Computers and phones have transformed how we communicate with the world around us, be it talking with friends, sharing a photo, or keeping up with current events. Yet when it comes to education, computers often play a secondary role. That is starting to change. Programs likeOnline University have enabled hundreds of thousands of students to take part in high quality, university level courses from their home computers all around the world. The medical community, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, has adopted the use of webinars to help disseminate online courses intended to help foster continuing education among its network of physicians. More recently, we saw the launch of a national online course developed byPEMNetwork to enhance the standardization of Pediatric Emergency Medicine training.
State of the union
Online learning—especially in medicine—is still in its infancy as most of us learn in traditional ways. Early adopters of this form of communication have taken to prerecorded programs such as podcasts to relay their message. Although it has its advantages (making the morning commute more enlightening), this passive form of learning lacks the community and discourse that often accompanies a live presentation.
Straight to the source
I recently surveyed fellowship directors from ACGME accredited PEM fellowship programs and asked for their input regarding a live, online lecture series focused on PEM topics. Out of 32 respondents, 31 directors (97%) expressed interest in having their fellowship program participate in such a course and 28 (91%) were willing to host a lecture. There was equal interest for content in the topic areas of innovation/research, core education, subspecialties, and updated guidelines.
Here we go
As a current PEM fellow, I have vested interest in fellow education. As a pediatrician and father, I also see value in knowledge sharing for the benefit of all those who care for children. Therefore, I am proposing “PEM Virtual Grand Rounds”—a national live webcast with lectures hosted by a rotating group of PEM fellowship programs that are available to PEM fellows, faculty, and other interested parties across the nation. Speakers would be PEM physicians, or physicians in PEM related fields, that have expertise in their topic of choice. The live webcast format would facilitate opportunity for thoughtful discussion, encourage a stronger community of PEM fellowship programs, and perhaps even help to develop collaboration among course participants. With direct lectureship to trainees and practicing physicians, we can help to decrease the knowledge translation gap that exists from evidence to practice in an efficient and broad reaching manner.
Where do we go from here
Over the next months and years, I will work towards creating this online community of learning for PEM providers. I foresee many challenges, such as funding and scheduling. However, I am encouraged by the large amounts of support and interest I have already received. The challenges and successes I encounter in creating this project will be shared here in regular blog posts. I am also interested in hearing from those of you who would like to collaborate, offer feedback, or contribute lectures. With PEM Virtual Grand Rounds I believe we can enhance PEM education by taking advantage of current technology to quickly and conveniently share knowledge within the field.