Medical students in your office: Common myths addressed

Family doctors: UBC medical students are interested in visiting your clinic this spring! We are looking for preceptors across the entire province. Every medical student spends time in a family physician’s office as a mandatory part of their training, and giving these students an excellent experience can increase their interest in choosing family practice as a specialty.

We often hear family physicians report that they have an interest in teaching but don’t currently take learners for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common concerns (myths) expressed are listed below, along with some information to help bust those myths. 

Myth: I don’t have the time
Preceptors may take students for a variety of durations, ranging from 1 afternoon per week (for as little as 4 weeks). Longer blocks are available upon request.

Myth: My patients don’t want to see a learner
You might be surprised. We find that most patients understand the importance of training the next generation of doctors and are pleased to be able to contribute to medical education, especially if it is framed in this context!

Myth: My schedule is unpredictable
In many cases we can be flexible to send students when it fits your schedule best. We also have a list of alternate preceptors who can cover for you if you are on vacation and have to miss a week. Or, you can agree to take students for a single week to cover for someone else.

Myth: Students will slow me down
We can teach a variety of time-saving techniques that allow you to teach. For example, encouraging students to document their notes in the patient chart can reduce your charting time. As well, students do not have to be directly observed 100% of the time—we encourage allowing students to take histories and do physical examinations independently, while their preceptor is free to see other patients.

Myth: I already have a learner
Residents often report they wish they had more opportunities to teach, and students are eager to hear the advice that their more senior colleagues have to offer. This can also save you time. Pairing a junior learner with a senior learner can benefit everyone involved.

Myth: I’m not sure I have anything to teach
Junior learners are eager to practise any of the clinical skills and procedures they are taught during their medical curriculum, including administering injections and even taking blood pressures or removing sutures.

Myth: I don’t have space
We can help you coordinate your workflow to accommodate a learner. Let us know what you need. Also note that family physician teachers receive a financial stipend, Mainpro+ credits for teaching, as well as the many benefits that come with a UBC faculty appointment, including free access to medical journals through the UBC library.

With a wide variety of opportunities available throughout the province (including in rural areas) and involving all 4 years of medical trainees, we are sure to have an option that suits you well. If you are a family physician interested in taking a medical student into your office, or if you have questions and would like to speak with a physician faculty member, please contact

Visit for more teaching strategies and faculty tips and tricks.
—Maria Hubinette, MD
UBC Family Practice Undergraduate Director
—Sarah Brears, MD
—Lys Fonger, MD
—Emma Galloway, MD
—Simon Moore, MD
—Gerrard Prigmore, MBChB
UBC Clinical Experiences: Family Practice Site Directors

Maria Hubinette, MD, Sarah Brears, MD, Lys Fonger, MD, Emma Galloway, MD, Simon Moore, MD, CCFP, Gerrard Prigmore, MBChB. Medical students in your office: Common myths addressed. BCMJ, Vol. 59, No. 1, January, February, 2017, Page(s) 52-54 - News.

Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.

About the ICMJE and citation styles

The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.

An alternate version of ICMJE style is to additionally list the month an issue number, but since most journals use continuous pagination, the shorter form provides sufficient information to locate the reference. The NLM now lists all authors.

BCMJ standard citation style is a slight modification of the ICMJE/NLM style, as follows:

  • Only the first three authors are listed, followed by "et al."
  • There is no period after the journal name.
  • Page numbers are not abbreviated.

For more information on the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, visit

BCMJ Guidelines for Authors

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