Purpose: To investigate whether the gender of a student or preceptor affects the students' level of experience with clinical skills in a preceptorship.
Method: A total of 451 third-year medical students completed a required family medicine preceptorship during three academic years (1997–2000) at one medical school. Students recorded their highest levels of experience with 57 clinical skills at the completion of the preceptorship using a five-point scale. Mean levels of experience were compared according to student and preceptor gender and by student—preceptor gender dyads.
Results: For the majority of clinical skills, levels of experience did not differ according to gender of the student or preceptor. However, women students received more experience with seven of 12 female-specific skills and men students received more experience with two of three male-specific skills. Women preceptors provided more experience with seven of 12 female-specific skills, as well as with depression and anxiety; men preceptors provided more experience with procedures. For the vast majority of gender-specific skills, the highest levels of student experience were received by pairs of students and preceptors of the same gender who were seeing patients of their same gender; the lowest levels of experience occurred in student—preceptor pairs of the same gender seeing patients of the opposite gender. There was no evidence for student—preceptor interactions.
Conclusions: The gender of a student and that of the preceptor affect the level of experience the student receives with a number of gender-specific skills and procedures. Ways should be found to minimize these differences in training.