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Use Regional Education Forums to Engage Community-Based Family Medicine Preceptors

By Olivia Ojano Sheehan, PhD

Providing regional educational forums is a straight-forward and simple way to provide faculty development. Medical schools can easily adopt a model that aims to maintain important connections and relationships with volunteer clinical faculty.

Since 2016, the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (HCOM) has offered a venue for community-based family medicine physicians to gather, network, and learn through the Family Medicine Clinical Division Forum. The clinical division was developed to continue the connection between the medical college and its adjunct clinical faculty who volunteer to teach medical students completing clerkships in Ohio.

Imagine a mini-STFM conference in the heart of it all–Ohio, that is!

Each clinical division holds its own specialty-specific educational forums. Currently, HCOM has eleven other clinical divisions in addition to family medicine. For family medicine, the clinical division forums are free for attendees and financially-sponsored by HCOM. The one-day forum is held 3 times a year at the HCOM Dublin Campus and has approximately 12-15 osteopathic and allopathic Ohio family physicians attend. The forum does not provide CME credit.

The forums provide interactive presentations on education topics relevant to their role as clinical faculty and are based on the family medicine preceptors’ annual needs assessment. The presentations range from curriculum development (“Make It Stick: Rationale for Curriculum Redesign”), operations and management (“GME Financing”), to clinical practice (“Motivational Interviewing”).  Other presentations focus on Clinical Learning Environment Review faculty development priorities such as quality improvement, wellness, and education. Examples are “Quality Improvement – Why and How?”, “Overview on Clinical Competency Committee,” and “Besting the Burnout Beast.”

In addition, the forums provide hands-on workshops, like “Point-of-Care Ultrasound” or “Osteopathic Manipulative Technique for Restless Leg Syndrome”, where active engagement is reinforced. The number of presented sessions at each forum is variable. Sometimes, there are up to five lectures in a day; at other clinical division forums, one workshop may take up to one half of the day, which means there will only be a total of two or three presentations. The majority of the presenters are HCOM clinical faculty.  

Just like how STFM is called the indispensable academic home for teachers of family medicine1, the clinical division is the regional academic home for HCOM FM adjunct clinical faculty. They participate in clinical division forums because they receive professional development and a sense of being part of an academic community. This type of faculty development leads to increased faculty confidence, an awareness of effective educational practices, the opportunity for networking, and the potential for research and publication.  

Learning from other faculty is a major benefit of participating in the clinical division forums. By bringing together community-based family medicine preceptors, the clinical division forums give participants the opportunity and space to learn from each other on how to enhance the clinical learning environment, address teaching challenges, promote business partnering and collaboration, and build a better continuum of medical education. The family medicine clinical division is a small and intimate group where connections are made and relationships are nurtured.

HCOM plans to evaluate the effectiveness of the forums using Kirkpatrick’s evaluation model and/or a focus group where forum participants’ perceptions are assessed. Kirkpatrick stated that evaluation is important to training programs because the process can tell us how to improve future programs and helps determine whether a program should be continued or dropped.2  Whether HCOM uses quantitative or qualitative methods, the evaluation will remain an essential component of this educational venture.



  1. Saultz, J. Defining scholarship. Fam Med. 2013;45(8):589-90.
  2. Kirkpatrick, DL. Evaluating training programs: the four levels. 1998. SF, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

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