Publication Date



patient-centered learning, longitudinal clinical experience, empathy, medical education, training


Purpose: Longitudinal patient-partnered experiences may promote medical student empathy, but evaluation of such programs is limited. The aim of this study was to compare areas of learning among first-year medical students randomized to a patient-centered track (PCT) or traditional track (TT) longitudinal clinical experience.

Methods: PCT students (n = 24) were paired with 2 patients and a physician to participate in their patients’ care across multiple settings. TT students (n = 56) were paired with a physician preceptor and participated in caring for a variety of patients in a single setting. This qualitative study used a phenomenological approach to template analysis, examining and comparing student reflective essays for areas of learning.

Results: Three domains of learning emerged: 1) Focus of learning (biomedical, patient-centered); 2) Roles and relationships (clinical skills, relationship-building, teaching from preceptor and patients); and 3) Context of care (health systems science, interprofessional care). PCT students described patient-centered learning, relationship-building, and patients’ role as teachers. In contrast, TT students emphasized biomedical learning, clinical skills development, and teaching from physician preceptors.

Conclusions: Longitudinal patient-partnered clinical experiences provide rich opportunities for preclinical students to cultivate empathy and develop patient-centered values.




December 3rd, 2021


April 20th, 2022


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