From principles to practice: embedding clinical reasoning as a longitudinal curriculum theme in a medical school programme

Mini Singh, Lisa Collins, Rebecca Farrington, Matthew Jones, Harish Thampy, Pippa Watson, Christian Warner, Kurt Wilson, Jessica Grundy

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There is consensus that clinical reasoning (CR) is crucial for increasing the value of diagnosis, medical decision-making and error reduction. These skills should be developed throughout medical education, starting with undergraduate study. International guidance provides principles for CR curricula but interventions to date, are short term in nature. In this report, we describe the creation of a longitudinal, spiral CR curriculum within a large UK medical school programme (2500 students). A working group drove systematic evidence-based reform of existing structures. We utilised recognised modelSaves for curriculum development and mapping, relating learning outcomes to competency frameworks. Application of multiple teaching methodologies, rooted in enquiry-based learning and reported in CR literature, encourage metacognition for information-processing and illness script development. Development of CR is emphasised with recurrent, progressive learning opportunities, each stage purposefully building upon previous experiences. Formative and summative assessment approaches to drive learning, encouraging students' ability to apply and articulate CR, is constructed via Miller's Prism of Clinical Competence. Implementation of pedagogy is contingent on faculty development. Whilst many clinicians practice sound CR, the ability to articulate it to students is often a novel skill. Engagement in faculty development was strengthened through cross-institutional recognition of teaching workload and flexibility of delivery. We report lessons learned from the implementation phase and plans for measuring impact.

Original languageEnglish
Early online date14 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2021


  • Clinical reasoning
  • curriculum development
  • faculty development


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