Skip to main content

Which Clinical Performance Characteristics Do Preceptors Value?

1 August 2007


Background: Meaningful evaluation is imperative to identify areas of strength and weakness as a student progresses through their training. What does it take to become a competent medical professional? Clinical competence in medically based training includes cognitive, psychomotor and behavioral components such as 'fund of knowledge' , basic procedural skills and professional character. We wondered whether the clinical evaluation form used at Pacific University accurately reflected the various characteristics our clinical preceptors valued when providing feedback as to the student's progression with their training. Preceptors were polled to investigate what components are of importance to them when they are evaluating students.

Hypothesis: Are Physician Assistant programs comprehensively reflecting all of the necessary components necessary to adequately evaluate a student clinically. Also, does this evaluation include professional aspects of medicine?

Study Design: Pilot

Study Methods: This study evaluated clinical year preceptor evaluation forms. We solicited PA programs from across the US. We compared the various characteristics evaluated on each of the forms to the other programs. Using these tabulated characteristics we developed a survey that was sent to clinical preceptors of Pacific University School of Physician Assistant Studies.

Results: 60 medical professionals participated. None of the clinical evaluation forms were considered to have completely evaluated all of the necessary characteristics identified by our clinical preceptors. Figure 1. is a pie graph depicting the title of the health care professional participating in the survey. The majority of participants were MDs, 56% followed by Physician Assistants, 37%. Table 1 and 2 asked whether or not skills in patient management were necessary to evaluate during their clinical training. Such patient management skills included was history taking and physical exam skills. Other questions included patient education, technical skills (i.e. suturing, biopsies, casting/splinting) and fund of knowledge. The results of the survey revealed the majority of preceptors felt it was critical to evaluate clinical judgment and reasoning, physical exam skills, and history taking skills. These skills were rated critical to evaluate in over 40 of the respondents.

Conclusion: Our results demonstrate that history taking and physical exam skills are important, however, the aspects of integrity and ethics remain critical. These aspects are key parts of the definition of professionalism. While other parts of the evaluation form are necessary, we found it of significance to evaluate professionalism with other parts of the clinical year training criteria.


Files are restricted to Pacific University. Sign in to view.