You need to know where your ultrasound and associated supplies are stored to quickly perform a FAST exam as soon as a trauma patient arrives. You need to know who your general surgeon on call is and how to contact them, in order to get your newly diagnosed case of appendicitis admitted and to the operating room. Most of your patients may not individually need a bedside ultrasound or surgical consultation, but when you have a patient who does need it, you have to be ready to mobilize these resources quickly.
Likewise, you need to learn about and develop a system for how to look up answers when you have clinical questions about diagnosis and treatment of both common and rare presentations of emergency medicine cases. One of the hardest things about emergency medicine is never knowing what you will take care of next, including relatively rare disease processes, particularly those you haven’t seen before or studied in a long time. While many folks may refer back to hard-copy printed textbooks for reference when these clinical questions of “what do I do next” arise, an increasing number of incredibly useful resources are available online and can improve your efficiency in both learning outside of the hospital as well as calling upon them during a busy shift to answer the “what next” conundrum.
Outlined below are a number of resources I have found helpful, and you might as well. Some of these are paid while many are free, and all should be available digital formats. As the world of online medical education continues to grow, you may find others, including this website, have the answers you need, when you need them. Finding answers to your questions when you most need it is a really valuable skill that will enhance your clinical practice.
UpToDate requires a subscription but may be available for some individuals for free through institutional logins. Despite its relatively high price, this is my favorite resource and is great for questions around diagnosis (including differential diagnosis) and treatment recommendations. A phone application is also incredibly helpful on the go.
Orthobullets is a great quick reference for injuries and orthopedic complaints. For example, they can give you guidance on the recommended management of a specific fracture. Most everything an EM provider would need is accessible for free, though there are paid portions of the website.
Radiopaedia is incredibly helpful when looking for the best radiologic study to answer your clinical question, and can also provide guidance in interpreting imaging once it has been obtained. They also have lots of example images that show both normal and pathologic findings, which is really helpful when trying to analyze imaging studies.
Below is a list of other websites that you might consider using, particularly for an emergency medicine perspective on important EM topics. Please remember that many of these sites are in a blog format and individual blog posts will vary in their level of scientific evidence with a base in peer-reviewed literature versus an author’s opinion and practice. Most all will utilize references in their posts and can help you delineate what content is following the standard practice versus a newly developing opinion or approach. Some of the best online EM content to consider:
Although there are dozens and dozens of podcasts that contain valuable content in emergency medicine, the standard-bearer has been EM:RAP. Though this resource requires a subscription, it does come with a native phone application and is free for EMRA members as a part of your membership, and their C3 (continuous core content) series is great for the highest yield topics in emergency medicine. Also, the Crackcast series systematically walks through Rosens and is a great adjunct or review tool.
Lastly, consider hardcopy or electronic versions of the foundational textbooks of emergency medicine: Rosen’s and Tintinalli’s. Also, the procedural textbooks Roberts & Hedges, or Reichman’s Emergency Medicine Procedures, cover all procedures, from basic to complex, that are within the scope of the practice of emergency medicine.