Tales from the trenches: physician assistants' perspectives about precepting students.
PURPOSE: A national survey of physician assistants (PAs) found that only 25% of respondents were involved as preceptors for PA students in 2011, and it also identified important barriers and incentives to precept PA students. These findings offer limited information for understanding the nature of this complex phenomenon within its context. The purpose of this study was to further describe key factors that influence the involvement of PAs as preceptors. METHODS: A qualitative study of four focus groups with clinically practicing PAs (N = 29) was conducted at the American Academy of Physician Assistants' annual conference in May 2012. Semistructured interview questions and follow-up probes were used to elicit participants' perspectives about their own and/or witnessed preceptor experiences. The group discussions were audio-recorded, professionally transcribed, and then analyzed line-by-line by four investigators using conceptual and free coding. The independently coded transcripts were merged, and iterative analysis was used to identify recurrent themes until saturation was reached. RESULTS: Four themes emerged: (1) The preceptor role provides an opportunity to "pay back," or contribute to future colleagues' training while advancing the clinician's own knowledge; (2) Student qualities that incentivize precepting are characterized by motivation and self-directed learning, independent of the level of medical knowledge and/or prior experience; (3) Preceptors value feeling connected with the PA program through initial and ongoing communication; (4) Significant competition for clinical rotation sites for various health professional learners limits the access to sites and preceptors. CONCLUSION: PAs identified key areas for potential preceptor recruitment and retention interventions.
Hudak, NM; Enking, PJ; Gorney, C; Gonzalez-Colaso, R
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