Teaching clinical reasoning to medical students

SP Gay, M Bartlett, Robert McKinley

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    42 Citations (Scopus)
    292 Downloads (Pure)


    BACKGROUND: Keele Medical School's new curriculum includes a 5-week course to extend medical students' consultation skills beyond those historically required for competent inductive diagnosis.

    CONTEXT: Clinical reasoning is a core skill for the practice of medicine, and is known to have implications for patient safety, yet historically it has not been explicitly taught. Rather, it has been assumed that these skills will be learned by accumulating a body of knowledge and by observing expert clinicians. This course aims to assist students to develop their own clinical reasoning skills and promote their greater understanding of, and potential to benefit from, the clinical reasoning skills of others. The course takes place in the fourth or penultimate year, and is integrated with students' clinical placements, giving them opportunities to practise and quickly embed their learning.

    INNOVATION: This course emphasises that clinical reasoning extends beyond initial diagnosis into all other aspects of clinical practice, particularly clinical management. It offers students a variety of challenging and interesting opportunities to engage with clinical reasoning across a wide range of clinical practice. It addresses bias through metacognition and increased self-awareness, considers some of the complexities of prescribing and non-pharmacological interventions, and promotes pragmatic evidence-based practice, information management within the consultation and the maximising of patient adherence. This article describes clinical reasoning-based classroom and community teaching.

    IMPLICATIONS: Early evaluation suggests that students value the course and benefit from it.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)308 - 312
    JournalClinical Teacher
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2013


    • clinical competence, curriculum, diagnosis, education, medical education, medical students, teaching


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