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How can GPs stay up to date with the rapid changes in medical knowledge?

28 February 2018 - Kate Clutton

It’s a problem as old as the profession. Harvard University Professor Nicholas Christakis said it in 1910: ‘there has always been and will always be too much to know. Medical knowledge is theoretically and practically limitless.’

However, the current rates of expansion of medical knowledge far exceed what Christakis could have imagined. A doctor practising in 1950 would have seen medical knowledge double every 50 years. In 2010, the rate was at 3.5 years, and by 2020, it will only take 73 days for existing medical knowledge to double in size.

While a GP is expected to continue their own education and professional development, given the rapidly expanding landscape of medical knowledge, this process is not what it used to be.

There are more conditions to diagnose, the diagnostic investigations are changing, treatments are changing, and the available drugs for treatment are growing at an exponential rate.

The modern challenges of primary care include the rise of Dr Google. Most patients will have googled their symptoms prior to seeing a GP. Google claims that one in twenty searches are conducted to obtain health-related information. And it’s not always wrong.  A recent BMJ study found that out of 26 medical cases, Google was correctly able to diagnose 15 cases.

It is a tool that cannot be ignored, and it leads to the question - how do new and changing technologies such as Google, with its access to a wealth of the latest information globally affect the GPs’ confidence in their ability to correctly diagnose and treat patients?

However, despite the many challenges now facing GPs, they remain the most productive and cost effective branch of the Australian health system. Their expertise and efforts in both primary care and preventive health ultimately reduce demands on the very expensive tertiary care system. GPs have repeatedly proven their worth in spite of the severe lack of funding in their sector.

So how can GPs best be supported in the current environment especially in their quest to keep up to date with the latest advances in medical science?

Continuing medical education is, of course, a prerequisite for medical registration. But what format is the most effective? Which programs deliver the best value in terms of skills learned for time invested?

Studies show that GPs overwhelmingly (at a rate of 95%) prefer learning in a group, and 83% prefer face-to-face lecture-based formats. These forms of learning appear to be the most engaging to GPs.

In addition, the education is only meaningful when the acquired knowledge actually offers an opportunity for changes in practice. That is, the knowledge gained has to be both relevant and practical.

Here at Medcast we have teamed up with top UK medical educators, NB Medical. This new partnership offers GPs a rare opportunity to access high level medical education in Australia.

We are brining you a new series of face-to-face ‘Hot Topics’ courses are lecture style sessions that update participants on the latest evidence based approaches. The courses are designed to offer condensed or ‘chunked’ bursts of information that can be more easily incorporated into a GP’s tight working schedule.

‘Hot Topics’ doesn’t waste time with unrealistic specialist guidelines that are irrelevant to GP clinical practice. Their courses build on GP knowledge by providing the newest information on the most common conditions faced in primary care. Examples of topics covered include managing multimorbidity in the elderly,  early detection of sepsis, diagnosing IBS, the role of faecal calprotectin testing, and the clinical relevance of thrombocytosis. These are just some of the issues explored in the ‘Hot Topics’ series.

The NB Medical ‘Hot Topics’ series already has an excellent reputation in the UK with GP testimonials praising the program as a clear, structured and useful learning experience.  

Medcast and NB Medical have risen to the challenge of providing high quality continuing medical education directly relevant to GP practice.

We offer GPs the opportunity to ensure they continue to deliver the highest standard of clinical care in the face of the ever-changing landscape of medical knowledge.

And while, in medicine, there will probably always be that sense that there is ‘too much to know’, ‘Hot Topics’ will help keep Australian GPs up-to-date on what is worth knowing in order to stay ahead of the game as a primary care professional.

For more information about the course, locations and dates - visit the course page.

Kate Clutton
Kate Clutton

Kate is a Director at Medcast, leading education projects and partnerships dedicated to improving healthcare through innovative education. She began her career as an Occupational Therapist and has a Masters in Public Health. Kate worked in healthcare advisory services at KPMG, where she delivered evaluation, clinical redesign, and change-management services to government and NGOs.

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