Patient exposure in the basic science classroomenhances differential diagnosis formation and clinical decision-making

Justin G. Peacock, Joseph P. Grande

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose. The authors proposed that introducing real patients into a pathology classroom early in medical education would help integrate fundamental principles and disease pathology with clinical presentation and medical history. Methods. Three patients with different pathologies described their history and presentation without revealing their diagnosis. Students were required to submit a differential diagnosis in writing, and then were able to ask questions to arrive at the correct diagnosis. Students were surveyed on the efficacy of patient-based learning. Results. Average student scores on the differential diagnosis assignments significantly improved 32% during the course. From the survey, 72% of students felt that patient encounters should be included in the pathology course next year. Seventy-four percent felt that the differential diagnosis assignments helped them develop clinical decision-making skills. Seventy-three percent felt that the experience helped them know what questions to ask patients. Eighty-six percent felt that they obtained a better understanding of patients' social and emotional challenges. Discussion. Having students work through the process of differential diagnosis formulation when encountering a real patient and their clinical presentation improved clinical decision-making skills and integrated fundamental concepts with disease pathology during a basic science pathology course.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere809
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015


  • Basic science
  • Clinical decision-making
  • Clinical skills
  • Differential diagnosis
  • Empathy
  • History-taking
  • Pathology
  • Patient exposure
  • Pre-clinical
  • Undergraduate medical education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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