Characteristics of an Effective Preceptor: Dietetics Education as a Paradigm
J Allied Health
PURPOSE: To examine the characteristics of effective preceptors, using the perceptions of students who are enrolled in a Dietetic Internship (DI), and to evaluate the influence of the following factors on preceptor behavior: a preceptors' area of practice, credentials, and type of DI program where the student is enrolled. METHODS: Three hundred fifty-one students from 129 randomly selected DI programs completed an online survey to evaluate their preceptors, using a 40-item Preceptor Behavior Scale that included four categories: knowledge and professional competence, interpersonal skills, personality characteristics, and teaching ability. RESULTS: The students ranked knowledge and professional competence as the most important category for effective preceptors. Teaching ability had the largest difference in mean scores between an effective and ineffective preceptor. Preceptors who were considered more effective included: a) preceptors in clinical and "other" practice areas such as community and private practice vs those in food service; b) preceptors who were registered dietitians (RD) vs non-RD; and c) preceptors in hospital-based DI programs vs university-based DI programs. CONCLUSIONS: Preceptor training should emphasize skills in all of the categories from the Preceptor Behavior Scale so that preceptors can effectively help students meet the competencies required for entry-level practice. A web-based preceptor training module that can reach offsite preceptors should be developed that includes scenarios for all areas of practice, teaching skills based on the principles of adult learning, and a credential and/or a professional incentive.
School of Medicine
Occupational Medicine, Epidemiology and Prevention; Family Medicine
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