Today's medical resident has access to information in more forms than ever before. To learn about a given disease entity, there are many options to turn to—pocket manuals, textbooks, the peer-reviewed medical literature, residency-specific housestaff primers, websites, and other online resources. While this information quarry is richer than ever before and the ability to mine it is increasingly easy, it has also become increasingly challenging to identify the true “pearls” that one can take forward into practice.
However, one of the most important jobs of medical residents is to do exactly that, and then to pass these pearls onto medical students, interns, and junior residents in a succinct and organized fashion—not to mention semi-spontaneously on morning rounds when a patient with a relevant teaching point presents overnight. As house officers, we found the challenge of doing all of this to be frequently so daunting that teaching too often was sacrificed for “efficiency.” Despite all the available resources to help us learn, we found none that could reliably help us teach.
The following, then, is our answer, born over our kitchen table at home. For each of 10 medical specialties, we have identified 10 topics that we feel are important to discuss on rounds, with each topic given its own card. We further categorized the teaching topics into specific categories (Diagnostic Approach, Treatment Approach, Disease Classification, Evidence-Based Medicine, Pathophysiology, or Physical Examination), so that discussions can also be chosen by teaching content.
On the first side of every card is a visual aid, central to the topic at hand, to be presented to the learner(s). The back side has a question-and-answer format for the teacher to guide the discussion, hitting on the key pearls we believe to be most important. A section of the question-and-answer side is highlighted; this section refers most directly to the image on the front, and in a time-crunch, the lesson can be limited to this section alone. Our aim is that each highlighted portion takes 2 to 3 minutes to teach, while the entire card can be taught in less than 10. Although each card contains all of the information to present a given topic, we recommend that the teacher review the card prior to rounds, both to become familiar with the image and flow of the discussion, as well as to personalize the teaching experience.