A learning adventure

Unplanned or “emergent” learning occurs when the learner is open to new serendipitously found information and incorporates it into their knowledge base¹. This adventurous approach to learning can ultimately change a physician’s practice. Cites & Bytes, the College library’s monthly newsletter, is designed to support this informal medical learning by presenting a selection of citations from the current literature for physicians to identify new information relevant to their own practice. 

The newsletter was established in 1996 by librarian Judy Neill who edited the ensuing 200 issues until her retirement in 2012. Since then, the newsletter has been compiled and edited by the four College librarians, led by Niki Baumann.

Cites & Bytes article topics are based on reference inquiries submitted to the library by College registrants as well as medical issues raised in the press and those of local or regional interest. Other inclusion criteria comprise publication types such as recent reviews, research and guidelines published in authoritative, peer-reviewed journals. Preference is given to articles with strong research design such as systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and randomized controlled trials or prospective studies with large sample sizes. The College librarians scan 100 journals each month, with final entries chosen through a team review process.

Over 5,000 College registrants subscribe to Cites & Bytes and represent the specialties that mirror those of the library’s most intensive users: general practitioners, psychiatrists, internists, obstetricians and gynecologists, anesthesiologists, and pediatricians. The full text of cited articles is available directly from the Cites & Bytes web page where free or subscribed content is available. Articles can also be requested from the library, which registrants did over 4,000 times in 2012. Feedback indicates that Cites & Bytes provides effective support for continuing learning and for maintaining currency, as well as acting as a connection between the College and registrants. 

In addition to scholarly articles, new books are highlighted in Cites & Bytes. These few selected titles are just a small sample of the over 7,000 books, including e-books, available in the library’s collection. The library’s holdings can be searched in its online catalogue at http://szasz.cpsbc.ca/.  New audio CDs and DVDs are also indicated as available for loan, and the audio files can also be downloaded as MP3 files (see Audio Digest clinical lectures link here: https://www.cpsbc.ca/library/search-materials/audiovisual).

While to date Cites & Bytes has been delivered to subscribers monthly and to all registrants with the College Quarterly, it is now sent by email each month to all registrants with library privileges.  An “unsubscribe” option is available. Delivery of copies of articles cited in Cites & Bytes remains unchanged: copies can still be delivered by email as a PDF attachment, fax or surface mail, or can be directly downloaded from the website where available. The library hopes that this broader dissemination of the Cites & Bytes newsletter will provide more physicians with serendipitous opportunities for learning.

  1. Planned and Emergent Learning: Consequences for Development. Megginson, D. Management Learning. 1996 December 1, 1996;27(4):411-428.

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