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JAMA 100 Years Ago
December 17, 2008

THE PASSING OF THE PRECEPTOR.

JAMA. 2008;300(23):2806. doi:10.1001/jama.2008.800

With the advance of medical education, with the constantly increasing requirements for admission to the medical school, and with the lengthening and elaboration of the course of study necessitated by the enlargement of the field of medical knowledge, there has almost disappeared from view an erstwhile important factor in medical education—the preceptor. Formerly, before going to college, the student spent a year or more studying with his preceptor, going about with him, seeing his patients, and learning not only how to diagnose and treat disease, but, above all, how to conduct himself in his relation to his patients. His vacations were spent in the same manner, and thus from the beginning he was taught to meet his patients on a plane of personal relationship rather than to regard them merely as scientific problems. The graduate of to-day is often wofully [sic] lacking in the personal side of the physician's art, and it may take years of sad experience to teach him what his father unconsciously absorbed while learning the sutures of the skull. Interneship [sic] in a hospital can only partially replace this lost opportunity, for, while the young physician observes there the attitude of his chiefs toward the patients, the circumstances are quite different from those of general practice, as he must learn when he first “hangs out his shingle” and undertakes to meet the patient in his own home.

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