On-line Preceptor/Preceptee Education

Preparing Partners of Learning in the Field

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Supporting preceptors with respect to cultivating the art of preceptorship has long been recognized as essential in professional health care disciplines (Godden, Bossers, Corcoran, Ling, & Morgan, 1992). Indeed over the years since the original study by Godden et al. 1992, the value of preceptorship education continues to be recognized by Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Speech and Language Pathology and Nursing. Formalizing the base content of preceptor education and finding a flexible and innovative model to its delivery continues to be a challenge in Ontario for health care disciplines. However, models exist in other locations that have similar needs for preceptor support and education (APTA, 2005; FIPSE, 1998, Marriott, Taylor, Simpson, Bull, Galbraith, Howarth, Leversha, Best, & Rose, 2005) and other disciplines such as medicine and pharmacy (FIPSE Project Group, 1998; University of Alberta Pharmacy 2006-2007).

For academic programs such as the University of Western Ontario, preceptors are based in health care settings across a wide geographical area including rural and urban locations such as Windsor, Chatham, Sarnia, Owen Sound, Orillia. Penetanguishene, Kitchener-Waterloo, Stratford, Wingham, etc. This renders traditional educational methods such as University or College based clinical workshops insufficient as a sole method to reach all stakeholders. Indeed due to distance, competing time demands, pressure on health care professionals (Spencer, 2003), the need for creative and flexible ways to prepare preceptors and preceptees cannot be ignored. Academic programs rely on effective preceptors to engage with preceptees and to prepare them as future health care practitioners. Literature supports that preceptees as more apt to enter a practice or geographical area in which they have had the opportunity to gain experience (Crowe & Mackenzie, 2002; Playford & Wheatland, 2006). Preceptors however require adequate preparation prior to engaging in the art of preceptorship (Yonge & Myrick, 2004). Preceptors who effectively convey the art and science of their practice through thoughtful engagement with their preceptee can have a tremendous impact on the future professional.

Health care professionals in disciplines such as nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech language pathology and audiology have each identified the need for additional preceptor/preceptee education and training to improve the quality/consistency of clinical placements, improve the communication skills specific to the adult learner and to reduce stress/anxiety frequently related to the preceptor/preceptee relationship. Preceptors provide preceptorship opportunities out of a duty to their chosen profession and a commitment to the continued training of new clinicians within their field. Until now, these dedicated preceptors have been provided with limited education in the area of effective preceptorship. At present there is written documentation, typically provided by academic programs, periodic workshops again offered through the academic environments as well as guidelines developed by individual clinical settings which vary in content and consistency from site to site. In today’s busy health care environment, preceptors have expressed a need for a more timely, self-directed and flexible preceptor education model. Preceptees have also indicated a need for more consistency in the clinical education environments in which they receive training. An accessible, preceptor/preceptee web-based education program, presented in a theme-base modular format would assist in meeting some of the preceptor/preceptee educational needs listed above in a flexible, timely, self-directed learning format. The development of this type of on-line education/training program would have many advantages. Preceptors situated in rural areas, who typically work in more isolated environments within Ontario, would be able to access the same on-line resources available to preceptors in more urban areas. Given the modular structure of this proposal, topics useful to both senior and novice preceptors can be included. This type of training program should improve recruitment of clinicians willing to take on the preceptorship role. The education within the modules will provide clinicians concrete skills related to preceptorship, improve their confidence to be an effective preceptor and reduce the stress and anxiety frequently associated within the preceptor/preceptee relationship. These web-based modules will allow both the preceptor and the preceptee to have access to the same educational materials and review them together if they so wish. This will provide a means for the preceptor or the preceptee to initiate communication around a module theme. The accessible, on-line modules would significantly enhance and augment existing written manuals and resources currently available for clinical placements as well as the once per year workshops that are being offered by various academic programs across Ontario. These methods are useful but frequently time consuming for the busy clinician to access. In busy environments within health care, preceptors have identified a need for a new flexible, timely and cost effective way to support self-directed learning in the area of preceptorship. As well, the modular format would allow additional modules to be added in the future, with the possibility of some out-of date modules being removed. The web-based format also allows timely and efficient up dating of module content.
General Goals.

1. The development of higher quality clinical experience for preceptees.
2. Increasing the number of health care preceptors willing to provide high quality, on-going, preceptorship opportunities.

Steps Identified within the project:

1. Investigating existing resources for the education and training of preceptors and preceptees within the health care clinical education environment and gathering key stakeholders to examine additional needs within Ontario.
2. Utilizing expertise and educational training resources already present in other formats. This would include a process of gathering together stakeholders who are already involved in more traditional forms of education, including preceptees, preceptors and university and college academics, as an important and efficient cost savings step. Including preceptees and preceptors in the development of an effective and useful tool for the user target group.
3. Developing the on-line self-directed learning modules to provide preceptors/preceptees with easily accessible and timely education related to clinical placement supervision or preceptees. The goals of this on-line training package would be to support clinical preceptors in their role of educator, to improve the quality and consistency of the clinical placement-learning environment and to provide a clinical educational tool that both preceptor and preceptee can access together to assist in developing an effective clinical learning partnership. This proposal meets the needs for practical support for preceptors and preceptees during clinical placements through on-line education in areas common to most disciplines in health care. Potential topics for module development include: the orientation process, setting learning goals and objectives, establishing learning contracts, managing the marginal student, providing effective feedback/effective utilization of preceptor feedback, and inspiring the clinical adult learner. The material would be available for all disciplines in a consistent way, regardless of location within Ontario, years of experience as a preceptor or practice area. It would allow timely and flexible access for both the preceptor and the preceptee prior to and during the clinical experience.
4. Place educational modules on a web based location with the assistance of the UWO ITS department’s Web CT consultant.
5. Trial of educational modules with practicing clinicians in the Southwestern Ontario region. The preceptors involved will be connected with a facility already providing preceptorships for UWO or Fanshawe College. Similarly, the preceptees will be students of UWO or Fanshawe College who have participated in a clinical placement in a preceptee role. Revision of the modules will be based on the feedback from this trial from preceptors and preceptees as well as the web consultant.
6. Sharing of the developed on-line clinical preceptor/preceptee training program by welcoming preceptors/preceptees in healthcare from across the province to take part in the web-based program.

Summary: Through an on-line preceptor/preceptee education program, delivered in a modular format based on topic, practical support is provided to preceptors and preceptees in the health care areas of occupational therapy, physiotherapy, nursing, speech language pathology and audiology. These groups and others have all identified the need for a more consistent, timely, self-directed and flexible preceptor/preceptee educational training tool which can most effectively be delivered through an on-line educational program accessible by topic modules










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