Case-based discussions [CbDs] are proven clinical scenarios that simulate findings from live patients, but on an online platform, allowing students to develop their clinical reasoning & instincts. CbDs are online programs that mimic real-life clinical situations encountered by doctors in their day-to-day workplace/ practice. They essentially derive their strength from branching logic, where a simulated situation teases the student with a strategic decision-taking question, which in turn decides the next course of action as well as what follows and sometimes the final outcome also. This process, which might well be called a decision tree, exposes students to real clinical situations that challenge their clinical acumen, without itemizing them [like history-taking, general, physical and systemic examination, investigations and so on,] which is more an academic undergraduate requirement.
Each scenario offers an opportunity for students to test their clinical reasoning skills and thus experience the consequences of each decision. A decision taken earlier might either have a serious implication or a good prognostic value in the final outcome of the case.
Students are advised to complete the scenarios individually and then discuss the case in more detail in the digital classroom [the discussion forum available in the online platform], comparing their answers and the reasoning which led to them.
The rationale of this tool, is that it teaches the students the ‘whys’ of decision-making; it also lets them see for themselves how their decisions impact the outcome, which relates well with critical thinking when caring for patients. This in a way resolves the challenge that online education faces in terms of enhancing hands-on skills and tends to dissolve the myth that online education can/does not augment clinical skills.