Clinical Reasoning by Veterinary Students in the First-Opinion Setting: Is It Encouraged? Is It Practiced?

Humm, K R and May, S A (2017) Clinical Reasoning by Veterinary Students in the First-Opinion Setting: Is It Encouraged? Is It Practiced? JOURNAL OF VETERINARY MEDICAL EDUCATION, 45 (2). pp. 156-162.

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Abstract

A mixed-methods study was performed to investigate the perceived importance and efficacy of teaching clinical reasoning (CR) skills among students and faculty in a university first-opinion veterinary practice, as this has not previously been described. Qualitative analysis of interview data, discussing objectives and factors considered important for effective learning and the understanding of CR, was performed alongside quantitative analysis of the Preceptor Thinking-Promotion Scale (PTPS) and the Learner Thinking-Behavior Scale (LTBS) (assessing the level of CR encouraged by clinicians and displayed by students) in peri-consultation discussions. Themes that emerged from analysis of the interviews regarding objectives included the desire to develop data acquisition and the need to improve data manipulation and CR. Themes associated with effective learning were a positive student-centered learning environment and feedback. Type II CR was fairly well described, but recognition of the importance of type I CR was poor among clinicians and students and, in some instances, was deemed to be inappropriate. Although many clinicians and students expressed a desire to develop student CR, there was little evidence of this actually occurring in the interactions analyzed, with low PTPS and LTBS scores achieved. There was also poor understanding of whether effective teaching of CR had occurred, demonstrated by a lack of correlation between LTBS and the interaction score for development of student CR. Further training of clinicians and students of the value of type I CR in first-opinion practice is required, as well as clinician education in how best to support the development of CR in students.