Cardiology Information Online: Only a Heartbeat Away

With rapid advances in technology transforming how we share and receive information, the way physicians in every discipline learn is changing as well. For visually oriented fields such as cardiology, residents and fellows rely more on online resources, where images and video can be instantly shared and updated. McGraw-Hill Education spoke with Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, Director of Mount Sinai Heart and Physician-in-Chief, The Mount Sinai Hospital; and cardiology fellows Hadi Halazun, Robert Kleiner, and Crystal Angstrom, as well as Dr. Robert Harrington, Chairman of the Department of Medicine at Stanford University, about the challenges medical educators face when teaching future physicians, and how faculty can adapt to overcome these challenges.

Dr. Fuster says he has seen learning patterns change since information is readily available through a simple Google search, but challenges still remain. “People don’t like to read anymore,” he says. “The problem is, how can you manage this advancing knowledge when you’re reading less and less? So we have to invent new approaches for education, and this is the challenge we have today.”

Dr. Fuster, Dr. Harrington, and other physicians see their students relying on online tutorials, meetings, and other online interactions in their search for information. “One of the aspects that is being used more and more is social media,” Dr. Fuster says. “There are pros and cons, but it is something that can be helpful. Some people are really attached to it, and this is where they are learning and experiencing the best methods.” According to Dr. Harrington, students “can engage in social media experiences where they exchange information with colleagues, perhaps even from around the globe. The didactics of cardiovascular medicine are clearly changing, are becoming more timely, and are becoming more fast paced.”

Listen to Dr. Robert Harrington, editor of Hurst’s The Heart, speak about practice changing guidelines in cardiology:

 

Dr. Fuster sees the value in educational resources that can be frequently updated because he believes “The process of education is forever.”

“Therefore, the fellows should know that it’s not that you have to learn everything today, because you’re going to miss something,” he says. “In fact, it is a continuous process. And then the fellows I think have to be very creative because whatever is true today and appears to be dogma, it will not be tomorrow. So you have to have a very open mind, very flexible, and what we do, at least I feel very strong about it, is we try to teach concepts of trends rather than spending a lot of time with minutiae because this changes constantly. So I think that there are new ways to approach education, which is very much conceptual.”

Social media has advanced new concepts of learning in a way that didn’t exist in the past, according to Dr. Fuster. “There’s no question…if you were asking me ‘What about 15 years ago?’ but today it’s completely different. The interaction between the fellows is tremendous today, much more than years ago. I think the social media helps—it’s a culture, basically. But this culture is transmitted inside an institution and it happens constantly so, I think it’s a huge change.”

Dr. Fuster’s cardiology fellows are all users of social media and smartphone-related apps, which they feel are integral components in their learning and search for information.

“I think that we’ve been very lucky in training this time through social media as well as particular apps we have on our phone. It’s easier to access information and to get that information so that we can apply it clinically to our patients,” Dr. Kleiner says. “I think it’s also helpful in terms of research and contacting other colleagues at different institutions to facilitate research and other projects.”

Dr. Halazun says the rise of social media and apps related to everything, not just medicine. “We have so much data, so much information that’s coming in… but we’ve become accustomed to information overload, as you would say in other venues in our life, so it’s something that we’ve been adapted to—our generation, at least.”

And accessing information at the point of care through smartphones and apps has become a way of life for physicians. “The access is very easy nowadays because you can search for anything electronically, you can get information quickly electronically, and sort of take what you need, take the information you need, and it’s definitely more accessible than it used to be,” Dr. Angstrom says.

And social media has made it easier for physicians to get reliable information from trusted sources such as other colleagues. “Certainly in other med schools, certainly in other parts of the country, it’s easier to access that information peer to peer,” Dr. Halazun says. “The vetting process of what information is useful tends to be if you know someone at a reputable institution. You don’t necessarily have to know that individual personally but if you have an online or social media relationship with that person, you can trust them. So now the vetting is easier and more personalized than before.”

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