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Keeping Up to Date


A session on building a program for life long learning for Scientific Overviews in Epidemiology, Master of Public Health Program, University of Toronto. April 2010

A session on building a program for life long learning for Scientific Overviews in Epidemiology, Master of Public Health Program, University of Toronto. April 2010

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  • LLL= life long learning
  • -Goal ‘maintain current awareness in my field’ is WAY too broad, needs some parameters. -Could be something concrete like “read everything by my supervisor” or something like “stay current with three top journals in the field” -gaps “ you don’t know what you don’t know ”, but could come across questions or read in the lit something you are unfamiliar with. ‘managing IP team’
  • Write them down! Couple of minutes
  • Activities to match your goals. Pull vs. Push You go to them vs. them coming to you. Favourites = find out while at U of T, talk to colleagues/professors
  • Turn Goals into activity
  • Can be once per day, once per week, in the morning when you get to work, or Sunday evening with a glass of wine. Don’t just skim and delete Daily emails is temporary, you will fall behind
  • After 1 month critically evaluate success of goals and activities. Are you actively checking your feed reader or do you need email to come to you? Are your emails being deleted without being red due to volume?
  • Back to the activity part of Current Awareness. One method is by capturing RSS feeds in a feed reader. How many are familiar with RSS? 3 min video. Watch video only if people are not sure about RSS
  • All you need is a google account
  • Sign up separately
  • Easy to use or you won’t use it!
  • Add feeds for grey lit as well as professional journals
  • You can also add feeds for blogs. You may wish to create folders in your feed reader separating out the blog from the journals, from the personal interest content.
  • In databases like Pubmed or Pubget. Or U of T subscribed databases. No RSS feeds in Google Scholar, Bing, or Scirus
  • Use Clinical Queries for Evidence-based searching. Use reg. Pubmed for everything.
  • Demo RSS feed: add to your feed reader, Saved Search, sign up for my NCBI. Email alerts. Pros and cons of both.
  • NOT Patient Smith, unless that case is a particularly meaningful one. Not by date either.
  • NCBI email alerts feature for saved searches…
  • New tool, links you up with PDFs or at the very least article summaries. Video on the site for those who are interested.
  • Demo with gmail account Another automated option is BMJ Updates - a product of the Health Information Research Unit at McMaster. Here you can search for articles on a topic, or register for e-mail pushes on your specialty. Physicians who are in general practice or primary care, internal medicine or its subspecialties are invited to register their interests so that they can receive email alerts and searching access for literature that is matched to their personal clinical interests.
  • General specialty areas, not a search like Pubmed. You can change the frequency so you get them daily, every few days, or weekly. The contents are systematically screened for both relevance and newsworthiness and you can specify what level of each you’re interested in.
  • Newsworthiness– can be less ‘newsworthy’ as you are starting out, need to be more newsworthy as you become an expert in your field.
  • Sample email alert
  • Example of what it looks like
  • Use each journal’s site or TicTOCs: Add your favourite journals to one site, check for all TOCs. Just another option.
  • Big FIVE medicine journals as well
  • If it’s a top journal, this does not apply. If it is a website, it does. Relevance: one goal might be management of an IP team, may not be covered by a PH journal. Find a management journal instead.
  • Scam ads– if a source you perceive as reliable has shady advertising or pop-ups, don’t hesitate to contact them. May be willing to remove offending ads.
  • Patients also face problems around critical evaluation of sources My favorite site: medline plus. From the states BUT there isn’t a great canadian alternative, unfortunately -Check with your local public library for recommendations. Upon starting in a community, one of the first things you should do.


  • 1. Keeping Up to Date Allison Bell Gerstein Science Library April 8, 2010 [email_address]
  • 2. Learning Objectives
    • Learn to create and maintain a personal program to keep up to date and enhance professional competence
    • Look at options and tools for keeping up to date
    • Discuss methods to evaluate information sources
        • Personal
        • Client/Patient
  • 3. Practical methods for LLL
    • Good current awareness programs are:
    • Efficient, preferably AUTOMATED “Set it and forget it ”
    • Focused on your highest priorities
    • Manageable (you can make time to read what arrives)
  • 4. Develop a Current Awareness Program
    • Set Goals
    • Choose Activities
    • Evaluate Success
    • Re-tool if necessary
  • 5. First: Set Goals
    • What news do I need to hear in order to do my job properly?
    • What news do I need to hear in order to keep up to date with my professional development?
    • Knowledge gaps
    • What am I passionately interested in knowing more about?
  • 6. Think of some current awareness goals for yourself. What are they?
  • 7. Second: Develop Activities
    • Browser ‘Favourites’ or Bookmarks
    • RSS
    • Email Alerts
    • TOC Alerts
  • 8. Turn Each Goal into Activity
    • Example:
    • GOAL: Read everything new that comes out about the Gardasil vaccine
    • ACTIVITY: Set up an automated search or RSS feed in Pubmed for any new articles on the Gardasil/HPV vaccine
  • 9. Key to Success:
    • Make time in your schedule!
  • 10. Third: Evaluate Effectiveness
    • Too much? Too little? Bad/no results?
    • Missing anything?
    • Adjust, then try again
  • 11. Intro to RSS
  • 12. RSS: Feed Readers
    • Google Reader
  • 13. RSS: Feed Readers
    • Bloglines
  • 14. RSS: Others…
    • Awasu (free online)
    • FeedReader (free download)
    • NewsGator FeedDemon (plugin for Outlook)
    • Choose one that you find easy to use, easy to remember
  • 15. Add RSS Feeds
  • 16. Grey Lit/Gov Docs
    • Look for RSS symbol on Government websites…
  • 17. CDC Emergency Updates
  • 18. Feeds for Blogs
  • 19. Automated Searches
    • Perform search
    • Look for ‘Save Search’ button
  • 20. Keeping Current Using Pubmed
    • RSS or Automated Searches
    • Clinical Queries (for evidence based results)
    • Regular Pubmed search (for all results)
  • 21. Automated Searches Using Clinical Queries
  • 22. Create RSS feed or Save Search
  • 23. Saved Pubmed Search Name it something meaningful
  • 24. Email Alerts: Pubmed Change the frequency, day of the week, format of delivery to suit your preferences. Your email address here…
  • 25. PubGet http://
  • 26. RSS: PubGet
  • 27. Email Alerts: Evidence Updates http:// /
  • 28.  
  • 29. Email Alerts: Evidence Updates
  • 30. Email Alert Example
  • 31. TOC alerts
    • Can be via email or RSS depending on the journal.
    • You do not need to subscribe to the journal
    “ Each feed lists the contents of the latest issue, with article summaries”
  • 32. TOCs through RSS
  • 33. TOCs through Email
  • 34. TicTOCS
    • http:// /
  • 35.  
  • 36. Keeping Current: Where to start?
    • American Journal of Epidemiology
    • American Journal of Public Health
    • Annual Review of Public Health
    • Epidemiologic reviews
    • Health Affairs
    • International Journal of Epidemiology
    • Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP)
    More titles in the Public Health Research Guide:
  • 37. Be Picky when Picking Sources
    • Pick professional sources for….
    • Reliability (both content AND schedule)
    • Can it deliver in a set-and-forget mode?
    • Relevance to your learning GOALS
  • 38. Critical Evaluation of Web Sources
    • More advertising= be more wary!
      • Pop ups? ‘Scam’ Ads?
    • Statements of responsibility, credentials
    • Quality of content, interface
    • How current?
    • Personal information collected/used?
  • 39. What about your clients?
    • Some considerations:
    • Pick patient information sources for…
      • Quality (reflect latest/best knowledge)
      • Readability (consider levels, language)
      • Usability/learning styles (Interactive? Print?)
  • 40. Free Consumer Health Sources
    • Toronto Public Library Health Information: http:// /
  • 41. Questions?
  • 42. Contact Info
    • [email_address]
    • [email_address]