Preceptor Program Frequently Asked Questions


Q: Who can precept physician assistant (PA) students?

A: Any MD, DO, PA, NP or midwife who is Board Certified in their specialty area is qualified to precept PA students.

Q: What clinical experience are you seeking?

A: All second year PA students are required to participate in the following clinical rotations: Family Practice, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Emergency Medicine and Surgery. At some time during the clinical year, students must have exposure to patients in long term care. We have an additional primary care and specialty elective for our students.

Q: What can I expect a second year PA student to know and do?

A: Second year PA students should be able to perform comprehensive and focused histories and physical examinations. Their clinical reasoning skills should be refined to the point of developing a list of differential diagnoses and next steps in the diagnosis and treatment of common medical conditions. They have had some practice with patient counseling and education as well as common medical procedures such as phlebotomy, splinting and wound care. Experience and ability will vary from student to student, as they tend to come from diverse backgrounds.

Q: How much time is required?

A: Rotations vary from four to five weeks in length. Students are expected to engage in hands-on patient care experiences at a minimum of 32 hours per week. Students should follow the schedule of the preceptor, including evenings, weekends and holidays.

Q: What are required experiences for the student?

A: PA students must have the opportunity for clinical training. The intensity of the supervision will vary depending on the student’s experience and the preceptor’s comfort. It is typical for a preceptor to start by having the student observing patient encounters. After a day or two of orientation to the practice, it is reasonable to transition to observing the student performing history and physical examinations. Once you are comfortable with the student’s skills, allowing him/her to perform histories and exams without direct observation is perfectly appropriate. The student would then present the patient to the preceptor, discuss possible next steps and complete the patient encounter with the preceptor reviewing and confirming the student’s findings with the patient. Periodic direct observation throughout the rotation is recommended and a student should never discharge a patient without discussing the case with the preceptor first.

Clinical procedures practice opportunities are also critical – phlebotomy, starting IVs, wound care, splinting and Pap smears are some of the basic skills taught during the first year which should be reinforced through practice in clinical rotations. Students in a surgical setting need to be involved in pre-and postoperative management of patients, as well as observation and, as appropriate, students should have the opportunity to assist in surgical procedures.

Q: What is required of me as a preceptor?

A: In addition to supervising the student as described above, we ask our clinical partners to provide the students with regular feedback regarding their clinical skills. This includes daily, informal discussions and critical feedback to the student, as well as a mid-rotation meeting to assess progress and a written final evaluation.

Q: Am I responsible for the student during the entire rotation or can he/she spend time with others in the practice?

A: Students are allowed to spend time with other qualified practitioners within the practice. All preceptors must be identified to the program and complete a preceptor profile. It is typical for some groups to identify a primary preceptor who will be responsible for coordinating the student’s experience. The student can then spend time with several practitioners within the group over the course of the rotation.

Q: Are the student and institution covered in the event of a malpractice issue?

A: Yes, Franklin Pierce University carries institutional insurance and all students in the Franklin Pierce PA program are covered by a $1 million/$3 million malpractice binder. This binder will be included in the packet you will receive in advance of the rotation.