to do some reading.