Working With Preceptor

Suggestions for working with your preceptor

When you first meet with your preceptor, it is important to establish several things:



  • General information about how the clinic is set up.
  • What time clinic starts and when you should arrive.
  • How do you know when a patient is ready for you to see?
  • Where should you document your note?  How detailed should it be?


Degree of independence:

  • Will you be seeing and examining the patient entirely on your own and then presenting to the preceptor?  Sometimes the attending will ask you to collect the history and then conduct the examination together.  With most of your preceptors, your degree of independence will evolve over the course of the year, as you develop more expertise


Organization of a patient’s visit.

  • How detailed should the physical examination be?
  • How much of the exam do they want to do together?
  • How much time is allotted for you to take the history, conduct the exam, and present the case?
  • How are test results communicated to the patient? How should you follow-up on test results?


In the outpatient setting, timing and efficiency are especially important.  Because patients are scheduled for specific times, there is less flexible time than in the inpatient setting.  Students should be sensitive to their preceptors’ efficiency and time demands.