Preparing Your Office

  • Post the Dalhousie Family Medicine preceptor plaque in your waiting room to notify your patients that you take learners
  • Use the orientation checklist when the learner arrives. [PDF - 111 KB]

Have you notified your staff that you have a learner coming?

You will want to ensure that the learners get added to the schedule.

Have you considered how you want to schedule the learner?

Consider the principle of graduated learning. Students early in their medical training (Med I and II years) will usually shadow your visits; however, over the duration of the rotation, they should try to take their own histories. Clerks and residents should see patients on their own and review the cases with you. Clerks should see three to six patients per half day; residents should be scheduled to see patients every 20 to 40 minutes. For more guidelines on this, refer to the guidelines for level of responsibility for learners.

You should also consider if you want to schedule patients directly with the learner or if you want to pick patients off your own list. You may want to schedule time within your schedule to review patients with the learner. An example is “wave scheduling”:

  • Physician sees patient #1 in appointment slot #1, student sees patient #2 in appointment slot #1
  • Physician reviews patient #2 with student in appointment slot #2
  • Physician sees patient #3 in appointment slot #3 while student documents patient #2.

Have you notified the hospital staff/other colleagues that you have a learner coming?

You want to ensure that the team is engaged in the teaching process— allied health professionals also provide exceptional learning opportunities. You can also encourage them to ask patients if they would like to see learners in a positive way such as “Would you like to help us teach our student/clerk/resident today?” or “We are involved in teaching to try to encourage new doctors to come to our community—would you like to help?”

Do you have any special patients you think would offer a good learning experience?

You may have a patient who has a unique clinical finding, or who has a very interesting story that you might like to book in with the learner. While the learner is on-site you may identify areas of weakness requiring further exposure. For example, suppose the learner states that he/she has not had enough exposure to managing a diabetic with insulin. You could select patients to be booked with the learner to augment their experience.

Consider the level of the learner

Remember to consider the complexity of the patients and the level of the learner. A fresh new clerk may not be able to manage a complex patient with the same skill as a clerk at the end of their clerkship year. A resident who is about to start their own practice in two months should be able to function very independently, compared to one that is in the first month of their first year.