Recruiting and Retaining Community-Based Preceptors: A Multicenter Qualitative Action Study of Pediatric Preceptors

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Abstract

Purpose

The recruitment and retention of community preceptors to teach medical students is difficult. The authors sought to characterize the underlying motivational factors for becoming a preceptor and to identify strategies for recruiting and retaining community-based pediatric preceptors.

Method

This multicenter qualitative action study included semistructured interviews with community-based pediatric preceptors affiliated with 12 institutions from August to December 2015. Only active preceptors were included, and participating institutions were diverse with respect to geographic location and class size. Interviews were conducted over the telephone and transcribed verbatim. Six investigators used deidentified transcripts to develop a codebook. Through a constant comparative method, codes were revised as data were analyzed and disagreements were resolved through discussion. All investigators organized the themes into dimensions.

Results

Fifty-one preceptors were interviewed. Forty-one themes coalesced into four dimensions: (1) least liked aspects of teaching, (2) preparation to teach, (3) inspiration to teach, and (4) ways to improve recruitment and retention. Time constraints and patient care demands were the most commonly cited deterrents to teaching. Successful preceptors balanced their clinical demands with their desire to teach using creative scheduling. External rewards (e.g., recognition, continuing medical education credit) served as incentives. Internal motivation inspired participants to share their enthusiasm for pediatrics and to develop longitudinal relationships with their learners.

Conclusions

Changes in health care delivery have imposed more time constraints on community-based preceptors. However, this study identified underlying factors motivating physicians to volunteer as preceptors. Strategies to recruit new and retain current preceptors must be collaborative.

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