"Clinical reasoning theater": a new approach to clinical reasoning education

Acad Med. 2003 Mar;78(3):322-5. doi: 10.1097/00001888-200303000-00017.


Recently the authors developed and implemented a new approach to clinical reasoning education called clinical reasoning theater (CRT). The purpose of CRT is to demonstrate the process of clinical reasoning to students through the conversation of a doctor with his or her patient. With students as the audience, the doctor's clinical reasoning skills are modeled in CRT when he or she thinks aloud during conversations with the patient, which makes clear why he or she asks particular questions. In CRT the interaction between doctor and patient is analyzed in such a way that the repeated cycles of questions and answers are revealed to the students. CRT's format and the activities of the three "actors,"(the doctor, the patient, and the audience of students) are described. Two "acts" are repeatedly performed. The first act (the communication between the doctor and the patient) deals with the history taking, physical examination, etc. The second act, the time-out period, is the most important component of CRT. In this act, the doctor explains his or her reflections and discusses suggestions from the audience for additional questions. The preliminary results of students' evaluations of the relevance of CRT reveal that they appreciate CRT. Further, the CRT format offers instructors with previous experience as lecturers only sufficient tools to apply the new approach successfully.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Clinical Medicine / education*
  • Clinical Medicine / methods*
  • Communication
  • Decision Making*
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic / methods