Purpose: To measure satisfaction and motivation of community-based preceptors, and to examine differences between degree groups of physicians, pharmacists, advanced-practice nurses (nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives), and physician assistants.
Method: In spring 2005, the authors mailed a four-page, 24-item survey to all 2,061 community-based primary care preceptors served by the North Carolina Area Health Education Centers system. The survey measured preceptor satisfaction, likelihood of continuing as a preceptor, influence of having students, motivation for teaching, satisfaction in professional practice, satisfaction with incentives, and value of incentives.
Results: Response rate was 69.3%, or 1,428 preceptors. Most preceptors (93.0%) reported high satisfaction with their precepting experience, and 90.9% indicated high likelihood of continuing to precept for the next five years. Almost all preceptors (93.7%) reported they were satisfied with their professional life. Many community preceptors (57.2%) were satisfied with incentives. They placed greater value on the intrinsic reasons for precepting (i.e., enjoyment of teaching) rather than extrinsic rewards (such as no-cost online library resources). Degree groups placed differing values on intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Physicians reported more negativity about the influence of students and regarding aspects of their professional lives.
Conclusions: Tailoring support to better meet individual degree groups' preferences can maximize resources and may encourage preceptor retention. Special attention to physicians' needs may be warranted to avoid decreased preceptor numbers in this at-risk group. Future studies are needed to determine whether these findings are unique to North Carolina, which has a strong infrastructure to support preceptors.