Lead by Example Be a Preceptor

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Lead by Example
Be a Preceptor
Many health care workforce experts are
predicting a shortage of physicians and other
health care clinicians over the next 20 years.
The physician assistant (PA) profession is well-positioned to help meet the demand for health care
providers. While the majority of PA programs are
willing to consider increasing their enrollments, limited clinical training sites and preceptors are the most
significant barriers to program expansion. In order to
increase the number of PAs graduating each year to
meet projected workforce shortages, the number of
clinical training sites must be increased. This is where clinical PAs can step in to help their profession by precepting PA students, just as other PAs and physicians did for them. “Paying it forward” will enable clinically
practicing PAs to help train the next generation of PAs and carry the whole profession forward. If you have
ever thought about precepting — now is the time to step forward.
In 2011, PAEA’s Clinical Education Committee (CEC) administered a preceptor survey to almost 80,000 clinically practicing PAs. Among those PAs who currently precept, the most frequently cited reasons for choosing
to become a preceptor were the opportunity to give back to the profession (90%), feeling that teaching is
rewarding (86%), and wanting to keep up-to-date in the field (78%). Of those respondents who had never precepted, a frequent comment was that they had never been asked. So… we’re asking!
Ten Reasons to Be a Preceptor
1. Students are a great source of
future employees
2. Obtain university faculty
appointments
3. Students are savvy about new
technology
4. Earn Category II CME credit for
recertification
5. Experience the joy of teaching
6. Students bring energy and
enthusiasm to your practice
7. Use of university libraries,
discounted tuition, free CME
8. PA students can help educate
your colleagues and patients
about the profession
9. Teaching students keeps you
current
10. It feels good to give back to
your profession
Why precept a student?
Students bring many wonderful assets to a practice: energy,
enthusiasm, technological expertise, and new ideas. They can
help educate and enlighten practices and patients about the PA
profession. And perhaps most valuable of all, students are a
tremendous source of potential new employees; more than onethird of PAs find their first job through clinical rotations. During
the clinical rotation, as a preceptor, you can test their ability to
learn new skills and determine whether the student is a good fit
for your practice.
How much time will it take out of my day?
Good teaching and supervision do take time. However, PA students can often add productive time to the preceptor’s
day overall. The student can greet the patient and complete the history and physical examination while the preceptor is
seeing other patients or taking care of administrative tasks. The PA profession embraces the team approach to the
practice of medicine, so PA students can also work with and learn from other clinicians in the practice.
Will it mean more paperwork for me?
Many sites do require documentation such as evidence of HIPAA training, background checks, and immunization status. However, the PA program facilitates completion of the required institutional paperwork, develops the affiliation
agreement with the site, and schedules the students. The number of students you will precept over a given year and the
duration of the affiliation agreement are negotiated between the PA program and the site. No special certification is
required to precept a student. Liability for the student lies with the PA program.
What tangible benefits are there to precepting?
With a few exceptions, PA programs do not offer financial compensation to precept PA students. However, programs
do offer many other incentives for preceptors, including:
An adjunct faculty appointment (an excellent
resume addition)
Free or reduced-cost CME courses
Free or reduced-cost board review courses
Faculty development training
Use of the university library system and
other resources
Tuition vouchers
Certificate or recognition
If you are a practicing PA who is interested in serving as a preceptor for PA students, visit the
PAEA website for an interactive map that provides contact information for all programs by state:
www.PAEAonline.org/programmap
How can I learn more?
The Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) website has a special section dedicated to precepting at
www.PAEAonline.org/preceptor.html. It includes a variety of resources on clinical teaching and other aspects of
precepting. PAEA also offers the Preceptor Orientation Handbook: Tips, Tools, and Guidance for Physician Assistant
Preceptors, a valuable resource for clinical coordinators and preceptors.
For more information about PA education and PA educational programs, please contact
Michel Statler at [email protected]; (703) 548-5538, ext. 310. For more information
about the PA profession, including how to hire a PA, contact the American Academy of
Physician Assistants at [email protected]; (703) 836-2272.
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