Development and Validation of a Formative Assessment Tool for Nephrology Fellows' Clinical Reasoning

Suzanne M. Boyle, James Martindale, Andrew S. Parsons, Stephen M. Sozio, Rachel Hilburg, Jehan Bahrainwala, Lili Chan, Lauren D. Stern, Karen M. Warburton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background Diagnostic errors are commonly driven by failures in clinical reasoning. Deficits in clinical reasoning are common among graduate medical learners, including nephrology fellows. We created and validated an instrument to assess clinical reasoning in a national cohort of nephrology fellows and established performance thresholds for remedial coaching. Methods Experts in nephrology education and clinical reasoning remediation designed an instrument to measure clinical reasoning through a written patient encounter note from a web-based, simulated AKI consult. The instrument measured clinical reasoning in three domains: problem representation, differential diagnosis with justification, and diagnostic plan with justification. Inter-rater reliability was established in a pilot cohort (n57 raters) of first-year nephrology fellows using a two-way random effects agreement intraclass correlation coefficient model. The instrument was then administered to a larger cohort of first-year fellows to establish performance standards for coaching using the Hofstee method (n56 raters). Results In the pilot cohort, there were 15 fellows from four training program, and in the study cohort, there were 61 fellows from 20 training programs. The intraclass correlation coefficients for problem representation, differential diagnosis, and diagnostic plan were 0.90, 0.70, and 0.50, respectively. Passing thresholds (% total points) in problem representation, differential diagnosis, and diagnostic plan were 59%, 57%, and 62%, respectively. Fifty-nine percent (n536) met the threshold for remedial coaching in at least one domain. Conclusions We provide validity evidence for a simulated AKI consult for formative assessment of clinical reasoning in nephrology fellows. Most fellows met criteria for coaching in at least one of three reasoning domains, demonstrating a need for learner assessment and instruction in clinical reasoning. CJASN 19: 26-34, 2024.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-34
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024


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