Clinical reasoning has been defined as ‘the sum of thinking and decision-making processes associated with clinical practice … it enables practitioners to take … the best judged action in a specific context.’ Simply put, clinical reasoning is the process of making sense of the breadth of (often ambiguous and/or conflicting) clinical information regarding a patient’s presentation, in order to decide on the optimal plan of management. It is a core skill of the competent general practitioner and a fundamental learning objective of GP training.
Clinical reasoning encapsulates skills in:
- Data gathering.
- Synthesis and interpretation.
- Communication and consultation.
- Patient-centred care and shared decision-making.
- Managing uncertainty.
- Evidence-based medicine.
- Reflective practice.
Effective clinical reasoning requires a balance of the art and science of general practice. While development of clinical reasoning skills is based on accumulated experience, it is also a skill that can be taught. GP supervisors therefore play a key role in the development of clinical reasoning skills in their GP registrars, in particular how to ‘think like a general practitioner’.
This guide aims to support GP supervisors to assess, and facilitate development of, their GP registrar’s clinical reasoning skills in the general practice setting. In particular, this guide will focus on diagnostic clinical reasoning. Thank you to our supporters. General Practice Supervisors Australia (GPSA) is supported by funding from the Australian Government under the Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) program.