They lined the walls in a warm room as far from the central table as possible. They had come to learn about EKG's. Residents of at varying years of training sat amongst the interns, much the same way as the Democrats sat amongst the Republican's at the recent presidential State-of-the-Union address: cordial - not too aloof.
I was fortunate to be the lucky guy to teach them that day. I have always enjoyed this opportunity and generally the lectures seem to be well-received and attended. This was lecture toward the latter part of the year, so things were not the chip-shot tracings that most learn in ACLS. Still, we always harken back to the fundamentals of reading tracings to help us understand new concepts, but I encountered a strange silence when I discussed the EKG's of patients with pacemakers:
"We all hear the phrase "He's got a DDD pacemaker," right?
They all uniformly nodded they'd heard the phrase, so I asked further:
"What do the letters in the term 'DDD pacemaker' mean?"
Silence overcame the room.
Perhaps I had caught them off guard. Many of their eyes fell to the floor. Some smiled but failed to answer. Some were clearly unnerved by the question as they shifted in their seats. A cough could be heard in the corner - it might as well have been a pin dropping. In the back right-hand corner a pager sounded. Everyone turned to the lucky contestant who was saved by the beep. Finally, somewhere toward the opposite corner of the room came a faint suggestion:
"Isn't one of them mean which chamber is paced?"
Relieved, you could see a few heads nodding now.
"Which letter of the three represents that?"
Again, the room fell silent.
Needless to say, we moved on from there after a quick basic review of pacing terminology, but his got me thinking: where have we failed to teach our medical students and residents such fairly basic clinical concepts and vernacular we use every day? Are we spending too much time on the Krebs cycle and not enough time on clinically relevant concepts in medical school and internship? How do we get them to remember?
So I had an idea: what if I used social media?
We all know that every medical student and resident (and doctor and patient, for that matter) has a cell phone. Might we use Twitter to try to teach small snippets of information to our trainees? Obviously they would have to have a Twitter account. Also, not all concepts lend themselves to this appraoch very well, but it might be worth a trial.
Soooooo, look for an occassional Electrophysiology Quiz via Twitter from yours truly. (Others with ideas for ultra-short cardiac electrophysiology quizes are welcome to join in the fun, just use the hashtag '#epquiz' in your tweet.)
Soon, there might be an entire library of fun questions and answers for all to enjoy on Twitter that are easy to catalog! And who knows? Maybe some of our more engaged students, interns, and residents on social media just might remember a thing or two while contributing to the fun.