As physician, your education will never be complete. The sheer volume of new information available daily in the medical profession is overwhelming. You will want to develop a means of keeping yourself informed the major changes in the medical field, especially those most pertinent to your practice.
You will also be required to provide proof of your efforts to continue your medical education in order to maintain licensing, board certification, and hospital privileges. The credits are known as CME (continuing medical education) credits and are obtained by participating in selected conferences, sending in tests from some journals, and attending certain lectures or presentations.
Journals are the time-honored means for keeping the medical profession updated. The major ones are usually published by a professional medical organization and distributed to the members. Many have online websites.
The American Medical Association (AMA)
The Southern Medical Association (SMA)
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)
There are several sites which contain lists of medical associations. This is a good one by WebMD.
Keep in mind that as with anything else, simply because it is printed does not make it true or useful. Knowing how to review journal articles can be very important to you in your medical career, particularly if you will be dependent on the journals to keep you informed. Dr. Mayeaux has developed a flow sheet to guide residents in the steps of reviewing scientific articles. The link below will initiate the worksheet. It is particularly helpful if you have an article to review handy when you start the worksheet. If at any time during the process you wish to back up a step or change your answer, simply hit the back button on your browser.
Critical Appraisal Worksheet for Scientific Articles - EJ Mayeaux, Jr., MD, DABFP, FAAFP, Professor of Family Medicine, Clinical Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology modified from: Miser WF. Critical Appraisal of the Literature. J Am Board Fam Pract 1999; 12:315-33
Most professional medical organizations hold at least one major meeting each year for their members and others. This is a popular means of obtaining CME credits and exchanging ideas with distant colleagues. You can obtain information regarding CME conferences from several sources.The professional organizations you decide to join will provide you with information and usually a discount for the conferences they host. Most hospitals provide some form of assistance with CME, either by hosting conferences and lectures or by assisting with arrangements. You will also find that your name will quickly make it to the mailing lists once you have your medical degree. CME advertisements can make up the majority of your mail on some days.
Here's a sample listing of some CME conferences available in the coming year, organized by specialty.
The internet's usefulness to the medical profession is increasing daily. Websites exist for almost every conceivable purpose. Some are free of charge, others require a fee and/or registration. Many organizations limit full access to their websites to members only. Abstracts or full articles can be acquired online making the trip to a local medical library unnecessary.
There is a growing number of websites offering summarized medical news and the ability to customize the content to your particular interest. Most require registration and some require a fee. In some cases, it is possible to obtain CME credit through the website. There are also resources online, such as the AAFP, which will keep track of your CME credits for you. The following is a list of some of the more popular sites.
updated 6/7/05 - dlp