Thursday, May 28, 2015

Social Media in Medicine: Lifelong Learning for All Through Free Open Access

I recently posted about online resources for lifelong learning.  This is a very important topic as emerging technology continues to be a part of medicine.  Just last month, I was privileged to be an author for one article on Live Tweeting in Medicine, within an entire issue of a medical journal focusing on social media.  The guest editor, Dr. Meg Chisolm, has worked with the journal, International Review of Psychiatry, to make the entire issue free open access from now until the end of June 2015.  This is extremely exciting as it makes available to all some wonderful reviews of social media within medicine in a variety of contexts.  I encourage you to take advantage of reviewing these articles, and saving them as resources.  The link to the entire issue of the journal (with free access to all articles full-text through June 2015) is here

In addition, a Twitter chat discussing pertinent issues of social media in medicine, under the hashtag #nephJC will take place on June 16, 2015 at 9 pm EST, and again at 8 pm GMT on June 17, 2015 (as a time more conducive for our colleagues in Europe/Africa).  Many of the authors from this issue will be tweeting in during that discussion.

This is a leading example of sharing materials for lifelong learning for all.  Please share via social media to demonstrate the impact that social media can have!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Using Technology for Lifelong Learning in Medicine

I think that in the current age of “everything at one’s fingertips”, in the form of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, the concept of lifelong learning has never been more important.  How does a physician “keep up”?  What are the skills that are important for physicians to have?  Dr. Vartabedian has written extensively on the subject of the digital literacy that is needed for today’s physicians.  Curating, collating, and how to find what one needs are skills that need to be taught, not only to students and residents, but also to practicing clinicians.

Given the plethora of sources available, I am seeing trainees more and more asking “what should I read/study?”  This is interesting, since there never have been more resources available than in today’s age.  I’d like to give just a few examples of tools that I find incredibly helpful.

[Full disclosure, I have no financial conflicts with any of these tools mentioned.  My spouse is an emergency physician in community practice.]

Browzine.  I use this resource on a mobile tablet through my institutional library subscription.  It allows opportunity to get full text articles from most of the journals with which our library has a subscription.  It is also great to review table of contents quickly, with fast linking to the full text if I want to read more.

NEJM Knowledge+. This resource is a way to review content for internal medicine (and family medicine) through adaptive learning, which is very unique.  I think of it as “smart testing”, whereby one inputs both answers to multiple choice questions, as well as her/his confidence in the answer provided.  Here is a link to an explanation on this type of learning.  I have used my own account to choose questions for residents during education conferences, and the engagement from the residents has been quite impressive.  There is also an opportunity to purchase an account for an entire residency program.

ALiEM: this is a compendium by emergency medicine specialists which is an incredible resource for those interested in this field.  It includes posts on staying healthy, links to apps pertinent to caring for patients in an emergency setting, resources for teaching in emergency medicine, as well as learning emergency medicine.    I especially like the videos describing procedures in the ED setting.  For those interested in improving their educator skills, the MEdiC links are incredibly helpful.

Twitter: there is an incredible community of practice related to medical educators on Twitter.  I learn so much from folks I have met, and also many I have yet to meet in real life.  A Thursday evening, 9 pm EDT Twitter chat on medical education topics is a great opportunity to start learning from others.  For literature on this topic, see these two articles: one on using Twitter as a learning tool, and one on social media for lifelong learning

I am curious what other online resources and technology that others are using for their own lifelong learning.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Lifelong Learning in Medicine

Physicians and other health care providers are incredibly busy.  The administrative burdens have never been greater, they must learn to “keep up” in their respective area of practice, and caring for patients is a complex set of skills that takes time to achieve proficiency.  Recently, there has been a flurry of conversation in medical education about lifelong learning, including this piece on the interplay of social media and lifelong learning.  Most would agree that lifelong learning (whether self-directed or otherwise) is an important skill.  In fact, we teach this early on in medical school, and continue to stress the importance of lifelong learning during residency training and again in practice.

This post by Dr. John Mandrola on the NEJM Knowledge+ blog really hits home with respect to lifelong learning for practicing clinicians.  I really appreciate the last point about finding one’s own strategy for lifelong learning.  I struggle with optimal formats for “teaching” people to have a strategy.  Some excel at this skill, and others really need to work at it.  I think that maybe modeling it to trainees could have an effect (“Someday, I want to be like Dr. X; she is always striving to learn, even after 20 years in practice”). 

I do believe that given the rate of change in medicine, it is paramount that physicians consider the important of lifelong learning.  After all, our patients will ultimately benefit from our efforts to be lifelong learners and to stay current in our practice of medicine.