The EMBER Project

Notecards in Verse – IST3

There’s a reason that the greatest speakers of truth in our society are still the comics and the poets.  As a member of the medical profession I would like to imagine that in our own way we aspire to offer truth to our patients. Sadly, we often fall short of this high aspiration.  For example, I will be discussing the practical implications of the IST3 trial in an upcoming post, but first I have to calm down.

To the IST3 collaborative I only want to say, I understand, sometimes being able to say what you really mean is hard, and when the emperor has no clothes it’s even harder.  So this EM Notecard is for you, I’ve tried to sum up the findings of your work as concisely as I can. You should know I have found the act of distilling several thousand words of important sounding medical speak into a few lines of verse profoundly cathartic.  I can only hope is has a similar therapeutic effect for you.

For everyone else, I have bundled up the latest postings on the subject. If you click on the card above it will link you to the EM Notecards in verse Pinterest board with a link to the IST3 study for your perusal. I also suggest the wonderful summary by Ryan Radecki of EMlitofNote, the post by Amit Maini over at EDTCC, and David Newman’s discussion on SMARTEM as well as his alway erudite blog post on the subject. Then come back here for a second helping of thoughtfulness on this amazing study.

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ACS – More Note Cards in Verse

Surprisingly, EM Notecards in verse are a huge success (or at least they are a novelty of sorts in the EM blogosphere). Occasionally on sign-out after a long shift I will threaten the residents with having to present in Haiku if they don’t keep their sign out on point, so there is a precedent. I will say that having to distill a medical article into four lines of verse is not as hard as you might think, which makes me more convinced than ever that professional medical writing is too wordy, and just bad plain bad.

One of the most common problems is the mistaken belief that more words make you sound smarter.  How many times have you read a journal abstract and realized that the article could have been summarized clearly in one sentence (instead of the long run-on paragraph filled with medical techno-babble you were unfortunately subjected to).

I know plenty of medical literature citing patient hand-offs as the source of medical errors, but none of these, to my knowledge, have looked at the length or format of the presentation being an issue.  In my experience a dull, disorganized narrative with the important points buried in irrelevant prose makes the mind go numb.

So this note card in verse is inspired by a study that was reviewed by Dr. Radecki, over at Emergency Medicine Literature of Note.  I really love this site.  For a busy EP, having an online source that curates and critiques current articles rather than slogging through the general detritus is a good thing.  In addition he writes well, and can sum up the essence of a study in a few hundred words.  So if for some bizarre reason you want more cogent reviews of the current literature  than four lines of iambic pentameter, I encourage you to add EM Lit of Note to your blog feed.

Notecards in Verse

Inspiration comes from the strangest places.  Yes, I studied English and Philosophy as an undergrad, but I wouldn’t have considered iambic pentameter as a tool for EM education.  Then again, if you asked me whether I preferred a mnemonic to a good limerick for remembering important information I would definitely take the limerick.

Then I stumbled upon a beautifully creative new app from Doormouse mfg, that recreates the beauty and imperfections of an old-fashioned Remington on your iPhone.  Go to their website and check out the creativity of some of the cards in their gallery. Here are some of my favorites to give you an idea of how creative people can be if given the tools to play with.

Once I bought the app for myself, I was addicted, and couldn’t put it down.  I started sending type-writer notes on the app’s “high quality card stock” to people, and was amazed at the responses and positive comments I received.  There is something elusive and fascinating about what sticks in our brains and what passes through unnoticed.

Why my next thought was Emergency Medicine notecards made in this fashion deserve to be in verse I can’t explain. But here we are. This card is based on a study by K. Inaba & Co about chest tube size in trauma.

So here’s the deal.  Each card embodies some key concept from a recent paper in the EM literature I’ve read.  Usually, it will be in verse, but not always (now that I’m a temperamental artist a can’t be bound by such rules)  Click on the card and go to my shared Evernote folder where the reference literature from which the questionable gobbet of educational doggerel was created a gallery of similar cards are available.  I’ll keep adding them as long as the Bard continues to inspire.

Type written cards in verse may not be the answer to all your learning needs, and if you recite them on rounds you may get odd looks, but you can be comforted by the fact that any step closer to the company of William or e.e cummings, and away from Powerpoint is a good one.

PS. if you want to try your hand at a few of these cards yourself just download the app, email your cards to me, and I’ll add them to the collection.  I’m sure a “Selected Works of Poetry in Emergency Medicine” is just a few lyrical verses away.

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