Staying on top of emerging medicine is vital for providing the best care to patients and has multiple benefits for physicians. For patients, the benefits are obvious. Medical knowledge is constantly changing, and frequently, practices that were once considered “best practice” are now overturned by new clinical trials. For physicians, those who keep actively learning stay sharp and attentive to details, which makes them more engaged and helps them feel more in control. In addition, physicians who are on top of their game are less likely to be stumped by a new or mysterious case. At a time when physician burnout is skyrocketing, anything that helps physicians restore their passion for medicine is important for both the individual physician and for the field as a whole.
At a time when physician burnout is skyrocketing, anything that helps physicians restore their passion for medicine is important for both the individual physician and for the field as a whole.
However, keeping up with all of the developments in medicine is an extremely difficult task. A study published in 2004 (and think how much the literature has grown since then) that examined how much time a primary care physician would need to keep up with relevant literature found that “physicians trained in epidemiology would take an estimated 627.5 hours per month to evaluate these articles.” In other words, if physicians devoted a full 16 hours per day just to reading medical literature, they still would not get through all of it by the end of the month.
Even if a physician were to read every single one of these articles, simply reading them does not translate to better practice. Effective learning is interactive learning that helps physicians think critically about emerging medicine and how to use this in real cases. In addition, physicians often need multiple exposures to new information before they can absorb it.
“physicians trained in epidemiology would take an estimated 627.5 hours per month to evaluate these articles”
Therefore, every physician needs to find a trusted source to curate information on relevant emerging medicine that actually promotes learning. When you are using a curation tool, you should be able to easily recall the information presented and apply it at the bedside. A good tool will provide options for learning at your own pace, in your own learning style (e.g. visual, auditory, tactile). Most importantly, whatever you choose should be engaging enough to hold your interest so you devote your full attention to it.
Keep in mind that medical search engines that allow you to search for specific information at the bedside are great for just that. They are an excellent resource when you can’t recall something in the moment, but they are not a learning tool. Think of them the way you think of dictionaries. Sometimes, you can’t remember exactly how to spell a word and you need to look it up, but you wouldn’t want to use a dictionary to look up every single word you write.
Keeping up with emerging medicine and implementing it into your practice does require a time commitment, but with a trusted source of curated content, you can realistically squeeze it into your busy schedule. The benefits to you and your patients are worth it.