An article from the AAMC discussing the lack of clerkship sites in relation to the number of medical students.


Hands-on clinical experience is essential to producing future physicians. But some schools have been struggling to find enough clerkship sites and preceptors. Now, COVID-19 has only worsened their worries. We look at the problem — and possible solutions.

For Catherine Houle, MD, training medical students during their clinical rotations at West River Health Services in New England, North Dakota, isn’t just part of her job. It’s a moral imperative.

“I’m involved because that’s what you do. Someone taught me. So now I’ve got to teach, too,” she says.

Houle and other practitioners who take the time to teach are central to the medical school model in which future physicians learn from experienced providers during clinical clerkships. These hands-on experiences — generally lasting four to eight weeks — are where students practice physical exams, decision-making, patient communication, and other essential skills.

But in recent years, finding such instructors and clerkship sites has grown tough for some medical schools — and the global pandemic has only complicated matters.

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