Twelve tips for presenting a clinical problem solving exercise

Med Teach. 2009 Dec;31(12):1056-9. doi: 10.3109/01421590902912103.


Background: Lectures are moderately effective for teaching medical knowledge but generally fail at promoting clinical reasoning. In a clinical problem solving (CPS) conference, a clinician is presented an unknown medical case in a stepwise fashion. These popular conferences highlight clinical reasoning and foster active learning to a greater degree than lecture-based education.

Aim: In the absence of literature which addresses the organization of these conferences, we present a guide for the teacher (case presenter) to maximize the session's educational value.

Methods: Practical issues for case selection, preparation, and presentation are addressed. The predominant theme is to retain an emphasis on real-time reasoning and to minimize the artificial nature of solving an unknown case from presented material rather than a live patient.

Conclusions: The successful execution of the CPS engages both the audience and the discussant in real-time problem solving and relies upon the tenants of experiential learning and clinical reasoning rather than the traditional structure of the medical case presentation.

MeSH terms

  • Competency-Based Education / methods*
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Humans
  • Problem Solving*
  • Problem-Based Learning / methods*
  • Teaching / methods