Experience based learning (ExBL): Clinical teaching for the twenty-first century

Tim Dornan*, Richard Conn, Helen Monaghan, Grainne Kearney, Hannah Gillespie, Deirdre Bennett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

49 Citations (Web of Science)


The problem: Clinical practice commonly presents new doctors with situations that they are incapable of managing safely. This harms patients and stresses the new doctors and other clinicians. Unpreparedness for practice remains a problem despite changes in curricula from apprenticeship to outcome-based designs. This is unsurprising because capability depends on learning from practical experience in supportive learning environments. To assure the care of patients and well-being of residents, the pedagogy of medical students' practice-based education is in urgent need of an overhaul. This Guide: Experience based learning (ExBL) is a 21(st) century pedagogy of practice-based learning, derived from best current theory and evidence. ExBL specifies capabilities that medical students need to acquire from practical experience. It exemplifies how clinicians' behavior can help students gain experience. It explains how reflection converts real patient learning into capability and identity. It identifies desirable features of learning environments. This Guide advises clinicians, students, placement leads, faculty developers, and other stakeholders how to make new doctors as capable as possible. ExBL is a comprehensive model of medical students' practice-based learning, which complements competency-based education to prepare new doctors to deliver safe, effective, and compassionate care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1098-1105
Number of pages8
JournalMedical Teacher
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2019

Cite this