iScan 2022

This post isn’t so much educational or to promote some great #FOAMed educational resources, but is to promote an educational event. I’m going to be an instructor at a POCUS event coming up in May called iScan 2022. This is put on by the Society of Point of Care Ultrasound (SPOCUS) and is a POCUS “competition” aimed at PA and NP students. Why is competition in quotes? Well, because it’s really a teaching event disguised as a contest. It’s a great idea to gamify this sort of education. Students register in teams (solo students will be grouped together into teams or added to existing teams) and will go around to various stations where there will be teaching and contests. But it’s all in fun! And it’s FREE!! (Free POCUS training is like a unicorn!)

This is the 5th year, but the first year I’ll be a part of it and I’m super excited! (I was supposed to do it last year, but couldn’t go due to COVID). It’s May 23rd in Indianapolis, IN. If you’re a PA student, that coincides with the AAPA conference, so you may be in town anyway, why not come learn some POCUS? For information, including a link for registration, can be found here.

NPs, the website is heavy on the PA language, but it’s just as much for you! Historically, it’s pretty PA heavy because of its association with the AAPA conference. But, SPOCUS is specifically interested in growing support among NP students. At least a few of the instructors will be NPs and there will be teams of NPs. So, come represent!

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!

Keeping Up with the “Literature,” Part 3

In the previous 2 posts, we’ve talked about how to keep up with the critical care literature. Eddy Joe Gutierrez shared his process and I started to make my case for using social media/podcasts/blog etc. as a tool for this process. I think the fact that you’re reading a blog (and likely following this blog on Twitter as well) means that you’re on board with the idea of this type of media as education and hopefully you can see how it’s helpful in keeping up with the newest info and research.

In this post, I’m going to give you some practical tips for managing the non-traditional literature, because although it can be very helpful, there is so much out there that it can easily become overwhelming as well! The good news is, there is already some baked-in benefits that we can take advantage of to help organize and manage things.

Social Media

Let’s start here. Twitter and Instagram are my two major sources of social media, at least for this sort of thing (I have a personal Facebook page but I use it almost exclusively to stay connected with friends and family). The first thing to do in order to make use of Twitter for keeping up with the latest in critical care is to start following a diverse group of people and organizations. Most professional societies and journals have Twitter accounts. In addition, there are a lot of great podcasts and websites that provide critical care education and you may be using already who are also on Twitter. Finally, there are a number of great accounts out there who are just “regular” critical care providers who are passionate about this sort of thing and will share articles of interest. This is why I recommend following a variety of different people, in order to get a wide range of interests represented.

To make this easier, you can use the lists function of Twitter. You can use this to create curated lists of a specific topic. You give the list a name and then add Twitter accounts to that list. The list won’t necessarily be limited to that topic, it will include anything by the people you add to that list. But, it can help to organize things. Additionally, you can follow other users lists. So, if you see someone who tweets about a topic that you’re interested in, and they have a list of that topic, you can follow their list. Whenever you’re interested in reading about that particular topic, you can pull up the list (yours or someone else’s that you’re following).

I’m newer to Instagram, so I don’t have any great tips for organizing the stream there. If anyone knows, please let me know (best way is to post on Twitter @CritCareNotes). But, Instagram is quickly becoming one of my favorite sources due to the visual nature of the medium. Photos and videos are so helpful for learning and keeping up with the latest and greatest. People have told me that Tik Tok is becoming a great source of short videos as well, but I haven’t made the jump there just yet.

I’m going to break this up here. I’ll cover my approach to podcasts and blogs in the next post.

Keeping Up with the “Literature,” Part 2

Earlier I shared a post about how Eddy Joe Gutierrez stays on top of the critical care literature. I mentioned that I also use social media/podcasts/blogs/etc to help me stay on top of things and promised a little more later.

So, I put literature in quotes in the title, because a lot of people don’t consider this sort of thing to be “the literature.” And in the strictest sense of the word, it’s not. However, in 2022, we can learn a lot about the current state of critical care research and practice from these non-traditional sources (hence the entire raison d’etre of this blog). Many of the podcasts, blogs, etc out there cite sources for their information, it’s not just “expert opinion.” And, these tools make it easy to digest info in 2 main ways: crowdsourcing and enabling on-to-go learning.

Crowdsourcing, if you’re not familiar, is the concept of getting input from a variety of people in order to answer a question or deal with a problem. It’s the 21st century version of sharing the work. Social media is a great way to crowdsource your literature review. Because there are so many critical care professionals out there on Twitter, Instagram, etc., and they can all post about the latest literature that interests them. By following a wide variety of people, you can get posts about a wide variety of interests in easily digestible bites.

The other huge benefit to this is the on-the-go nature of this medium. I’m busy. I’m sure you are too. I don’t have a lot of time to sit down and read a journal. But, I do have time to listen to a podcast (more on that in a bit). I can also listen while doing other things. My favorites are to listen during my commute, while mowing my yard, and while walking my dog. I used to listen a lot at the gym as well, but find that I can’t focus as well, so I reserve those for podcasts about things I don’t have to concentrate on (typically topics I already know and just need some refreshing on). I also have time to scroll through Twitter or Instagram while I drink my coffee in the morning. These posts are short and I can bookmark anything interesting to look at later.

OK, this post is getting a bit longer that my usual, and I’ve got a lot more to add, so I’ll save the nuts and bolts of how I manage all of this for next time.

Keeping Up with the Literature

If you’re like me, your inbox is full of stuff that is crying for your attention. And you likely have a stack of journals in the corner of your office for “when I get some time to read.” There is a non-stop onslaught of information coming at us every day, and this is especially true in critical care. If you’re also like me, you probably have said, “I want to make sure that I’m giving the best possible care to my patients, but how can I stay on top of all the newest literature?”

In this great blog post and podcast episode, Eddy Joe Gutierrez shares with us how he stays on top of things and keeps up with the latest and greatest in critical care literature. I love a lot of his suggestions. Some I currently do (Critical Care Reviews is essential!) and some I’m thinking about implementing in my own life. One thing I have found super helpful in keeping up with things in social media/blogs/podcasts, hence, this site! I’ll be doing a separate post on how I manage all of that and use it to help me personally stay on top of things. Right now, check out Eddy Joe’s strategy to keep up with the literature.

Simulation in Critical Care Education

Simulation is a great tool for training in critical care. It allows us to practice performing procedures and dealing with high-risk situations in a safe place without exposing patients to harm. But, it offers so much more than that. I’ve been interested in simulation training for years. In fact, I did my doctoral project on simulation training in critical care.

Studies show that simulation is as good or better at training than actual clinical experience. In one study of medicine residents, 1st year residents without ICU experience outperformed 3rd year residents with ICU experience in clinical scenarios. The difference? The 1st years had a simulation course whereas the 3rd years had only real-world experience.

But, a lot of us in critical care training only scratch the surface of what sim can do. Although beneficial for the high-risk, low-frequency events, sim offers much higher yield in the more everyday scenarios. This includes things like teamwork and communication, but also the concept of “practice like you play.”

“Practice like you play” is the idea that if you practice common situations and scenarios enough, then when you’re confronted with them in real life, they will be automatic. This is the same concept that makes experienced providers generally better than novices. When someone has been practicing critical care for years, that experience allows them to pick up on things that novices miss. It also allows certain things to be automatic. You don’t have to sit and think through all the steps in working up a given condition, they’re automatic.

The Emergency Mind Podcast recently did a great episode on using simulation training. Drs Victoria Brazil and Andrea Austin joined host Dan Dworkis to discuss all the ways we can use simulation. They talk about “practice like you play,” creating psychological safety, in situ simulation, low-fidelity simulation, and much more. Give it a listen.

There are several websites out there where you can download premade simulation scenarios. This is fantastic because building scenarios is the hardest part of developing a simulation curriculum. But, the problem is, these scenarios tend to be fairly algorithmic. “If this, then that” situations are ideal for sim because they are straightforward cases to build. But, what if you want to teach your learners more critical thinking? This is an aspect of simulation that isn’t as well explored. Don’t get me wrong, there is lots of value in the first type of cases. If you do enough a-fib with RVR scenarios in the sim lab, when it happens in the ICU, you’re on autopilot. But, that’s also the problem. How do we use sim to teach nuanced thinking? That requires more detailed scenarios.

I’m not sure I have the answer. Scratch that, I know I don’t have the answer. But, this is where we’re going. In our Critical Care APP Fellowship, our fellows spend a significant amount of time in the sim lab. We do a dedicated sim lab day every month, but mostly, the scenarios are the “if this, then that” type. We’re in the process of redesigning our simulation curriculum to include more scenarios on leadership, communication, teamwork, and critical thinking.

There are lots of great things out there in the world of simulation. Are you using sim in your training program? How are you using it? Have you had any success with new and innovative methods? Tweet @CritCareNotes and let me know what you’re doing. Let’s share these successes and help all of us become better educators.