Redirecting five minutes of your working day can make you a better physician anesthesiologist. The key is to follow developments outside anesthesiology.
“We talk about an enlarged scope of our practice, which means you need some tools to help you keep up with very little time invested,” said James C. Eisenach, M.D., Francis James III Professor of Anesthesia at Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem North Carolina. He also is Editor-in-Chief of Anesthesiology.
“Take 1 percent of your active day – that’s five minutes – and spend it learning something new that is relevant to your work,” Dr. Eisenach said. “It is preparation for a broader scope of practice in the perioperative field and can improve your daily practice.”
Dr. Esenach explored strategies for keeping abreast of current research in a special presentation, “A Few New Papers From Outside Anesthesia Which Can Affect Your Practice,” on Monday. Research topics ranged from new data suggesting that therapeutic hypothermia has no effect on patient outcomes following cardiac arrest, to very solid evidence that there is no difference in the rates of adverse cardiac events following non-cardiac surgery in patients with preexisting bare-metal stents compared to drug-eluting stents.
“It is critically important for all of us to read research,” he said. “Research changes the way we practice.”
Dr. Eisenach pointed to a 2013 Journal of the American Medical Association article that found no difference in the risk of major adverse cardiac events following non-cardiac surgery in patients with preexisting coronary stents based on the type of stent. These new findings could change current preoperative assessment guidelines calling for a longer waiting period for non-cardiac surgery following placement of bare-metal stents than for drug-eluting stents.
The current guidelines are based on earlier indications that patients with bare-metal stents could be more likely to have major cardiac events following surgery than those with drug-eluting stents.
Finding that kind of relevant information from outside anesthesiology doesn’t have to be difficult, he said. Most physician anesthesiologists are already familiar with automatic alerts on smartphones and computers. All it takes is setting an automatic reminder for publications such as ASAP weekly, Anesthesiology and the New England Journal of Medicine Resident e-Bulletin.
“Identify the journals that are likely to carry articles that interest you, then sign up to automatically receive an electronic table of contents,” Dr. Eisenach said. “If something looks interesting, you can click through to the abstract. If that still looks worthwhile, you can continue on to the full article.”
Another strategy is to sign up for podcasts from journals and other sources with potentially useful information.Anesthesiology, like many journals, offers audio summaries that can be downloaded and listened to at a convenient time, such as commuting to the office.
“We all realize that guidelines are imperfect and subject to change as new data emerge,” Dr. Eisenach said. “Keeping up with research helps you keep up with those changes. Very often we do what we do because it seems to be the right thing to do.”