eBooks vs Print Books

eBooks vs Print Books: Med Student Survey

"Easy, John, help will be here any day now."

As a medical student, which do you prefer, eBooks or print books?

A previous post summarized the pros and cons of eBooks versus print books in general.  Do the particular needs of medical students tilt the preference one way or the other?  I.e.:

Medical study is intense, involving a great deal of reading.  Does the glare  of reading on a screen for long periods outweigh the convenience of not carrying  around  heavy books and the generally decreased pricing of eBooks?  While eBooks provide the opportunity for sound and video, many subjects do not need sound and video for effective presentation, or the sound and video could be presented as a separate program on your computer.  Medmaster has done this for a number of its titles, with CDs that accompany the print books, the print books for the long stretches of reading, and the CD programs for additional interactivity.

Medical study often involves a great deal of text highlighting and page turning.  While you can do this with both eBooks and print books, the process seems slower with eBooks than with print books.  Is this enough of a problem to lead students to still prefer print books?

Another issue is the distraction that can occur when reading from an eReader.  Do all the links to other areas, to YouTube, apps, games, the Web, music, and news  steal time from the reading and study of the medical book, which should be the main object of focus?

What is your opinion?  If you have used eBooks, do you find that you prefer them to print books?  Would you use both?  Please send your opinion.  Your feedback is important.

Rapid Learning

How Reliable Is Your Medical Information?

Perhaps oxygen wasn't such a good idea!

When working in the hospital and medical office during the clinical years,  it is common to receive pearls of wisdom from interns, residents, and attendings.  How reliable is this information?  And how reliable is the information we receive from lectures, journal articles, books, and drug reps?

A lot of information is  passed around, and since some of it is wrong, it is important to rely on the best sources available.  In the 1980’s, some of the best minds in medicine made a disastrous mistake.  It was known that significant cardiac arrhythmias were correlated with death.  A search was undertaken for drugs that would reduce such deaths.  But rather than using reduction of deaths as an end point in the drug studies, it was easier to adopt a “surrogate” endpoint, namely whether the drug reduced arrhythmias.  If a drug reduced arrhythmias, it presumably would also reduce deaths.  It was not adequately considered that the drugs might have unexpected harmful side effects that would in fact worsen the problem and contribute to death.  Antiarrhythmics became widely prescribed, even for non-life threatening arrhythmias, leading to many unnecessary deaths (which initially were felt to be due to the heart disease, rather than the drugs), until studies were properly done to assess whether the drugs actually saved lives.  They didn’t; they killed thousands of people.

There is so little time to read and evaluate the medical literature, particularly the Materials and Methods sections of research articles, and there is an unfortunate tendency to rely on the word of physicians above us in the hierarchy, or on drug reps, or on research reports (particularly those funded by drug manufacturers) that may have biased and erroneous conclusions.  It is necessary to know how to read and evaluate a research article.  This requires some knowledge of biostatistics.  For further information, see Ann Weaver’s brief and intuitive book, Clinical Biostatistics Made Ridiculously Simple, which focuses on the pitfalls of clinical research reports and how to evaluate them.

It is also important to use reliable medical search engines on the Internet, since the Internet contains lots of unreliable information. Such search engines are described on the MedMaster search engine page.

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Do you prefer  eBooks or print books?  And why?  Feel free to comment.