Introduction: Given the widespread use of clinical reasoning (CR) in the healthcare practice, it is essential to inculcate the CR practice in undergraduate pharmacy education which can not only facilitate their clinical education and clinical rotations but can also help them become better clinical pharmacists. There is very limited CR employed in the pharmacy curriculum and practice in the Middle East countries. This study aimed to develop and evaluate CR practice in pharmacy undergraduates in one college of pharmacy in Saudi Arabia.
Methods: We employed a mixed-methods methodology that included two phases. In Phase I, students were introduced to CR practice ('think aloud' method) and given geriatric clinical cases which they used in two sessions together with a tutor. This was followed by the writing of SOAP notes using the tutor feedback and completion of a survey that included a self-reflection about their experience of using the CR method. Phase II included face-to-face semi-structured interviews involving selected students that were recruited via convenience sampling to further explore the issues identified in Phase I of the study.
Results: Of the 155 students who completed the survey (response rate 94%), the majority of them agreed that CR using the 'think aloud' method was useful in gathering (92%) and interpreting (95%) relevant patient information, identifying medication-related problems (95%), exploring therapeutic options for the problem(s) (93%) and formulating a treatment plan for the patient (90%). Qualitative data analysis of the 12 interviews was consistent with these findings. Furthermore, it provided an insight into the challenges faced by the students in applying this CR method.
Conclusions: Students found the practice of CR using the 'think aloud' method helpful in working through given cases and taking clinical decisions. This method can be widely employed in pharmacy education and practice.