OBJECTIVE: Medical educators have attempted in recent years to provide quality clinical experiences for medical students early in their medical training. We questioned whether participating in a preceptorship in internal medicine (PIM) resulted in better performances on subsequent clinical rotations and increased interest in internal medicine.
PARTICIPANTS: Fifty-four students have participated in the PIM to date, with control groups consisting of students who applied for it but were not selected (n=36), students participating in a preceptorship in family medicine (n=168), and the remaining students (n=330).
DESIGN: Prospective cohort study.
SETTING: University medical center and community practices.
INTERVENTION: A 2-month, clinical preceptorship following the first year of medical school.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: The following outcomes were assessed: scores in the introduction to clinical medicine course; grades in the medical ethics course; scores from the internal medicine clerkship; and choosing a career in internal medicine. In their second year, PIM students scored higher in both semesters of the introduction to clinical medicine course (87% and 86% vs 84% and 84%, p’s<.01) and were more likely to receive honors in ethics (50% vs 29%, p<.01) than non-PIM students. During the internal medicine clerkship, PIM students’ scores were significantly higher on an objective structured clinical examination (79% vs 76%, p=.05), ambulatory clinical evaluations (80% vs 76%, p<.01), and overall clerkship scores (78% vs 75%, p=.03) but not on inpatient clinical evaluations or on the National Board of Medical Examiners Subject Examination. Preceptorship students were more likely to receive honors grades in the medicine clerkship (33% vs 10%, p<.01), and they were more likely to match into internal medicine residencies than control students (54% vs 27%, p<.01).
CONCLUSIONS: The PIM course is an intervention, early in students’ careers, which appears to benefit them academically and increase their interest in internal medicine as a career.