Proficient clinical reasoning is a critical skill in high-quality, evidence-based management of swallowing impairment (dysphagia). Clinical reasoning in this area of practice is a cognitively complex process, as it requires synthesis of multiple sources of information that are generated during a thorough, evidence-based assessment process and which are moderated by the patient's individual situations, including their social and demographic circumstances, comorbidities, or other health concerns. A growing body of health and medical literature demonstrates that clinical reasoning skills develop with increasing exposure to clinical cases and that the approaches to clinical reasoning differ between novices and experts. It appears that it is not the amount of knowledge held, but the way it is used, that distinguishes a novice from an experienced clinician. In this article, we review the roles of explicit and implicit processing as well as illness scripts in clinical decision making across the continuum of medical expertise and discuss how they relate to the clinical management of swallowing impairment. We also reflect on how this literature may inform educational curricula that support SLP students in developing preclinical reasoning skills that facilitate their transition to early clinical practice. Specifically, we discuss the role of case-based curricula to assist students to develop a meta-cognitive awareness of the different approaches to clinical reasoning, their own capabilities and preferences, and how and when to apply these in dysphagia management practice.
- clinical reasoning
- dual-cognitive processing theory
- case-based curriculum