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Knowing what we know: A new SAPC interest group

When we work with patients to either make sense of their illness or health concerns, or find ways to deal with them, we are actively involved in creating and using new understanding and knowledge in practice.

A growing body of research describes this clinical scholarship in action. John Gabbay’s now well-recognised work on clinical mindlines describes how GPs work together to create new knowledge-in-practice-in-context (mindlines). He offers a detailed account of clinicians using their professional expertise to adapt the findings of general scientific study to fit the local needs of this population and this context. Donner Banzhoff explains why the traditional clinical model of hypothetico-deductive reasoning doesn’t fully explain the work of GPs in practice. He coined the term ‘inductive foraging’ to describe the process that GPs use to create new knowledge in practice.

Yet elsewhere, clinicians describe feeling that their profession training hasn’t adequately prepared them for this important task.

WiseGP recognises that clinical practice requires that clinicians not only possess the knowledge of clinical practice, but also the expertise to use that knowledge appropriately (safely, wisely, robustly) in order to generate new knowledge-in-practice and so deliver the highest standards of patient-centred healthcare.

Clinical scholarship refers to the principles and practice by which clinicians make decisions as valid and trustworthy as possible. It recognises that quality practice depends on not what you know, but how you use that knowledge to interpret, explain and make judgements driving clinical action.

The skills of clinical scholarship thus build on the core concepts of applied epistemology: the study of knowledge and justified belief.

Yet clinical training does not routinely teach these concepts. To strengthen scholarship for modern clinical practice, we need to address that gap.

We are establishing a new SAPC Special Interest Group in Clinical Epistemology. We will bring together clinicians, educators and researchers to consider how we can translate applied epistemological principles into educational practice. We will be posting details about the group on the SAPC and WiseGP websites shortly. In the meantime, if you are interested in hearing more please contact Joanne Reeve []


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