Original Research

The role, the risk, and the reciprocity: creating positive early rural placements in medical education


name here
Brenton LG Button
1 PhD, Assistant Professor *

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Hafsa Bohonis
2,3 MSc

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Brian M Ross
2,3,4 PhD, Professor

name here
Frances Kilbertus
2,3 MD, Associate Professor

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Kirstie Taylor
2,3 MA

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Erin Cameron
2,3,4 PhD, Associate Professor


1 Faculty of Education, University of Winnipeg, 515 Portage Ave, Winnipeg, MB R3B 2E9, Canada

2 Northern Ontario School of Medicine University in Sudbury, 935 Ramsey Lake Rd, Sudbury, ON P3E 2C6, Canada

3 Northern Ontario School of Medicine University in Thunder Bay, 955 Oliver Rd, Thunder Bay, ON P7B 5E1, Canada

4 Faculty of Education, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, 955 Oliver Rd, Thunder Bay, ON P7B 5E1, Canada

ACCEPTED: 2 February 2024

early abstract:

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