Hot Topic: Information Overload

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of information you need to digest for the ACEM Fellowship Exam. The textbooks are expanding with each new edition, the sheer volume of words you need to read is going up, and there is a seemingly endless river of web-based information pouring out by the day into the vast ocean of “stuff you don’t know yet but probably should”. It’s easy to feel swamped.

Some people are trumpeting the slogan “textbooks are dead” because they are “out of date before they’re published”.

But the College has to double reference the questions to recommended texts don’t they?

So what do you do?

Just read the books and ignore the web? Scour the web and ignore the books?

The reality is you need to do a bit of both.  If you are going to err on the side of one vs the other, we’d suggest erring on the side of reading more of the textbooks, and “top up” or augment that knowledge with web-base knowledge. There are many analogies for this concept. 

You can’t build a house without strong foundations.

You can’t walk before you crawl… etc etc

The point is you need to know what the examiners know, because they learned Emergency Medicine from the books, and wrote the questions with answers that are referenced to the books (and some of them wrote those books!).  A couple of the recommended texts are locally written, so they reflect local practice, which is what you need to know. 

The web base resources are there to “polish up” your foundation knowledge, and show that you are up to date with recent evidence, new practice-changing information, and what’s happening in the broader world of Emergency Medicine.

Here are a couple of great articles on sorting through the quagmire of online information and managing web-based informatiion overload. 

The first is from LITFL, and we thoroughly endorse the concepts they mention in this article.

The second is from 33Charts, and is more succinct, but still a useful read.

If you want to know what web-based resources are useful, check out or links section, as we’ve filtered these to only contain stuff we think is useful for the exam.   If you don’t know what an RSS Feed is check out our video that explains it  .Also read our sections on Self Directed Learning, to learn how to get your brain ready to deal with all this information.

And lastly, if you want any help in navigating the online resources, from RSS Feeds to Social Networking, and how it can help you pass the exam, drop us an email and we’d be happy to discuss your learning needs.


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply