BoringEM: We Need Your help – Digital Scholarship Elective

In Mentorship by Alia Dharamsi1 Comment

Digital Scholarship & the Scholarship of Teaching

Editor’s note: Alia Dharamsi is a PGY1 from the University of Toronto. She will be completing the first ever Digital Scholarship Elective with myself (Dr. Teresa Chan) & Dr. Andrew Petrosoniak this December.  The following is a write up by Alia that describes her intended experience, and then we have a small favour to ask of you at the end…. (SPOILER: She has as short survey you can help her complete… CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE SURVEY.)

– Teresa Chan

The Question:
As social media garners more momentum in the realm of medical education, how can I as an Emergency Medicine Resident learn how to teach effectively online?


What is the role of Social Media in Emergency Medical Education?

Digital media has become the next frontier in medical education, and has grown exponentially over the past few years as new technologies in knowledge translation become available. Recently, a study of 226 Emergency Medicine residents demonstrated that 98% of those interviewed used some form of social media for learning, including blogs, podcasts, vodcasts, Twitter, and Google Hangouts (Scott, 2014). Additionally, a study done in the USA showed that Emergency Medicine residents prefer listening to podcasts (70%), over reading textbooks (54.3%), for their learning (Mallin, 2014).

The idea of “asynchronous education”—that learners can use recent patient encounters or prompts to guide their supplemental reading and learning—is garnering more and more attention. Asynchronous education allows a variety of modalities of teaching, including peer-to-peer learning, which are student centered, and shown to be not only preferred by learners, but also more effective (Mallin, 2014). Although new to the medical education world, asynchronous education has been adopted into other educational sectors to great success. The Khan Academy is arguably one of the most successful applications of digital technologies to advance personalized education, in the model of the “flipped classroom.” As described by Prober et. al.(2013), the flipped classroom employs digital technologies to allow students to watch vodcasts (online videos) on their own time, as many times as needed to achieve mastery, then utilize classroom time to apply said learning. To that effect, these technologies are providing residents with resources to personalize their clinical learning, and achieve mastery on their own time, can create a flipped-classroom type experience on the wards and in the Emergency Department, as with the guidance of clinician teachers they would be able to apply their knowledge to patient care. (Prober, 2013)

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The Plan: A Digital Scholarship Elective

This Digital Scholarship block provides me with an opportunity to explore the fundamentals of curriculum design, in the context of my existing interests in social media and digital educational resources. Using antibiotic choices as a theme (a self-identified area of clinical weakness), I am spending one month developing a mini-curriculum on common presentations of infection to the ED, and an approach to antibiotic choices.

For this project, I will be moving through the 6 steps of curriculum development, as defined by Kern et al.:

  1. Problem identification and general needs assessment
  2. Needs assessment for targeted learners
  3. Goals and Objectives
  4. Educational strategies
  5. Implementation
  6. Evaluation and feedback

Through this elective I will be able to better understand medical education and the process of curriculum development, as well as hopefully create some resources around antibiotic choices in the ED that fellow learners will find useful.

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The Product: Social Media based curriculum on antibiotic choices in the ED

Designed for the medical student and junior resident level, this curriculum will be predominantly online-based, including short chalk talks, blog posts and pocket cards on 5 common outpatient infectious disease presentations to the ED:

  1. Community acquired pneumonia
  2. UTI
  3. STI
  4. Skin and soft tissue infections
  5. Diabetic foot

Hosted on, where the majority of viewers are learners in Emergency Medicine, I will be able to receive peer review and feedback on these resources once they are posted.

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Cadogan M, Thoma B, Chan TM, et al. Emerg Med J Published Online First: [ 04 September 2014] doi:10.1136/emermed-2013-203502.

Kern DE, et al. Curriculum Development for Medical Education- A Six-Step Approach. Baltimore. Johns Hopkins University Press. 1998.

Mallin, Mike, Sarah Schlein, Shaneen Doctor, Susan Stroud, Matthew Dawson, and Megan Fix. “A Survey of the Current Utilization of Asynchronous Education Among Emergency Medicine Residents in the United States.” Academic Medicine 89.4 (2014): 598-601. Web.

Prober, Charles G., and Salman Khan. “Medical Education Reimagined.” Academic Medicine 88.10 (2013): 1407-410. Web.

Scott KR, Hsu CH, Johnson NJ, Mamtani M, Conlon LW, DeRoos FJ. “Integration of Social Media in Emergency Medicine Residency Curriculum.” Annals of Emergency Medicine (2014): n. pag. Web.

Thoma, B., Chan, T., Desouza, N., & Lin, M. (2013). Implementing peer review at an emergency medicine blog: bridging the gap between educators and clinical experts. CJEM, 16, 21-24.


How you can help:

Alia Dharamsi is a PGY1 in Emergency Medicine at the University of Toronto, conducting a quality improvement project with BoringEM on the application of social media technologies to resident learning. This project has been granted REB exemption from the Hamilton Integrated REB (HIREB).

She is exploring resident comfort, knowledge around antibiotic choices, and their usage resources to guide choice of antibiotics at the bedside.

The main objective is to understand current patterns of use of resources to learn about antibiotic choices before, after, and during an ED shift, and then see if social media learning materials (e.g. #FOAMed) has a role in filling knowledge gaps for learners.

This survey is SHORT (5 minutes), anonymous, and voluntary. She is specifically interested in answers from junior residents (R1, R2), and CC4s.


Please feel free to share with your residency program.

Alia Dharamsi

Alia Dharamsi is an Emergency Physician at the UHN and St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. Her interests include simulation, prehospital medicine, and educational innovation. In her spare time you can find her on her bike, in the lake, or on a mountain!
BoringEM has been 'bringing the boring' to emergency medicine since 2012. In 2016 this Canadian blog brought its content to CanadiEM.