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The Department of Allied Health Sciences (DAHS) hosted its largest-ever Clinical Preceptor Appreciation Event at the George Watts Hill Alumni Center on May 22, featuring keynote and breakout sessions addressed to health care professionals who facilitate student education.

Brenda Mitchell, the associate chair of the DAHS Office of Student Services, enthusiastically thanked everyone for their valuable contribution to educate DAHS students. She said it was a special honor to host this event for the record number of 172 preceptors and faculty in attendance.

Stephen Hooper, the DAHS associate dean and chair, said preceptor sites have grown in both size and number over the past year, facilitating education of the next generation of health care leaders. Preceptors attended from various parts of the state and represented hospitals, clinics, laboratories, schools and other specialty centers.

“Thank you for paying it forward,” Hooper said. “You’re doing that simply by having our students come into your workplace.”

Eric Zwemer, an assistant professor of pediatrics at UNC Children’s Hospital, addressed attendees with a presentation titled “Practice what you teach: Key techniques of effective educators.” During the session, Zwemer spoke about the qualities of good teachers. He shared the importance of setting expectations, utilizing a one-minute preceptor method for asking effective questions and understanding the “ask-tell-ask” approach to provide feedback for students. At the end of the presentation, attendees set two educational goals for themselves. This interactive presentation sparked productive conversations and ideas for all attendees to bring back to their clinical sites.

“It’s important that our learners feel like we’re excited to be in our jobs,” Zwemer said. “We need to set an example for them.”

After the keynote address, each division separated into small groups to discuss topics pertinent to their area of health care.

Brenda Mitchell, PhD, CCC-SLP, is an associate professor in the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences and oversees Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) on behalf of the DAHS. Stephen Hooper, PhD, has served as chair and associate dean since 2013. Eric Zwemer, MD, is also chair of the programming committee for the UNC School of Medicine Academy of Educators.