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The North Carolina Community Preceptor Experience

Third Study of Trends Over Twelve Years

Latessa, Robyn, MD; Keen, Susan, MD; Byerley, Julie, MD; Foley, Kathleen A., PhD; Payne, Lauren E.; Conner, Kirstie T.; Tarantino, Heather, MD; Peyser, Bruce, MD; Steiner, Beat D., MD, MPH

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000002571
Research Report: PDF Only

Purpose: To measure community-based preceptors’ overall satisfaction and motivations, the influence of students on preceptors’ practices, and compare with 2005 and 2011 studies.

Method: North Carolina primary care preceptors across disciplines (physicians, pharmacists, advanced practice nurses, physician assistants) received survey invitations via email, fax, post-card, and/or full paper survey. Most questions in 2017 were the same as questions used in prior years, including satisfaction with precepting, likelihood to continue precepting, perceived influence of teaching students in their practice, and incentives for precepting. A brief survey or phone interview was conducted with 62 nonresponders. Chi-square tests were used to examine differences across discipline groups and to compare group responses over time.

Results: Of the 2,786 preceptors contacted, 893 (32.1%) completed questionnaires. Satisfaction (816/890, 91.7%) and likelihood of continuing to precept (778/890, 87.4%) remained unchanged from 2005 and 2011. However, more preceptors reported a negative influence for patient flow (422/888, 47.5%) in 2017 than in 2011 (452/1,266, 35.7%) and 2005 (496/1,379, 36.0%) (P < .0001), and work hours (392/889, 44.1%) in 2017, than in 2011 (416/1,268, 32.8%) and 2005 (463/1,392, 33.3%) (P < .0001). Importance of receiving payment for teaching increased from 32.2% (371/1,152) in 2011 to 46.4% (366/789) in 2017 (P < .0001).

Conclusions: This 2017 survey suggests preceptor satisfaction and likelihood to continue precepting have remained unchanged from prior years. However, increased reporting of negative influence of students on practice and growing value of receiving payment highlight growing concerns about preceptors’ time and finances and present a call to action.

R. Latessa is professor of family medicine, University of North Carolina (UNC) Health Sciences at Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC), and director and assistant dean, UNC School of Medicine Asheville campus, Asheville, North Carolina; ORCID:

S. Keen is clinical associate professor and director, Department of Family Medicine Medical Student Education Division, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina.

J. Byerley is professor of pediatrics and vice dean for education, UNC School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North Carolina; ORCID:

K.A. Foley is director, Division of Research, UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC, Asheville, North Carolina, and adjunct professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, Chapel Hill, North Carolina; ORCID:

L.E. Payne is research project associate, Division of Research, UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC, Asheville, North Carolina; ORCID:

K.T. Conner is director, Office of Regional Primary Care Education (ORPCE), and director, Western University Expansion Programs, UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC, Asheville, North Carolina.

H. Tarantino is director and associate professor, Department of Internal Medicine, and assistant dean, UNC School of Medicine Charlotte campus, Charlotte, North Carolina; ORCID:

B. Peyser is co-director, Primary Care Leadership Track, and professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina.

B.D. Steiner is professor of family medicine and assistant dean for clinical education, UNC School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Supplemental digital content for this article is available at

Acknowledgments: The authors wish to thank Gaye Colvin for assistance with 2005 and 2011 survey data and in developing the 2017 survey. They would also like to thank each of the nine Regional Office of Regional Primary Care Education personnel for providing contact lists of preceptors and for their assistance in outreach during the data collection process.

Funding/Support: This research was conducted with funding from the North Carolina Area Health Education Center Program Office.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: The institutional review board of Mission Health in Asheville, North Carolina, approved the study in December 2016.

Correspondence should be addressed to Robyn Latessa, UNC School of Medicine – Asheville, 121 Hendersonville Rd., Asheville, NC 28801; telephone: (828) 771-3429; email:

© 2019 by the Association of American Medical Colleges