The purpose of this study was to explore the utility of a simulated student for research in clinical precepting. A second-year medical student was trained to simulate a case presentation in a pediatric emergency department. The simulation was tested on seven third-year postgraduate pediatric residents. All encounters were videotaped; precepting interactions were transcribed. The simulation was found to be realistic and to provide a unique perspective on the precepting process. It permitted examination of several assumptions about precepting, including precepting as a means for demonstrating clinical reasoning and precepting as an opportunity for encouraging problem solving. Along with its use as a tool for faculty development, the simulated-student technique is a useful instrument for advancing our understanding of precepting as a process.
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