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Original Research

Medical students' assessments of skill development in rural primary care clinics

Submitted: 2 July 2006
Revised: 24 October 2006
Published: 3 November 2006

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Author(s) : Hunsaker ML, Glasser ML, Nielsen KM, Lipsky MS.

Citation: Hunsaker ML, Glasser ML, Nielsen KM, Lipsky MS.  Medical students' assessments of skill development in rural primary care clinics. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2006; 6: 616. Available: (Accessed 20 October 2017)


Introduction: This study assessed the impact of a rural primary care preceptorship on medical students’ self-perceived ability to provide acute, chronic, and preventive care, to perform procedures, to communicate with patients, and to understand the community and healthcare system.
Methods: Students were surveyed about their self-assessed skills on 11 major components (97 items) immediately before and after a 16 week preceptorship in a rural primary care clinic. Responses were analyzed for 96 medical students using a paired comparisons t-test and univariate statistics.
Results: Students’ skills significantly increased on all components and items. The skills most highly assessed post-preceptorship were those skills related to the management of chronic problems, the provision of patient education and health maintenance, and the ability to handle undifferentiated and acute problems. Among the 11 components assessed, students ranked their skills in performing procedures the lowest. The largest cumulative gain in skills was in the areas of understanding health systems and the community.
Conclusions: This study provides a unique opportunity to look at skill development before and after a rural clerkship. From the student’s perspective, the 16 week preceptorship appears to be of significant educational benefit. Future studies need to examine other measures of performance and outcomes of training in rural primary care settings.

Key words: curriculum, medical education, preceptorship, primary care, skills.

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