What is a clinical pearl and what is its role in medical education?

Med Teach. 2008;30(9-10):870-4. doi: 10.1080/01421590802144286.


Background: Despite the advent of evidence-based medicine, clinical pearls, verbal and published, remain a popular and important part of medical education.

Aims: The purpose of this study was to establish a definition of a clinical pearl and to determine criteria for an educationally sound clinical pearl.

Methods: The authors searched the Medline database for material dealing with clinical pearls, examined and discussed the information found, and formulated a consensus opinion regarding the definition and criteria.

Results: Clinical pearls are best defined as small bits of free standing, clinically relevant information based on experience or observation. They are part of the vast domain of experience-based medicine, and can be helpful in dealing with clinical problems for which controlled data do not exist.

Conclusions: While there are no universally accepted criteria for preparing or evaluating a clinical pearl, we propose some rational guidelines for both.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Medicine / education*
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Humans
  • Teaching / methods*