Purpose. To better understand how U.S. medical schools are using and compensating community preceptors. Method. In 1995, the authors sent questionnaires to associate deans for education at all 125 U.S. medical schools. Each questionnaire asked whether that school used community preceptors to teach students and, if so, from what disciplines community preceptors came, at what sites community preceptors taught students, how community preceptors were compensated, and how these factors varied for each year of medical school. Results. One hundred schools (80%) completed the questionnaire. Ninety-six reported using community preceptors. Primary care physicians were used most often, and private practices were the dominant teaching location. A clinical academic appointment was the most common compensation. Few schools compensated community preceptors monetarily. Community preceptors' involvement was substantial in all four years, but greatest in year three. Conclusion. Community preceptors are widely used in educating medical students, especially in year three. More recognition and better compensation of these important educators is necessary.
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