Background: As medical schools develop clinical experiences in the preclinical years, identifying suitable preceptors and training sites can be a problem. To begin to ameliorate this problem, we present the role of an Area Health Education Center (AHEC) program in the development of a clinical experience in the preclinical years. Description: The Clinical Skills Program (CSP) at the University of Miami School of Medicine is a 2-year longitudinal experience for 1st- and 2nd-year students. Students learn interviewing, physical diagnosis, clinical problem solving, and patient management skills from community physicians, supplemented by didactic sessions. Evaluations: AHEC contributes to the design, implementation, and operation of the program. AHEC recruits preceptors and arranges affiliations with community-based primary care clinics to serve as training sites. It also supports the course coordinator and provides financial support for preceptor recognition and certain preceptors working in severely underserved communities. Conclusion: Schools considering programs like the CSP should look to AHEC programs to provide important resources.
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