In this episode, I’ll discuss how to cheat at journal club (ethically) and still be able to sleep at night.
Whether you are a pharmacy student or resident looking for a good article for journal club, or a preceptor that wants to make sure journal club articles are high quality, this episode will be helpful to you.
All participants (pharmacists and students/residents) should benefit from attendance at journal club.
Students/residents benefit from learning how to place clinical trial results into the context of clinical practice.
Pharmacists & other Health Care Providers benefit from being exposed to high-quality articles they may not have otherwise encountered.
But selecting a high-quality article may be a challenge for many students/residents. I teach my students/residents how to ethically “cheat” at journal club to guarantee that they pick a high-quality article and have an advanced understanding of the importance of that article.
The “cheat” is this simple: always pick an article that has a letter to the editor that accompanies the article in the same edition it is published in.
You can be sure that an article selected in this manner will be significant and relevant to practice. Otherwise, the editors would not have invited expert opinion to accompany the article in the same edition.
There is another benefit of picking articles this way. The letter to the editor will help the student/resident put the results of the new study into context based on previous studies and figure out where the results fit in clinical practice. This will save the student or resident a lot of work researching the context to place the study in. For example, if the new article is about glucose control in the ICU, you can be sure that the letter to the editor will mention other landmark trials such as Van Den Berghe 2001 and NICE-SUGAR.
Once the article is selected, I tell my students/residents to present the article this way:
The introduction, methods (especially inclusion/exclusion criteria), demographics and results should be outlined for the audience. The student/resident should review the author’s discussion and conclusion and also be able to provide their own opinion/analysis of the study results and how to apply them to clinical practice.
The student/resident must avoid giving in-depth background information on common disease states/mechanisms of action that the pharmacist/HCP audience would reasonably be expected to know. For example, if the trial is about insulin dose in diabetes, don’t review the pathophysiology of diabetes or mechanism of action of insulin. However, if the article is the first ever DPP-IV inhibitor, then a brief review of this novel mechanism of action is indicated.
Personally, I think slide presentations are over doing it for journal club discussions. I have the student/resident prepare a 1 page maximum front & back handout to facilitate their presentation. No slide presentations are allowed.
Finally, I tell students/residents this: Their goal is to present the article in such a way that if an audience member did not read the article, they would still be able to enter into the discussion.
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