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12-03-2018 | Original Article | Uitgave 2/2018 Open Access

Perspectives on Medical Education 2/2018

It’s all about relationships

A qualitative study of family physicians’ teaching experiences in rural longitudinal clerkships

Perspectives on Medical Education > Uitgave 2/2018
Cary Cuncic, Glenn Regehr, Heather Frost, Joanna Bates
Belangrijke opmerkingen
Previous presentations: preliminary data were presented as a poster at the Research in Medical Education (RIME) conference, November 2011, Denver, Colorado. This manuscript has not been previously published nor has it been submitted for consideration of publication in another journal.



The relationship between preceptor and trainee is becoming recognized as a critical component of teaching, in particular in the negotiation of feedback and in the formation of professional identity. This paper elaborates on the nature of the relationships between preceptor and student that evolve in the context of rural longitudinal integrated clerkships (LICs).


We drew on constructivist grounded theory for the research approach. We interviewed nine LIC family practice preceptors from three sites at one educational institution. We adapted the interview framework based on early findings. We analyzed the data through a constant comparative process. We then drew on concepts of relationship-based learning as sensitizing concepts in a secondary analysis.


We constructed three themes from the data. First, preceptors developed trusting professional and personal relationships with students over time. These relationships expanded to include friendship, advocacy, and ongoing contact beyond the clerkship year. Second, preceptors’ approach to teaching was anchored in the relationship with an understanding of the individual student. Third, preceptors set learning goals collaboratively with their students, based not only on program objectives, but also with the student as a future physician in mind.


Our findings suggest that rural family medicine preceptors developed engaged and trusting relationships with their students over time. These relationships imbued all activities of teaching and learning with an individual and personal focus. This orientation may be a key factor in supporting the learning outcomes demonstrated for students studying in rural LICs.
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