Explicit Theory-Informed Clinical Reasoning Curriculum in a Hybrid Learning Physical Therapy Program

Document Type



Despite agreement among educators that clinical reasoning (CR) is an essential skill for health care professionals, use of explicit, theory-informed CR strategies and tools are lacking in Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) educational programs. The purpose of this commentary is to describe a four-step process whereby CR is implemented as an explicit curricular component in an accelerated, hybrid DPT program. Our process utilized four steps: 1) Identifying relevant literature and theories that informed our current understanding of CR, 2) Creating a programmatic definition of CR, 3) Delineating educational principles and curricular components that operationalize the teaching and assessment of CR, and 4) Developing the faculty to implement CR in the curriculum. A DPT program that explicitly implemented CR into its curriculum received state and regional approval, and Candidate for Accreditation status and admitted its first cohort in 2022. Programmatic outcomes will be reported in two years. The curriculum was purposefully constructed with the goal to make proficiency in CR a required outcome. Robust teaching, learning, and assessment strategies were developed to cultivate and make explicit the essential behaviors and skills of CR. Setting high expectations for adaptive learners will add to the culture that supports excellence in PT education.

Publication Date

Fall 2023

Publication Title

Journal of Allied Health


Association of Schools Advancing Health Professions





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