How to Decide Where to Precept
You have a lot of decisions to make as a preceptor: which patients will your learner see? What do you wish to teach your learner today? How will you present the information you wish to teach your learner? Just as important is where you decide to precept: will you precept in the presence of the patient, or will you do it privately?
Some things to think about: precepting in private will allow a learner to speculate freely regarding a patient’s presentation, while avoiding much of the awkwardness that may arise between the learner and the patient. However, precepting in the presence of the patient will help the learner shed the awkwardness of the early learner. Consider, too, that precepting in the hallway or in an office often occurs after the patient has been seen, while teaching in the patient’s presence can sometimes elicit more information from the patient as you discuss their case out loud with your learner. Regardless of the perceived advantages of precepting in private versus in the presence of the patient, always select the option that best meets the needs of the patient and the learner.
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