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PracticeUpdate: What resources do you use to help with processing medical literature?
Dr. Grant: What I've learned in the process of gathering all of this information, understanding it, processing it, and storing it, I think for me, and this has been the way that I've studied throughout training, is that if you use too many resources, then you really face the risk of spreading yourself thin and not mastering certain things. And so I tend to use probably less resources, but very well thought-out or resources that I've found to be very useful and frankly, for me not being super tech savvy, just easy to navigate. And so I think a couple of things that have been really helpful.
Organized online storage
I think storage is always an issue and making sure that you have organized storage.
So, if I, say, download the PDF of a manuscript, there are certain PDF viewers that have storage capacity and organizational capacity. And I think those can be very helpful just because it's not the days of file cabinets and printed primary articles. We're now able to store this information without having a room full of those cabinets. And so I think it's important to start from the beginning as an early trainee and start to develop that process. It changes over time, but I think at least working on it from an early stage is important.
Notes app: Evernote
Dr. Grant: The other thing that I find really useful is a notes app. So, having a notes app on the computer. I use Evernote. And it's useful and I probably don't use it to its maximum efficiency capacity, but I think it's useful because not only can you organize your schedule and make to-do lists and jot down things that come up on a daily basis, but you can also really organize your own processing of the medical literature.
So, you can bring in PDFs and annotate them in Evernote. And so that's what I find useful. You can also organize your information in notebooks. So, compartmentalize your life a little bit and use things for resources outside of medicine, but then have a compartment where your clinical practice is being developed basically.
Curated social media
I do use social media to navigate. I think the most important thing for me, because it wasn't so much like this when I first started on Twitter, but to really curate your list of people that you follow to the field that you're interested in and to keep that number manageable, because if you don't and you just continually expand the number of people that you follow, then your timeline will be populated with things that you may not find so useful on a daily basis.
And so I think discipline with regards to the followers that you have on Twitter and other social media sites. And there are definitely conversations that come up about certain people who have really high yield information relevant to specialties and other practices. And so I've curated my list over time with a lot of that information. And then you meet people and you find out that they're active on social media, and those are also ways to add to your timeline's, really, usefulness and the, I guess, the value of the information that's coming at you.
Track primary literature
And then the other thing that I've found really useful is to keep track of the primary literature, our organizations like PracticeUpdate, where information that comes out, you're getting information on a daily basis, it's summarized and you can read the synopsis of it to decide whether or not, "This is something that's really interesting that may be practice-changing. I should pull the article and read it for myself."
And so I think those are definitely extraordinarily useful. My practice is also pretty rich in GU oncology, so I'm always following the GU updates.
And I think the last thing that I find very useful is I have a tab, a favorites tab or bookmarks tab, on my internet browser. It links to the in press sites of, really, the most important journals for my practice. And so if I click there, it'll just take me to the articles that are just in press from those sites.
So, for example, Lancet Oncology, JAMA Oncology, New England Journal, Annals of Oncology, JTO for thoracic stuff. So, I think it only takes a few minutes to really spin through all of those sites and see what the most recent updates are, see if any articles are particularly pertinent to my everyday practice, or if something jumps out as really interesting. It really just comes down to efficiency and not having enough hours in the day to look at all the things that you want to look at. So, these methods have really helped me to hone in on high yield resources.