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Indian Pediatr. 2015 Sep;52(9):787-94.

Teaching and Assessing Clinical Reasoning Skills.

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Departments of *Obstetric and Gynecology, Peoples College of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Bhopal; Pathology, Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Sevagram; #Pediatrics, University College of Medical Sciences, New Delhi; and CMCL FAIMER Regional Institute, Christian Medical College, Ludhiana, Punjab; India. Correspondence to: Dr Tejinder Singh, Professor of Pediatrics and Medical Education, Christian Medical College, Ludhiana 141 008, India.


Clinical reasoning is a core competency expected to be acquired by all clinicians. It is the ability to integrate and apply different types of knowledge, weigh evidence critically and reflect upon the process used to arrive at a diagnosis. Problems with clinical reasoning often occur because of inadequate knowledge, flaws in data gathering and improper approach to information processing. Some of the educational strategies which can be used to encourage acquisition of clinical reasoning skills are: exposure to a wide variety of clinical cases, activation of previous knowledge, development of illness scripts, sharing expert strategies to arrive at a diagnosis, forcing students to prioritize differential diagnoses; and encouraging reflection, metacognition, deliberate practice and availability of formative feedback. Assessment of clinical reasoning abilities should be done throughout the training course in diverse settings. Use of scenario based multiple choice questions, key feature test and script concordance test are some ways of theoretically assessing clinical reasoning ability. In the clinical setting, these skills can be tested in most forms of workplace based assessment. We recommend that clinical reasoning must be taught at all levels of medical training as it improves clinician performance and reduces cognitive errors.

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