practice management

Advice for Precepting Pediatric Residents

Independent pediatricians are closely tied to their communities, and are invaluable assets for community health and for families to access other important services like financial assistance, nutrition, parenting, and success in school, play, and work. Keeping practices independent depends on welcoming new pediatricians and pediatric residents to the unique joys of practice life. In this post, learn how precepting a resident can help keep communities strong, enrich your culture, and even improve your business.

Coordinated Care with Residents: Key Benefits 

After completing the requisite years of medical school, pediatric residency is a three-year program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) where new doctors can begin their study of medicine in the field. Pediatricians can precept for residents by working through their local general or children’s hospital, or with nearby medical schools to help them complete their pediatric residency.

Resident Benefits

Working with an independent pediatrician can provide a resident with a unique view on pediatrics. Especially for those already set on the specialty, working with experienced pediatricians has some clear benefits. Residents will have:

  • The ability to experience pediatrics as a business
  • The opportunity to connect with smaller local communities
  • Experience what it’s like to practice medicine independently, outside of the hospital system
  • The opportunity to nurture professional relationships with experienced mentors

The value of concrete support during a doctor’s residency is immeasurable, but this 2021 study does indicate that a resident’s perception of positive support from their directors and colleagues directly impacts their success in ACGME’s Pediatric Milestone Competency scores. The short version? Residents with great mentors are empowered to practice great medicine, which can only help care teams and families.

Mentorship that Improves Your Pediatric Practice

The benefits don’t stop with residents. Experienced pediatricians, whether they’ve just begun their independent medicine practice or are a cornerstone of their community’s history, can find themselves challenged to grow their practice’s culture, workflows, and approach to patient care with addition of a resident’s ideas and questions.

According to Dr. Chris Peltier, MD FAAP and President-elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Ohio Chapter, precepting students is both empowering and invigorating to his practice of medicine.

“I owe my entire career to that one completely kismet moment of being assigned to Pediatric Associates at Mt. Carmel when I was a fourth-year medical student,” he says. “It sent me on the path that I’m on today because somebody opened up their office and said, ‘Come learn with me. I’m going to spend a month with you and teach you.’ That changed my entire life.” – Dr. Chris Peltier, MD FAAP

Build Workflow Efficiency

Students will naturally have questions – giving residents the permission and encouragement to share their ideas can lead to real changes in your practice. Sometimes a simple question leads to a convoluted answer and the idea hits you: “Wait, why does that workflow have 10 steps and 30 clicks? We can make that better!” Changes to the way you work can cut down on unnecessary time and mental burden and increase your team’s efficiency.

Given the opportunity, your resident could have bright ideas on taking notes on the go, building the patient schedule, and perhaps best of all, new ways to help kids feel better. A great way to go about improving workflows with residents is with a quality improvement project, which they are required to complete during their residency.

Engage with New Practices

The chance to discuss changes in medical school training can be valuable for everyone. How did you learn to enter notes into an EHR? Assess subtle family cues? Offer vaccines? Changes in technology and culture mean that residents can be a wealth of information on new practices, while pediatricians can offer the benefit of experience and strong patient relationships.

Hiring for Excellence

There are few experiences like residency to prepare a new physician for their career. Some physicians stay only for the duration of their study, while others discover that working with infants, toddlers, adolescents, or all children is their calling. This time can be useful for practice owners, too. Residency provides an always-appreciated extra set of hands, but a quality preceptorship could lead to a promising hiring opportunity down the road. In fact, this is exactly how Dr. Peltier began his career at Pediatric Associates of Mt. Carmel.

Working with a resident gives practiced pediatricians the chance to learn the resident’s values, work ethic, personality, and to get a good idea of their skills – all before a single job posting goes out. Whether you’re looking for a great candidate to expand your practice or you want to retire and pass on the practice to the next generation, signing up for a preceptorship could be a great place to start.

Dr. Chris Peltier, MD FAAP began his career as a pediatrician in residency at Pediatric Associates of Mt. Carmel, where he continues to practice.

Resources for Preceptors

While pediatricians interested in precepting can take guidance from the medical school program or hospital they coordinate with, there are plenty of resources from the AAP to help preceptors and residents get the most from the experience.

In this 2-module curriculum, residents can be guided through mental health training to treat mild-to-moderate anxiety. Preceptors can also help residents address common challenges of practicing medicine with the benefit of their experience, such as uncertainty about diagnoses

Should I precept?

Precepting a resident takes time and effort and is an act of service for future pediatricians and communities. Before deciding whether precepting is – or isn’t – for you, it’s a good idea to consider your practice’s values. If mentorship matters to you but your workloads are too heavy during the spring or fall, summer or winter could be a better time to take on precepting.

Is your community diverse? Do you work with a high-Medicaid population? Do you love working with toddlers? These are the values that help form your practice’s culture and identity. A clear idea of your practice’s values can help attract students to your practice and will narrow down the pool of interested candidates to those who could truly succeed during their time with you. 

Want to learn more about the value of mentoring residents? In PCC’s publication The Independent Pediatrician, learn how Dr. Peltier began a successful career that began with residency at an independent pediatric practice, and which has culminated (so far) in his presidency of the Ohio AAP Chapter.

Allie Squires

Allie Squires is PCC's Marketing Content Writer and editor of The Independent Pediatrician. She holds a master's in Professional Writing from NYU.