It’s all about relationships: A qualitative study of family physicians’ teaching experiences in rural longitudinal clerkships

Cary Cuncic
Glenn Regehr
Heather Frost
Joanna Bates
Soort article
Original Research
Family medicine preceptors,
Longitudinal integrated clerkships,
Relationship-based teaching,
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Introduction The relationship between preceptor and trainee is becoming recognized as a critical component of teaching, in particular in the negotiation of feedback and in the formation of professional identity. This paper elaborates on the nature of the relationships between preceptor and student that evolve in the context of rural longitudinal integrated clerkships (LICs).

Methods We drew on constructivist grounded theory for the research approach. We interviewed nine LIC family practice preceptors from three sites at one educational institution. We adapted the interview framework based on early findings. We analyzed the data through a constant comparative process. We then drew on concepts of relationship-based learning as sensitizing concepts in a secondary analysis.

Results We constructed three themes from the data. First, preceptors developed trusting professional and personal relationships with students over time. These relationships expanded to include friendship, advocacy, and ongoing contact beyond the clerkship year. Second, preceptors’ approach to teaching was anchored in the relationship with an understanding of the individual student. Third, preceptors set learning goals collaboratively with their students, based not only on program objectives, but also with the student as a future physician in mind.

Discussion Our findings suggest that rural family medicine preceptors developed engaged and trusting relationships with their students over time. These relationships imbued all activities of teaching and learning with an individual and personal focus. This orientation may be a key factor in supporting the learning outcomes demonstrated for students studying in rural LICs.


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