Development of a preceptor characteristics inventory for respiratory therapists
Colquitt, James Dale
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Medical education has traditionally employed a form of apprenticeship when training new clinicians to work in the hospital environment. In this format a more experienced clinician takes on the title of preceptor and serves as both an educator and guide for the fledgling clinician. Although the behavioral characteristics desired in a clinical preceptor are well documented, empirical research has repeatedly shown that the selection process of preceptors is based on clinical skills with little or no regard to the candidate’s teaching abilities or behavioral characteristics. Therefore the intent of this instrument development research project was to improve selection of individuals utilized to teach students and new therapists at the bedside. Self-efficacy items were developed targeting each desired preceptor behavior identified in the literature and revised by a focus group of respiratory therapy educators and preceptors. The resulting instrument was administered to a convenience sample of therapists and the results analyzed for patterns. Exploratory factorial analysis confirmed the findings in the literature suggesting only five domains make up the behaviors desired in a clinical preceptor: organizational behaviors, interpersonal behaviors, teaching behaviors, personal professionalism, and social professionalism. Based on these findings, preceptor selection should revolve around the five behavioral areas identified in this study and development programs should focus on strengthening weaknesses in these areas. Also, future research should include correlating the behaviors to the quality of preceptors in practice.