Context: When authentic clinical experiences are unavailable, instructors may need to consider alternatives for evaluating clinical reasoning. Objective: Describe an educational technique that simulates clinical experiences to allow students to demonstrate clinical reasoning. Background: The COVID-19 pandemic created a situation where providing clinical experiences became impossible. Yet, students still needed to exercise clinical judgement as part of their athletic training education program. The unfolding case study technique aligns well with Kolb’s Theory of Experiential Learning and can be used to help students improve clinical reasoning and critical thinking skills. Description: An unfolding case study was used to simulate a clinical experience for students when clinical sites became unavailable to students due to COVID-19. The technique involves using a case study over time where the student receives information, evaluates the information, makes a clinical decision in response to the information, and receives further information and feedback based on their decision. This repeats until the student reaches the conclusion of the case. Clinical Advantages: Students found this assignment to be beneficial as it allowed them to practice clinical reasoning and critical thinking in a realistic, yet low risk environment. Students were able to learn new skills in documentation and billing for services. The assignment allows for critical feedback to be given to the students at multiple points. Conclusions: The unfolding case study can be an effective substitute for a clinical experience in extreme situations. The unfolding case study allows students to exercise clinical judgement in a safe environment.

Author Bio(s)

Greg Williams PhD, ATC, CSCS is an Assistant Professor of Athletic Training in the College of Health, Science, and Technology at the University of Central Missouri.

Sara Nottingham EdD, LAT, ATC is an Associate Professor and Program Director/Coordinator of the Athletic Training Program in the College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of New Mexico.




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