CAEP GeMES | Non-traditional learning methods by EM Residents

In Education & Quality Improvement, Great Evidence in Medical education Summary (GEMeS) by Andrew HallLeave a Comment

Alexis, a first-year Emergency Medicine resident at Millborough Hospital, was studying with some of her senior residents, who could not stop talking about the various podcasts and blogs that they have been using to prepare for their rotations. Alexis, a self-proclaimed “old soul,” has gotten by just fine so far with her traditional textbook and lecture based learning, but does find them low-yield at times. She wonders whether it is worth changing her study habits.

Emergency Medicine has led the educational charge to democratize information generation and dissemination through the FOAMed movement. Because of the accessibility, quality and variety of media, FOAMed has quickly taken prominence in resident education.  This “Great Evidence in Medical education Summary” (GEMeS – pronounced “gems”) was originally posted by the CAEP EWG GEMeS Team on April 17, 2015 and answers the question: “What non-traditional learning methods are current emergency medicine (EM) residents using and to what extent do they find these resources beneficial compared to more traditional modalities?” A PDF version of the GEMeS summary is available here.

Education Question or Problem

What non-traditional learning methods are current emergency medicine (EM) residents using and to what extent do they find these resources beneficial compared to more traditional modalities?

Bottom Line

EM residents spent more time listening to podcasts and rated podcasts as more beneficial to their learning when compared to peer-reviewed sources such as textbooks and journal articles.
Mallin M, Schlein S, Doctor S, Stroud S, Dawson M. A Survey of the Current Utilization of Asynchronous Education Among Emergency Medicine Residents in the United States. Acad Med. 2014;89:598-601
DOI: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000170
Study Design
This was a survey study distributed to 406 residents across twelve different U.S. EM training programs. The results were evaluated using descriptive statistics and the chi-square test statistic for categorical variables.
Funding Sources
None reported
Twelve different EM training programs in different geographic locations across the United States.
Level of Learning
All levels of residents enrolled in American EM programs.

Synopsis of Study

An eight-question survey was sent to 406 residents across 12 different U.S. EM training programs. 226 (56.3%) residents responded to the survey. Important quantitative results included:

  • Residents spent the greatest amount of time listening to podcasts (35%) followed by reading textbooks (33.6%) and searching Google (21.4%);
  • More residents rated podcasts as beneficial to their learning (70.3%) than they did for both textbooks (54.3%) and journal articles (36.5%);
  • Residents mostly chose what to study based on recent clinical encounters (80% of the time);
  • Most residents rarely/less than half the time actually review the quality of evidence or the references discussed in a given podcast or blog.
  • The primary conclusions of the study are that residents are using more open access interactive multimedia tools, and that medical educators need to guide learners in their appropriate use.

Why is it relevant to Emergency Medicine Education?

EM has seen an explosion of free online educational resources known as Free Open Access Medical Education (FOAMed; Twitter hashtag #FOAMed). This is a paradigm shift in medical education. Educational leaders need to be cognizant of their increased use in order to guide their appropriate use and consider incorporating them more formally into postgraduate training programs.

At the last CAEP Conference, the Academic Symposium discussed the need for critical evaluation to judge FOAMed content given its capacity to influence a wide range of learners, clinicians and educators. What are your favourite ways that we as an educational body can ensure quality control while preserving the democratic appeal of the FOAMed platform?


More About the CAEP GEMeS

This post was originally authored for the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians (CAEP) Great Evidence in Medical Education Summaries (GEMeS) project sponsored by the CAEP Academic Section’s Education Working Group and edited by Drs. Teresa Chan and Julien Poitras. CAEP members receive GEMeS each month in the CAEP Communiqué. CanadiEM will be reposting some of these summaries, along with a case/contextualizing concept to highlight some recent medical education literature that is relevant to our nation’s teachers.


Andrew Hall

Andrew Hall

Andrew Hall is Assistant Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Queen’s University. He is a simulation-based resuscitation rounds instructor and runs the simulation-based OSCE assessment program for EM residents. Additionally, he is the CBME Lead for FRCPC-EM training program at Queen’s.
Matthew White

Matthew White

Matt is currently a fourth year emergency medicine resident at Queen’s University. His interests include medical education.
Matthew White

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Daniel Ting

Daniel Ting is an Emergency Physician and Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia, based in Vancouver. He is the Editor-in-Chief of CanadiEM and a Decision Editor at the Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine. He completed the CanadiEM Digital Scholarship Fellowship in 2017-18. No conflicts of interest (COI).