When I was applying to medical schools, one of the traits I constantly referenced was my desire to keep learning new things. In addition to the need to be a great educator (important both for teaching patients as well as colleagues), physicians are also charged with the sometimes arduous task of staying up-to-date on advances in the field. Although I am still in the “training” part of my career, I think it’s important to be aware of game-changing manuscripts that will likely impact how I practice medicine in the future. Aside from perusing medical blogs, I also maintain a subscription to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) as well as the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) to try to stay current with medical literature.
Keep in mind that I don’t claim that I read every single issue that is sent to me. Most of the time I’ll throw them into my gym bag and try to read the abstracts during a cardio session. Often, I’ll get through one or two pieces that catch my eye and feel dizzy from trying to keep my heart rate up on the elliptical and read tiny print. But in the end, I feel more well-read and at least partially updated on new advances.
If you’re a medical student and don’t yet have a subscription to these two major publications, I encourage you to join the American Medical Association (AMA) to receive JAMA for free. Even though there is a cost associated with AMA membership, it becomes well worth the one-time fee to receive JAMA for a few years. As for the NEJM, if you join the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) – membership is free for U.S. medical students – then you can receive a year subscription to NEJM for only $52 (plus online access and some swag). Although these fees sound like a lot, the quality of these publications goes a long way.
Most medical schools grant access to both journals through library portals. In the past, I’ve tried using these portals to stay updated but the effort required to just read the abstract of a single paper was a huge barrier. By receiving the journal in the mail on a regular basis, it forces me to at least page through and often read a couple of the papers that catch my eye. To me, the cost is justified by how convenient receiving the journals in the mail is.
How do you stay up-to-date on medical literature?
Read more experiences from current medical students. Subscribe to our blog!
All of the opinions expressed here are the author’s and his/hers alone, and do not represent necessarily those of Kaplan or its employees.