Clinical Reasoning Skills

Reasoning menu.


What does it take?

Both factual information as well as processing of the information are required in critical thinking. Both must be learned. Learning for clinical reasoning is driven by repeated exposure to real case examples that illustrate multiple aspects of clinical reasoning. Repeated exposure to these cases enhances acquisition and storage of knowledge in long-term memory.

New knowledge is best acquired in the context of application of that knowledge in the cases. Along with factual information stored in long-term memory, the learner continues to develop memory schemes for representing and relating the clinical problems in reasoning strategies.

Memories of both factual information with schemes and clinical reasoning strategies are enhanced when errors in information, judgment, and reasoning are immediately pointed out and discussed when reviewing the cases.


Bowen JL. Educational strategies to promote clinical diagnostic reasoning. N Engl J Med 2006;355:2217-2225.

Kassirer JP. Teaching clinical reasoning: case-based and coached. Acad Med. 2010; 85:1118-1124.

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