Tip of the week: Pick a journal club format that best meets your goals

Residency Program Insider, February 22, 2011

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Many programs have not established goals for their journal clubs. Having clear goals and learning objectives ensures that the journal club is explicitly tied to the rest of the program’s curriculum.

The program director, in conjunction with faculty and resident leaders, should write the goals and objectives that clarify expectations and help residents understand what they should be learning in these sessions. When developing goals and objectives, consider the following:

  • What do you want this new journal club to achieve?
  • What other ways does the program teach EBM, critical appraisal, and biostatistics?
  • Is this the only time residents will review articles for scientific credibility?

There are several journal club formats to choose from, depending on your goals. Consider the following formats:

  • Experimental design. Discussion of the article focuses on the strengths and weaknesses of the experimental method. The advantage is that residents will learn how to frame research questions, but this can be a turnoff to trainees not interested in research.
  • Classical articles. Reviewing these articles gives trainees the historical background of their specialty and treatments. However, the articles can sometimes be outdated and may seem irrelevant to residents.
  • Debate. Two resident/attending teams debate a controversial topic in the field or opposing hypotheses, results, or conclusions presented in different articles.  Although this format stimulates critical thinking, it requires more preparation time than other formats.
  • Evidence-based. Residents receive clinical questions or problems prior to the discussion. Participants use EBM principles to locate and appraise the evidence and determine the best solution for a clinical situation. This format hits on many adult learning theory principles and is becoming very popular.

    This is an excerpt from Residency Program Alert.

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