…it has taken me far too long to discover the massive learning and sharing resource that is social media. Sure, I have had a Twitter and Facebook accounts for some years now and used the latter quite regularly, but only for exchanging ‘chit-chat’. Then I had a moment of enlightenment in February of this year when I discovered Twitter.
I had struggled to understand the advantages of Twitter, and certainly was not wanting to follow the Tweets of ‘celebrities’, so had not really used it properly. I think to the newbie it is not an intuitive process and takes some getting used to, but I think it is well worth becoming familiar with. Some YouTube videos helped me to start with.
Once I grasped the ideas behind Twitter I found myself becoming engrossed in the stream of information coming my way. I decided on the areas of interest and identified those people on Twitter who were tweeting matters of interest. As a consequence I think I have learned more in two months than I did in two years.
So what goldmines of learning have I discovered? Let’s start with SMACC as this seems to helpfully sum up the whole principle. SMACC stands for Social Media and Critical Care and they had their conference in Sydney in March 2013. I hope they will forgive me if I use their words to sum up what they stand for:
“SMACC is the most exciting innovation in the critical care education calendar, bringing together all the Critical Care Specialties (Emergency Medicine, Anaesthesia, Rural GP’s, Retrieval medicine and Intensive Care) on a modern stage. Delegates will be able to interact face-to-face and online with the biggest names in web-based education. The enormous success of on-line learning platforms (‘lifeinthefastlane.com’, ‘intensivecarenetwork.com, and ‘emcrit.org’) is now being harnessed to provide this face-face critical care conference.”
Twitter proved its worth again during the conference as there was a constant stream of ‘pearls’ being produced as the presentations were being given. I look forward to SMACC 2014 (March 17-19, Brisbane).
SMACC also featured many of the people I have encountered on Twitter who have made such a difference to my learning. It is through their Twitter posts that I have come across the vast wealth of knowledge that is on the websites out there.
One of the first I have to mention is Life In The Fast Lane. This is a great website covering all manner of subjects, but one of the most useful features is the Life in the Fast Lane review which sums up a lot of the emergency and critical care medicine blogs out there. They pick out those blog posts which they think others should see. Useful in itself but also helps direct those interested to other blogs/websites.
So where else did Life in the Fast Lane take me? It took me to one of the websites I now visit most often, ultrasoundpodcast.com. Why do I keep going here? I loved the idea of being able to see my patients heart directly, and having watched a few of their podcasts I thought I would give it a go. It blew me away when I got my first parasternal long axis view of the heart! I was able to do it and as a consequence was able to evaluate my patients condition with more useful information. Since then I have been constantly sticking my probe on the patients chest, and am slowly beginning to master the other views. I am now also hoping to be able to do the FEEL course which will help me consolidate my skills. My ultimate aim is to get all the critical care practitioners using ultrasound regularly.
Dr Scott Weingart is an Emergency Department Intensivist (do we have such a thing over here?!) in New York. He caught my interest mainly because of his teaching on airway management. I think I have learned more from him then from anyone else on this crucial skill. to use his words:
The EMCrit Blog & Podcast will help make you a master resuscitationist.
- Translate complex critical care concepts to the bedside
- Learn to think better under stress
- Practice maximally aggressive care
- Relieve suffering in all of your patients
I cannot discuss the use of social media in my learning without mentioning YouTube. I use this all the time to try to learn almost anything!. Yes you have to be careful about what you are watching, but the same is true for all media, electronic or otherwise. There are some great resources on YouTube and my eventual aim is to try to log them into some sort of order depending on subject matter. If YouTube has one failing it is that organising the videos is not straightforward.
I am often blown away by what is available on the internet to make me a better practitioner, and for those that don’t take advantage of all it has to offer, well I hope I can convert you!