The Teaching Roles of a Preceptor

It's easy to get stuck in a "to teach is to tell" mode, where you spend all your time with learners explaining medical concepts. There are many other ways, besides "telling," to help your learners develop into highly skilled physicians. 

Consider These Methods in Addition to "To Teach Is To Tell"

  • To teach is to question. Ask your learners questions to get them to think in new directions, uncover assumptions, and explore complex concepts.
  • To teach is to listen. If you take time to listen, your learners will often tell you what they don't understand and what to know. 
  • To teach is to guide. You can guide your learners in their learning, in development and examination of their own ideas, and in their personal and professional development.1
  • To teach is to coach. Observe your learners' performance, 
    break it down, then make suggestions for improvement.1
  • To teach is to model. Be a good role model for patient-centered care. Also, consider demonstrating techniques instead of or in addition to explaining them.

  1. Bynny R. Mentoring and coaching in medicine. The Pharos. 2012:1-3. Available at: Accessed March 15, 2016.