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Do we pay our community preceptors? Results from a CERA clerkship directors' survey.


Background and objectives

Family medicine clerkships depend heavily on community-based family physician preceptors to teach medical students. These preceptors have traditionally been unpaid, but in recent years some clerkships have started to pay preceptors. This study determines trends in the number and geographic region of programs that pay their community preceptors, identifies reasons programs pay or do not pay, and investigates perceived advantages and disadvantages of payment.


We conducted a cross-sectional, electronic survey of 134 family medicine clerkship directors at allopathic US medical schools.


The response rate was 62% (83/132 clerkship directors). Nineteen of these (23%) currently pay community preceptors, 11 of whom are located in either New England or the South Atlantic region. Sixty-three percent of programs who pay report that their community preceptors are also paid for teaching other learners, compared to 32% of those programs who do not pay. Paying respondents displayed more positive attitudes toward paying community preceptors, though a majority of non-paying respondents indicated they would pay if they had the financial resources.


The majority of clerkships do not pay their community preceptors to teach medical students, but competition from other learners may drive more medical schools to consider payment to help with preceptor recruitment and retention. Medical schools located in regions where there is competition for community preceptors from other medical and non-medical schools may need to consider paying preceptors as part of recruitment and retention efforts.

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