Keeping a Current State of Mind: Independent Medical Education

A brilliant oncologist recently explained that she physically cannot see more patients during her daily rounds and outpatient schedule. It is not feasible to maintain the caliber of quality medical care she wants to provide and also increase the quantity of patients seen during her day—something that the new owners of her hospital do not fully appreciate. She was asked, “How do you manage an ever-increasing expectation to ‘produce’ more and yet stay current with independent medical education amidst an ever-evolving nexus of medical information?” Her sigh in reply said it all.

In 2009, the 50 million mark was passed with regard to the number of scientific papers published since 1665, and approximately 2.5 million new papers are now being published each year. Moreover, there are more than 28,100 active scholarly peer-reviewed journals, and the number of publishing scientists continues to increase at a clip of 4% to 5% per year—likely due to the pressure to “publish or perish,” which is the norm in today’s university setting. Of note, the number of biased and foundationally weak medical journals continues to rise, and with the ability of opinion articles and blog posts to cite such publications, the need for robust aggregators of true peer-reviewed material continues to be paramount.

Consider, too, how long it takes the current body of medical knowledge to double. The pace in 1950 was every 50 years; in 1980, it was 7 years. The 2010 pace was 3.5 years, and by 2020, it is forecasted to double every 0.2 years—which is just 73 days! Specifically, a student who began medical school back in 2010 will have experienced 3 doublings of medical knowledge by the time they finish their 7 years of minimum training. These are our graduates today, and with the pace only increasing, it is important that they are proactive to stay current with independent medical education and avoid the sigh my oncology colleague recently displayed.

Despite this shockingly fast cadence in medical discovery and an expectation to maintain an up-to-date knowledge base, there is good news. Thoughtful and clever dedication has led to a number of efficient platforms to enable today’s healthcare professionals (HCPs) to stay apprised of the most relevant medical news and training. The associated portfolio of platforms is diverse and allows medical learners to pick the best fit for their particular uptake style, participation availability, and networking preferences. Importantly, as technology has sped up the pace of medical discovery, it has also led to significant enhancements to help HCPs stay current with independent medical education.

Best-in-Class Educational Platforms

Continuity is key, and when IME providers are able to provide a sequence of learning modules that both build on one another and incorporate the latest trends in the market, learners can feel confident that they’re getting timely and applicable content.  Some of the most interesting and effective educational platforms include:

  1. Interactive Live Events: Inventive training activities and peer-to-peer collaborations are available on 5 continents. This is the ultimate way to network live with scientific champions, engage in think tanks, and learn about what technologies and agents are on the horizon.
  2. Engaging Webinars: These sessions connect learners and faculty worldwide through dynamic virtual interactions with both peers and thought leaders. Expect patient case studies, voting polls, live surgeries, and a host of additional ways in which communication technology can make it feel like you are seated next to your colleagues.
  3. Expert Conference Coverage: Get new data and insights at today’s digital speed. Breaking clinical study results and interim analysis announcements are now conveyed in real time to deliver optimized clinical impact without delay.
  4. On-Demand eLearning: Answers to today’s complex clinical questions are available with just a click. Healthcare professionals create the time when it’s convenient for them in any space and access engaging content that is meant to impress, as well as educate and test.

These platforms are specifically designed to facilitate whatever immersion level and time commitment an HCP desires. As time becomes more limited, a learner would only need to choose another option and simply progress from 1 through 5 to arrive at a more individually focused way to stay current with independent medical education.

There is no question that the current momentum in medical discovery and innovation will only increase. It is important that ardent and dedicated HCPs establish a solid foundation of ongoing learning, as it is the incorporation of this evolving knowledge that will enhance their ability to treat patients and ultimately improve the efficacy of their medical care.