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Staying Updated on Medical Literature and the Associated Challenges
PracticeUpdate: Dr. Grant, why is it important for physicians to stay on top of new developments in the medical literature?
Dr. Michael Grant: I think it's more important than ever now and really tremendously important for practicing physicians to stay on top of the medical literature, really in all fields, just because with the resources that are available and the continuous publications, conference abstracts, press releases, it just really becomes important to provide the best care to patients that you're going to see in the clinic every day. As we saw, I think COVID was a really good example of that because we saw data coming at us from all angles, from all different venues and resources, and having the skill to synthesize that information which may change your practice on a dime is really important, especially in a situation that's dynamic like that. But it turns out that that's really how modern medicine is practiced.
There could be practice-changing information and data that come out that we need to adapt to. And in order to provide the best care for patients, you need to really process that. So, I think it's more important than ever.
PracticeUpdate: What makes this so challenging?
Dr. Grant: It's really more challenging than ever too, because of all of that data. It's really like you can be inundated with all of the studies that are coming out that would potentially impact your practice.
I think the other challenges with it are just, it's tough to develop a method for yourself to filter out information and to choose the resources that you find most fitting, most helpful to you. It's a process, and I think it probably takes a long time still definitely developing that process. But a major challenge is having the skills to organize this information and catalog it and keep a file so that you can always go back and reference studies that have come out that you found interesting at the time, but maybe weren't applicable to certain patients that you were seeing.
So, yeah, the challenge is really just so many mediums. And that includes organizations that filter this information and synthesize the data and summarize. It includes social media where people post primary articles and also opinions about them in patient cases. So, I think those are definitely very difficult and tremendously tough to digest mediums, where there can be a ton of information and it can be very valuable, but it can also be overwhelming.
PracticeUpdate: How can medical schools be involved in this process?
Dr. Grant: Going even further back in the process, I think in order for us to be able to do that and to have the skills to do that, medical curricula in medical school, it's more important now than ever to teach evidence-based medicine and to teach a process of going through different types of studies, and really even teaching organizational skills that would help to lead to a good practice going forward where you can process all of this information and implement it in your clinical practice.
This is something that I feel very strongly about is that there are some things in the medical curriculum coming up, starting in medical school and throughout all of training, residency training, specialty training, that may be not so relevant but are relics of past or traditional training. But I think the more that practical processing of primary data is implemented at any stage is really important.
And I give a lot of credit to the people who run those courses and who develop the curricula because it's not something that's easy to teach. It's a skill that needs to be properly curated and is not so much that you can really read an article and then know exactly how to understand data in front of you. So, I think more education that relates to the synthesis and the understanding of medical literature is something that's extremely valuable and should really be a major skill that's taught.