Monday, May 14, 2012

21st Century Textbook - Navigating EM Blogs As a Med Student

The Gist:  Warning!  Emergency Medicine blogs are an addictive supplement to both basic science and clinical medical education.  Subscribe to some of the following blogs to learn some medicine, prepare for the boards, and stay well-read with minimal effort.  Start with Life in the Fast Lane (LITFL).

Aren't blogs nerdy?  Perhaps, but they're engaging, intriguing, and relevant.  Moreover, if you read via an RSS feed app on your phone, nobody will ever know.
  • You will probably find yourself surpassing your peers in clinical knowledge and mitigate some of need to study from dry, cumbersome books that are antiquated even prior to purchase.  
  • This information is not in FirstAid for the USMLE.  Trust me: you, your board score, your clerkship evaluation, and your patients' care/experience will be augmented by reading these blogs.  
  • Also, EM blogs will help you maintain your enthusiasm about the profession when docs bash the profession as a bunch of mere "meat movers" and when you're on less preferred clerkships. 
How do I get into all this RSS and Blog Business, technically speaking?  Well, it's Really Simple Syndication and it's easy...
Here's a codified medical student based approach...a fundamental framework to this crazy intellectual world, not an exhaustive list (which you can find at LITFL here).
  • The list below may seem long but it really doesn't take much time to go through these as they roll in...just substitute Facebook/Words With Friends/Draw Something, etc with blog reading.
  • Copious blogs exist to sate various appetites.  For example, I don't read many of the narrative style blogs but there are a plethora on the web.  
  • Additionally, I'm not covering the blogs associated with particular podcasts here, see this post instead.  
  • Many students have found the below list to be overwhelming and have asked for a starting point.  First, check out:  Life in the fast LaneAcademic Life in Emergency Medicine, Boring EM and  EM Lit of Note .  Before long, you'll be wanting more. 
Lazy/Austere Approach:
  • LITFL has a regular review in which they summarize the latest news/information in the EM blog world in a single digest.
  • has a comprehensive RSS Feed.  One is also available on the SMARTFOAM iPhone application.
For the pragmatist seeking clinical knowledge:
  • Academic Life in Emergency Medicine - Incredible series of regular posts including "Tricks of the Trade" and "Paucis Verbis" (PV) cards.  PV cards are designed in a concise format designed to carry on the go in mobile format (via Evernote) or printed out on note cards.  These are amazing, practical references for medical students.
  • St. Emlyn's This is a new-ish blog that is really rather excellent. Frequent blog posts typically cover topics in Evidence Based Medicine or review journal articles relevant to Emergency Medicine.  The posts are entertaining and insightful.  
  • Boring EM - all the EM basics as well as some mentorship posts. 
  • EMDose This blog proffers regular synopsis of various medical conditions in concise, referenced format. It's a great, quick read for review!  (Who needs board studying?)
  • EM Lyceum - This is a monthly blog in which a clinical topic and questions are posed at the beginning of the month with answers to follow.  Basic, easy to read, and at once a month...why not? 
  • PedEM Morsels - A weekly email addressing a single topic, loaded with pearls and totally relevant for medical students.
Are you a case based learner?  There are plenty of blogs for that, too:
  • LITFL Cases in Clinical Medicine is a continuously growing bank of cases with a brief introduction and a Q&A series on the topic.  The Q&A portion is great as it encourages one to think about the answer prior to revealing the answer (active learning?!).  These are amazing and sorted by discipline.
  • Weekly ECG cases and explanations from ECG master Dr. Amal Mattu
  • Receiving - They do a great job of typically presenting a case with history, physical, and pertinent findings and is followed by a series of questions.
  • Broome Docs - Mostly case scenarios that ponder clinically important teaching points and review relevant literature. 
  • TJDogma - Case based snippets on common (and some uncommon) ED presentations.
Looking to stay on top of literature?
  • Emergency Medicine Literature of Note is a blog in which Dr. Ryan Radecki posts a very succinct, digestible analysis of a recent medical journal articles.  This blog really inspires (and teaches) one to assess, analyze, and interpret studies/papers in medical literature - an invaluable skill! 
  • LITFL produces R&R in the Fastlane, which summarizes the noteworthy, bizarre, and practice changing literature highlighted by greats in the EM world.
  • Resus M.E! - Dr. Cliff Reid  picks through journal articles on a regular basis making it easy to stay current with reading.
  • Richard Lehman's Weekly Review of Medical Journals from the BMJ.  Most of the BMJ blogs are good so subscribing to the bundle is well worth it - Lehman's, however, is definitely great as he interprets highlights in the major medical journals (NEJM, JAMA, Lancet. BMJ, Ann of Internal Med, etc)
  • Sinai EM Media Site - This blog is a necessary adjunct to anyone who follows EM podcasts.  The substance is often random but the information is useful.
  • The Poison Review - This is a toxicology based blog that's important, relevant, and very well done.
  • PEMLit - In-depth reviews of pediatric literature
Special Interests:
ECGs -  important, very well done by the master Dr. Amal Mattu and on Dr. Smith's ECG Blog 
Ultrasound - SonoSpot by Dr. Laleh Gharahbaghian provides excellent tips and tricks on EM Ultrasound, frequently within a case context.  Sinai Emergency Medicine Ultrasound
  • Emergency Medicine PharmD - Pharmacology is a weakness for me, this blog is interesting, informative, and often has great pearls on tox and pharmacology.  
  • EMNerd - A new blog tackling some controversies in EM through analyzing the literature.
  • Emergency Medicine Ireland -Awesome anatomy videos that are downloadable via iTunes and reviews/interpretation of current journal articles.  
  • The Trauma Professionals Blog - A mixture of cases, pearls, and articles. 
  • MDAware Dr. Seth Trueger shares evidence and opinions on EM issues that are often quite helpful (Delayed Sequence Intubation, Urine Drug Screens, etc).  
  • Most journals have an RSS feed for current issues or online first issues that make it easy to peruse abstracts for interesting articles.  Click on the RSS feed and then copy the URL that appears and paste this under the "Subscribe" button in Google Reader.
There are literally hundreds of incredible blogs; my personal list grows on a weekly basis.  I know I've left some great ones out (some intentionally to keep the list short and some on accident).... so get out there...explore..learn something!


  1. Hi Lauren,

    Thanks for the mention, in return the stemlyns team would like to say that we are stunned by the quality of your blog. Although you are very kind in recommending others we must say that you are producing some fantastic stuff yourself.

    Keep up the good work, we will be reading.

    Simon C in Virchester

  2. Hi Lauren

    This site is a veritable treasure trove- a tour de force of inspired thinking!
    I am profoundly impressed at your cogent thinking , and analysis of such nebulous concepts of metacognition-to allude to merely one. Aluta continua for such inspired pedagogues as yourself.



  3. Strategies on how to write a medical school personal statement that will make you stand out from the crowded field of applicants and get you admitted to medical school. A preview: Focusing on your passions and motivations, rather than your "me-too" activities, is the best way to create a persuasive personal statement. See more event management personal statement