2 quick tips to transform your clinical reasoning dialogue with your clients.

Words by Sarah Yule

Consider the amount of time you spent at uni chatting about not WHAT the pathology was but HOW to explain it to a patient that hasn't studied your degree for 4 years?

Yes, your clinical knowledge and diagnostics back to front is crucial to complete the treatment. Of course communicating something you don't understand well will be difficult but does this knowledge make you a good educator? Perhaps the treatment based on your clinical reasoning is enough and the client doesn't need to know in depth why it works just that it does? Given you've scrolled through to the Day One website and you're reading this blog, you're, admirably so, not satisfied with 'enough'. 

So, how do you make sure your clients walk out your door knowing what they need to know? Researchers have found that performing clinical reasoning and actually articulating clinical reasoning are dynamic concepts that should be practiced and performed in synergy (Ajjawi & Higgs, 2012). 

1) Know your stuff: one of the best things about the career path we have all chosen is that the learning never finishes. Its the gift that keeps on giving. Keep up to date with research through attending professional developments, following a few researchers on twitter or some practitioners on Instagram. At the risk of sounding like Dr Seuss: remember that knowing what you know and knowing it well will also give you confidence in knowing what you don't know...so that hopefully one day you can also know that well.  

2) Continue to be reflective: Active listening involves a two way dialogue and is an effective tool to momentarily reflect within a session, how clear your communication has been. Clarify that your client has understood what you have told them perhaps by asking them to briefly rephrase their understanding. In your own learnings consider how you may portray relevant information to your client. Remember that communication of clinical reasoning is a reconstruction of the information you feel is relevant for the client not necessarily a condensed version of your anatomy textbook. Don't be afraid to try new ways of framing pathology and clinical reasoning. Some will work, some won't but the key is recognising this in your reflections.   

The skill in the development of communication of clinical reasoning, like many other facets of your treatment delivery, is produced in accordance with the experience you want to deliver. If you want to discover and explore more about what your professional 'WHY' is and what your personal brand is, sign up for our courses so you can make each treatment an experience! 


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Ajjawi, R., & Higgs, J. (2012). Core components of communication of clinical reasoning: A qualitative study with experienced Australian physiotherapists. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 17(1), 107-119.

Sarah Yule