Published on Friday, November 06, 2015

An opportunity to give back

By Anne Pereira, MD, and Jeremy Springer, MD

We run into the same barriers again and again. You can’t be a preceptor because you don’t have the time. You need to achieve Relative Value Unit (RVU) goals for your organization. You feel unprepared to teach medical students.

And yet, despite these barriers, some physicians find a way to make the time to host students in their practices year after year. These physicians tell us that they fit teaching into their busy schedules because they feel a sense of obligation to give back to the next generation. After all, they say, “Someone did it for us, right?” 

So, what are you waiting for?

The MMA Primary Care Physician Workforce Expansion Advisory Task Force, which we participated in, recommended, first and foremost, that we find a way to increase capacity for training medical students in high-functioning ambulatory settings in order to encourage students to pursue careers in primary care.  

Medical students need clinical teachers to prepare them for residency and training. In particular, they need exposure and training in the ambulatory setting, given the increasing importance of this venue of care. However, similar to other parts of the country, there is a shortage of physician preceptors for University of Minnesota medical students. This shortage is particularly acute in the ambulatory setting.

There are likely many reasons for this shortage. The MMA is partnering with the U of M Medical School to learn why. This summer we sent out a survey and conducted in-depth interviews with physician education leaders and with clinical preceptors at each of the health systems in Minnesota.

We heard the barriers mentioned above. No time. Other priorities. Nonetheless, there are some physicians who find time to go above and beyond. They tell us it brings professional satisfaction even as it makes their days busier. We deeply appreciate their commitment to the future of our profession.

So, what are you waiting for?

Beyond a sense of commitment and responsibility to the profession and a sense of obligation to contribute in the way that others once contributed to their education, physician preceptors gain deep, professional satisfaction from teaching. They report a feeling of satisfaction from the knowledge that they are contributing in a meaningful way to our future physician workforce. They also enjoy having the opportunity to engage in intellectual conversations, explaining the science and evidence behind what they do each day in practice. It brings them joy in their work and ensures that they are up to date in their clinical care.

Preceptors also describe the benefit of being connected to the U of M Medical School, to be recognized as a teacher and contributor for medical education. The school is actively developing new ways of recognizing this important work and for the preceptors who provide so much teaching and professional time.

So, what are you waiting for?

Isn’t it time you give back to the profession that has given you so much?

Let us know what you think. Share your opinion in the comment section below.

Anne Pereira, MD, MPH, FACP, is assistant dean for clinical education at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Jeremy Springer, MD, served as chair of the MMA’s Primary Care Physician Workforce Expansion Advisory Task Force. He’s a primary care physician in St. Louis Park.

Comments (9)Number of views (533)

Author: Mary Canada


9 comments on article "An opportunity to give back"

Bob McKlveen

11/7/2015 7:35 PM

Are there any opportunities for being a preceptor or otherwise contributing to medical education for non-primary care physicians? I am an anesthesiologist at Abbott Northwestern, and would like to contribute to medical education if there is a way to help.

Jon Larson

11/9/2015 1:12 PM

I have precepted students for the last 15 years. I enjoy many aspects of my interactions with students and often learn as much from them as they do from me. Unfortunately, they are a significant time sink and each year the debate to eliminate teaching from my practice grows stronger. Until we find a way to allow students to directly contribute to the documentation process we will continue to lose preceptors.

Jim Gelbmann

11/9/2015 4:18 PM

Recently retired FP. Please give me more info.

Dennis Kelly

11/12/2015 2:58 PM

The MMA Foundation's Physician Volunteerism Program may provide a way to keep preceptorship top-of-mind for physicians at the very time they may be looking for a way to give back. Visit mmafoundation.org/PVP or contact me, dkelly@mnmed.org, for more information about posting, or discovering, a volunteer opportunity for physicians only!

Debashis Nandy

11/13/2015 11:06 AM

I am a foreign medical graduate, have a compassionate mind to serve MN in primary care shortage area. Wonder, is there is any thought of preceptor program to train the FMGs, followed by residency?



Rochester, MN

Juliana Milhofer

11/13/2015 12:41 PM

Thank you for your comment. The Minnesota Department of Health has a new International Medical Graduates Assistance Program, a program designed to assist immigrant international medical graduates in integrating into the Minnesota health delivery system. I would defer to staff at that program who might be better able to respond to your question. Please contact Yende Anderson, Coordinator of the IMG Assistance Program, via email at Yende.Anderson@state.mn.us


Juliana Milhofer

11/13/2015 2:22 PM

Thank you for your comment, Dr. McKlveen. To learn more about opportunities to contribute to medical educationm please contact Abbe Holmgren, at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Abbe can be reached via email at: alholmgr@umn.edu.

Thank you again for your interest in serving as a preceptor!

Juliana Milhofer

11/13/2015 2:25 PM

Thank you for your comment, Dr. Gelbmann. To learn more about opportunities available for retired physicians, please contact Jim Beattie, at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Jim can be reached via email at: jbeattie@umn.edu.

Thank you again for your interest in contributing to medical education!

Juliana Milhofer

11/13/2015 2:33 PM

Thank you for your comment, Dr. Larson.

One of the recommendations from the MMA's Primary Care Physician Workforce Advisory Task Force was for the MMA to examine ways to increase clinical training sites for medical students, and examine ways to remove barriers that exist in allowing medical students to have more meaningful experiences.

The MMA is currently in the process of implementing that recommendation, which has resulted in the MMA Preceptor Initiative, a partnership between the MMA and the University of Minnesota Medical School improve the training and support for clinical preceptors.

Your comment regarding finding ways to allow medical students to directly contribute to the documentation process is helpful, and I will be sure to bring this back to the advisory group working on our preceptor initiative.

Thank you again!

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