Orientating a Medical Learner to Your Practice

Preparing to welcome a medical learner into your clinical environment may seem like an insurmountable challenge.

Where to begin? What do you need to prepare and consider?

  • Time to prepare and plan for your learner
  • Directions to office or clinic location
  • Plan to have someone greet and welcome learner to the office
  • Introduction to staff
  • Office logistics (washroom, break area, office space, tour of clinic space etc)
  • Orientation to the practice (hours, how to communicate test, phone)
    Expectations when seeing patients (how will this flow)

While it will take time and a team effort to ensure a welcoming, safe, and inclusive learning environment for learners, the effort will create benefits for everyone involved.


While providing your team with awareness that a learner is arriving and preparing your office or clinical setting is a good step; a better approach would be to ask your office staff to help you create a logistically sound orientation plan for your learner. 

Unfortunately, learners have arrived for their first day of a clinical experience full of nerves, energy, and excitement only to find to find surprised looks on staff faces. 

Prior communication about when learners may be arriving indicates learners feel valued when they are welcomed by office staff who are prepared for their arrival.  

Pro Tips:

  • An orientation checklist ensures thorough and consistent information sharing when learners arrive.
  • Show the student around both office and clinic space, explain logistics and policies and have the appropriate privacy and liability paperwork signed.
  • Consider having the learner go through your office as a patient would and receive a mini orientation from the appropriate staffer in each area.
  • Sit down with the learner to decide on learning objectives, discuss the student’s comfort level in patient care and establish what tasks you’re comfortable having them handle for you.
  • Consider implementing a Learning Contract.
  • Orient Your Patients! Don’t let the presence of a medical learner at your office be a surprise for your patients – their comfort level matters, too
  • Reflect! After the patient encounters that you and the student engage in together, take a few moments to reflect on the patient’s condition and the events of the visit. Even just a quick recap and explanation of why you prescribed a certain medication are informative for a student.
  • Don’t feel the need to go into full-on ‘teacher mode’ to impart knowledge. Go about your business as usual and encourage the student to learn from your example.
  • Foster growth and excellence in the up-and-coming doc.


Dewitt, Dawn. (2006). Incorporating medical students into your practice. Australian family physician. 35. 24-6.

Review the sample orientation checklists.

Reflect to when you were a medical learner arriving to an office and the orientations you did OR did not receive:

  1. How did this impact your learning?
  2. Consider what you and your team do to prepare for a medical learner. What information will be shared with your learners upon arrival to help create a welcome, safe and organized learning environment?


Welcome Email to Learner Sample.

Dalhousie Faculty of Medicine Undergraduate Medical Education Program Objectives


Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship Dalhousie (LICD) https://medicine.dal.ca/departments/core-units/undergraduate/program/LICD.html  

Clerkship Objectives - https://medicine.dal.ca/departments/core-units/undergraduate/faculty-staff/Objectives.html