Morsels and More: Online Educational Tools

Advanced PedsSean M. Fox, MD
Associate Professor
Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine
Department of Emergency Medicine
Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, NC


Learning Objectives:

1. Identify useful online resources that will assist you in staying up to date with Pediatric EM topics.

2. Discuss useful strategies to deliver this useful content in an organized fashion and avoid informational-overload.

The informational highway is getting faster every day. Staying on top of the most current topics and controversies is becoming increasingly difficult. While textbooks are invaluable resources, their materials are dated.  Even current journal articles can be yesterday’s news.  Even when you have the must current journal, finding time to actually go through it is challenging.

While the task of staying abreast of the current medical knowledge has always been a challenge, today there are a number of tools that can assist physicians with this need to be life-long learners.

Google is great, but…

  •  Have a wonderful ability to find information across the expanse of the internet.
  •  Often they offer a good starting point for answering a question, but have their downsides.
    •  Too much information.
    •  Often not answering the real question.
    •  Quality is quite variable.
    •  Can be manipulated by those who understand Search Engine Optimization.


PubMed or Google Scholar

  •  Freely accessible around the world.
  •  Google Scholar has been shown to be more utilized than PubMed.
  •  Google Scholar provided greater access to free full-text publications (5% vs 14%).
  •  PubMed only indexes peer reviewed biomedical literature.
  •  Google Scholar indexes a much wider variety of resources.


Academic Subscription Services

  • There are a number of truly excellent subscription services that can assist in the task.
  • Many deliver high quality, peer-reviewed content.
  • Some are supported by your individual institutions… which is nice!
  • Often rigid in the delivery of their respective content.
  • Their main downside is the cost.
  • Example:


Free Open Access Meducation – FOAM

  • Worldwide collaborative effort that utilizes a variety of media and resources.
    • Podcasts
    • Educational blogs (>230 blogs committed to FOAM)
    • Text documents
    • Videos and Photos
    • Google hangouts
    • Tweets and Social Media
    • Etc
  • It is versatile and can be personalized.
    • With some simple tools, you can tailor the educational experience to your needs.
    • As your needs evolve, you can adjust how you use and interact with the FOAM.
  • Diverse perspectives
    • Worldwide viewership leads to different vantage points.
    • Problems may be similar, but solutions can be varied.
  • It is Peer-Reviewed
    • A contentious topic, as the online realm is not subject to traditional “Peer-Review.”
    • Of course, journal “peer-review” has been subject to significant scrutiny as well.
    • Publication to the FOAM community is very much reviewed by our peers.
      • This process is what will assist us in navigating the infinite mass of information.
      • This process allows valuable items to rise to the top.
      • This process rapidly corrects errors (no waiting for the retraction in the next issue).
  • It is Free!
    • Just like the Hippocratic Oath stated that it should be:
    • Hippocratic Oath

“To hold him who taught me this art equally dear to me as my parents, to be a partner in life with him, and to fulfill his needs when required; to look upon his offspring as equals to my own siblings, and to teach them this art, if they shall wish to learn it, without fee or contract; and that by the set rules, lectures, and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the art to my own sons, and those of my teachers, and to students bound by this contract and having sworn this Oath to the law of medicine, but to no others. …”

“Professional” Media

  • Social Media avenues have proven to be very powerful worldwide.
  • Many resist using it, because of perceptions of the it conveying trivial information.
  • When used by professionals, it can be used to help filter, reinforce, and correct content.

Bedside and Clinical Shift Tools:

These are some online resources that many find useful for the quick refresher, re-learning, during the clinical shift.

RadiologyAssistant Pediatrics

LifeInTheFastLane PEM resources  – has various clinical references.


Journal Article Collators:

These services, which both offer app versions, allow the user to gain access to a vast array of medical journals.  By linking through your institutions affiliations, you now have the ability to quickly access the actual full text article.  Both have interfaces that allow for sorting, and filing, and generating collections of those that you find most interesting.

Read by Qx  – more focused on the medical journals and making as many available as possible (~6,300 journals)

DocWise  – mix of both healthcare news and medical journals (smaller journal selection, but increasing)

Continuing Education:

These sites deliver Ped EM specific content in within the realm of FOAM.

Emergency Bear Treats

PEMNetwork Blog PEM Xray Cases



RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and allows for you to have web sites of your choice deliver their latest news directly to your monitor.




Feed Readers:

Feed readers collate the RSS information and deliver the sources to you in a easy to digest fashion.  There are a number of different interfaces, each allowing you to tailor them to your personal liking.




Google Currents


LinkedIn Pulse



Shariff SZ, et al. Retrieving Clinical Evidence: A Comparison of PubMed and Google Scholar for Quick Clinical Searches. J Med Internet Res. Aug 2013; 15(8): e164.

Neill A, et al. The Impact of Social Media on a Major International Emergency Conference. Emerg Med J. Feb 19 2013; Epub ahead of print.

Cheston C, et al. Social Media Use in Medical Education: a Systematic Review. Acad Med. 2013; 88: 983-901.

Cheeseman SE. Communication and Collaboration Technologies. Neonatal Netw. Mar-Apr 2012; 31(2): 115-9.

Spallek H, et al. Paradigm Shift or Annoying Distraction Emerging Implications of Web 2.0 for Clinical Practice. Appl Clin Inform. 2010; 1(2): 96–115.

Leo GD, et al. Websites Most Frequently Used by Physicians for Gathering Medical Information. AMIA Annu Symp Proc. 2006; 2006: 902.

Casebeer L, et al. Physician Internet medical information seeking and on-line continuing education use patterns. J Contin Educ Health Prof. 2002 Winter;22(1):33-42.

2 Responses

  1. Michael DiStefano says:

    I am reaching out to you as member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Emergency Medicine (AAP SOEM) Committee of Quality Transformation (COQT). The COQT is looking at ways we can disseminate content that was created within the committee for those providers that take care of children in the ED settings. Your web site/twitter feed has a substantial following and we feel could reach those who would find these best practices and pathways most useful. Specifically, the COQT has developed a couple pathways (currently community acquired pneumonia and bronchiolitis) that are grounded in evidence and whose content was produced by experts in the field. We are hoping to partner with you to provide content to your followers and improve health outcomes for children.

    Michael DiStefano, MD

    • Sean Fox says:

      Dr. DiStefano,
      Great to hear from you! Certainly I am excited at the prospect of helping to promote best practices to ensure excellent care for children everywhere.

      I will email directly from another account.
      Have a great day,

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