Background: The Northern Ontario School of Medicine University seeks to address rural physician shortages in Northern Ontario. One key strategy the school employs is the use of experiential learning placements embedded throughout its undergraduate curriculum. In second year, students embark on two 4-week placements in rural and remote communities. This study sought to explore the factors which contribute to a positive learning experience from the preceptor’s perspective.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with five community preceptors who have participated in these placements. Using the information from these interviews a survey was created and sent to another 15 preceptors. Data were analyzed using qualitative methods and frequencies.
Results: Three key themes were identified from both the interviews and survey data: 1) the role of early rural and remote placements, 2) the risks of these placements and 3) the need for a reciprocal relationship between institutions, preceptors, and students to create a positive learning environment.
Conclusion: Preceptors value the opportunity to teach students, but the aims of these placements are not clear and preceptors and local hospitals need more workforce resources to make these experiences positive.
Keywords: medical education, medical training,placement, preceptor, rural, workforce