This 90-minute session seeks to provide a systematic framework for medical students relatively new to the differential diagnosis process. Via a combined lecture/case-based approach, the session presents basic clinical reasoning concepts and specific heuristics to guide the differential process, followed by an opportunity to apply the tools to simulated pediatric cases. It also introduces the concept of cognitive biases and presents strategies to mitigate their effects. The session has been successfully used with third-year medical students during the first week of their pediatrics clerkship. However, with minor adaptation, a similar approach could be used at other levels of medical training or in other clinical settings. For over 4 years, this session has been given to third-year pediatric clerkship students at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences during the first week of their pediatric clerkship at Children’s National Medical Center. Between 25 and 35 students typically participate in the session. Students are asked to provide feedback about teaching effectiveness, and the session has routinely been very well received, with average ratings of over 4.8 out of 5.
- Present an overview of the theoretical foundations and challenges of the differential diagnosis process.
- Provide a structured, systematic, adaptable approach to the differential diagnosis
- Describe the concept of cognitive biases and how they can lead to diagnostic errors.
- Describe the concept of a diagnostic time-out to help mitigate the potential effects of diagnostic errors.
- Practice their diagnostic skills on a set of representative pediatric cases.
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