Dear Members of the Medical School Community,
I would like to devote this message to thanking the preceptors who are the pillars of the school's community-based programs. Without the dedication of our clinical faculty members, the medical school would not be able to expose students to a wide variety of populations, places and practice types. Rarely do medical schools offer students the chance to train in so many different settings -- the Alaska Bush, urban Native American clinics, small rural hospitals, military bases, towns isolated by geography, and neighborhood centers -- to name just a few.
Since the medical school began more than 50 years ago, local health-care providers in the Puget Sound region have served as preceptors for medical students and residents. Each WWAMI university site also has a history of involvement by nearby health professionals in the training of students; and with almost every passing quarter, new WWAMI sites join those that have been participating in our regional medical education program for longer than 25 years. This month the Rural/Underserved Opportunities Program has reached its 10th year of placing medical students one-on-one with physicians in small-towns and inner cities.
Clinical faculty continue to participate in these important community-based programs despite pressures to run their practices with greater efficiency. Teaching is not "efficient" in a purely business sense. It takes time and patience to instruct students and to answer the questions that will help them become excellent physicians.
Why would physicians take on another job as educators? Dr. Tom Norris from our medical school, Dr. Byron Crouse of the University of Minnesota and Dr. Thomas Wolff of the State University of New York addressed this question in their article in American Family Physician, October 1996. They noted that perhaps the most significant reason for becoming and remaining a preceptor was increased professional satisfaction.
Teaching and medicine are both demanding professions. UW medical students receive an excellent education in community medicine because of dedicated community faculty who choose to do both. On behalf of our medical school, I would like to express our deep appreciation for the vital contribution that clinical faculty make to our teaching programs.
Paul Ramsey, M.D.
Vice President for Medical Affairs
And Dean of the School of Medicine