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Scheduling : Patients

Research has shown that the presence of a student in a practice increases the workload by about 45 minutes per day (Vinson, Paden, & Devera-Sales, 1996), although this number can vary depending on the ability level of the student. As a preceptor, you can address this issue in a variety of ways:

  • Some preceptors continue to see the same number of patients and have a longer workday while there are students in the office.
  • Some preceptors see fewer patients or schedule different kinds of appointments when working with a student.
  • Some preceptors block out a number of appointment slots on their schedule (intermittently during the day, or the last two) when they are working with a student. This can be used as teaching or catch-up time.
  • Some preceptors may include more slots for walk-in, acute problem visits when they have a student. These are often more interesting and appropriate for the student and can often be handled faster than a complex follow-up visit or full history and physical.

What, if anything, will you do with your scheduling when you have a student in your office?


Scheduling : Students

Although it is likely that the majority of the student's time in your practice will be spent with you, it is not necessary for the student to spend every half-day of his or her rotation seeing patients with you. In order to make the process of having a student in your office a little easier and to broaden the student's educational experience, there are some other options that you can utilize:

  • Schedule a half-day periodically for the student to work with a practice partner. This can give you a break and time to catch up on your own work. In some offices, practitioners share a student equally.
  • Teaching Hints

    If you plan to "share the student," one person still needs to be formally identified to the student and other practitioners as the primary preceptor, for purposes of continuity and evaluation.
  • Have the student visit a patient at home. This setting enables students to take as long as they need to work-up an extensive patient and family history. This activity can be particularly helpful for new students, giving them insight into the social context of a patient's illness.
  • Have the student accompany a patient to a sub-specialty consultation visit.
  • Arrange for the student to spend a half-day with home health, hospice, the health department, or other community agencies you work with and refer patients to.
  • Arrange for the student to visit an industrial site. This may shed light on occupational health issues that arise among your patient population.
  • Have the student accompany you on nursing home rounds, hospital rounds, and/or community health screenings.
  • Have the student accompany you to a hospital medical staff meeting. Students tend to have only limited exposure to the context in which their clinical care is provided. Attending meetings such as this give them a more three-dimensional view of both your role as a physician and the business administration of medical care.
  • Have the student make follow-up phone calls to the patients the student has seen. This activity helps the student develop better rapport with patients. This also makes patients more willing to be seen by a student in the future.

Are there any learning activities outside of your normal clinic time that you plan to have the student participate in during his or her rotation with you? You may use activities previously listed or provide additional activities


Module 1: Taking a Student into your Office