Usually I am the Preceptor/Teacher in clinical settings, supervising a medical student or resident in their interactions with a patient. I have the challenging and rewarding task of making sure that the patient is well cared for and that the learner’s needs are also met. I am still working on the art of gently guiding learners while preserving their relationships with their patients.
Recently I had the relatively new experience of being the patient in a patient-student-preceptor triad. At my OB appointment, a medical student was practicing how to check fetal dopplers and fundal height, supervised by the nurse-practitioner. Overall, he was doing it correctly but I could tell that he would benefit from some direction on positioning. I did not tell the student that I was a doctor, since I thought it might make him nervous, and I did not want to correct him myself, in case that would undermine his actual supervisor. So, I kept quiet and observed.
The NP did an excellent job of showing him how to improve his technique, not only explaining what to do but why, and sharing expertise in a constructive way. I am sure that this student has had plenty of experiences in his training when he was either ignored or completely crushed by criticism. It was great to see him get some good teaching. I was glad to provide him with a learning opportunity and also to learn something myself from a role model in precepting.