Keeping Up with the “Literature,” Part 4

When I started this series of posts, I really thought it would be one additional post sharing some of my process, but it’s turned out to be a lot longer. I think that this will be the last one in the series (for now at least) and we’ll cover some practical tips for my 2 favorite resources, blogs and podcasts.


There are a ton of great blogs out there and I follow a bunch of them. Social media has the advantage of offering “quick bites” that can be scanned in a hurry and podcasts offer the ability to get educational content while doing other things (multi-tasking is always helpful in this busy world). But, blogs offer the distinct advantage of long-form, written content. Blogs can offer the space to really flesh out thoughts, link to other resources (including the original journal articles), and the ability to re-read passages for greater understanding.

The 2 biggest downsides for blogs are the length of time required to read posts and keeping track of all the content out there. The best tool I have found for dealing with both of these issues is an RSS reader. RSS readers allow you to subscribe to blogs and have content automatically delivered to you as soon as it’s released. There are a number of great options out there, I use one called Newsblur. I have it as an app on my phone, but it is also available as a website and tablet app. It’s simple and straightforward and free (my 2 big requirements). I can create categories for different blogs and then there are some categories that I review daily, some weekly, and some monthly. If I come across a post that interests me but I don’t have time to read it now, I can save it for later. I typically check this app daily and at least sort through what’s new and deciding if it’s something I’m interested in or not.


So, podcasts are far and away my favorite way to download (no pun intended) new info in terms of research and education. My favorite thing about podcasts is that they allow for multi-tasking. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I listen to podcasts while I mow my yard, while I walk my dog, and driving to and from work. This is a great time saver for me.

As far as organization, I just use the default Apple Podcasts app on my iPhone. I know that there are other options out there and have tried a few. But I keep coming back to Apple Podcasts. It’s simple and easy and free. The only thing I don’t love is that there is not a great way to organize podcasts. I’d like a way to categorize these, especially separating medical podcasts from those I listen to just for personal interests.

The last big trick I’ve started using with podcasts is adjusting the speed. This is something I had initially resisted because it felt weird. But, you get used to it and it becomes a helpful time saver. I typically listen to podcasts for fun at normal speed. If it’s a topic that I’m familiar with, I’ll listen at 1 1/2 x speed, sometimes rewinding and slowing down if I need to spend a little more intense concentration on a particular part. Sometimes I’ll listen to an episode at 2x speed if it’s a topic I know well and I just want to hear a particular take to see if I can recommend it to readers or students (but 2x does get sort of hard to listen to and understand if it’s at all complex). I’ll sometimes listen to Spanish podcasts at 1/2x speed to practice my Spanish skills.

Hopefully, this series has been helpful to you in terms of offering some more tools to keep up with the constant stream of critical care literature and education out there!

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