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Learning clinical reasoning

Authors


  • Conflict of interest: None.

Abstract

Errors in clinical reasoning continue to account for significant morbidity and mortality, despite evidence-based guidelines and improved technology. Experts in clinical reasoning often use unconscious cognitive processes that they are not aware of unless they explain how they are thinking. Understanding the intuitive and analytical thinking processes provides a guide for instruction. How knowledge is stored is critical to expertise in clinical reasoning. Curricula should be designed so that trainees store knowledge in a way that is clinically relevant. Competence in clinical reasoning is acquired by supervised practice with effective feedback. Clinicians must recognise the common errors in clinical reasoning and how to avoid them. Trainees can learn clinical reasoning effectively in everyday practice if teachers provide guidance on the cognitive processes involved in making diagnostic decisions.

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