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How to Use Professor EBM

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Here are some instructions and tips on how to lead a lively and educational discussion, using the Professor EBM teaching modules.




1.      Each of the teaching modules is written using a case-based, question and answer format.  The Teacher’s Guide offers a rough estimate of how long it would take to teach a module.  Most are between 30 to 50 minutes long and are designed to be discussed on attending rounds.  If you would like to give a shorter teaching session, you can skip section III, the “Questions for Further Discussion.”  If you prefer to give a longer teaching session, consider combining two or more teaching modules.


2.      The modules can be taught one-on-one, but they are most useful when reviewed in a small group setting of 2 to 8 learners. 


3.      The teaching modules assume a basic understanding of evidence-based principles and terms.  Read through the modules on evidence-based principles if it has been a while since you’ve learned about them.




1.      We highly recommend that you read through the entire Teacher’s Guide before leading the teaching session.  We also recommend that you read the Key Articles.  Reading any of the Reference Articles is purely optional.  It usually takes from 60 to 90 minutes to prepare for a teaching session, assuming it is the first time you have covered the topic.


2.      Ask your learners to review the cases and questions in the Learner’s Guide prior to the teaching session.  You can send them an email linking them to Professor EBM with Invite a Friend.


3.      Make copies of the Learner’s Guides and the Key Articles, and distribute them to the learners at least one day prior to the teaching session.  Ideally, the learners should read the Key Articles before the teaching session.  If there is more than one Key Article, you can assign different team members to read different Key Articles, asking each of them to be prepared to summarize the methods and results.


Teaching the Module


1.      Find a small conference room or office with a dry-erase board for your teaching session.


2.      The teaching session should be conducted as a round-table discussion, rather than a lecture.  Ask team members to introduce themselves, if they don’t already know each other.  To help break the ice, ask the learners about some of the experiences they’ve had with the topic to be discussed.  Although these modules are evidence-based, learners tend to remember anecdotes and not data.  Some examples of ice-breaker questions would be:


"What is the lowest pH you’ve ever seen?  What was the cause of the acidemia?” 


"Have you ever had a patient develop contrast nephropathy?  In retrospect, do you think there was anything that could have been done to prevent it?” 


"Have you ever referred a patient for elective cardioversion?  What was the indication?” 


“How many cases of Pneumocystis pneumonia have you seen?”  



3.      Ask a learner to read the case aloud. 


4.      If learners are hesitant to answer the questions, call on them.  Use the “list method” for questions that have more than one answer.  For example, you can ask each learner to list just one risk factor for contrast nephropathy.  If someone is not able to give an answer, don’t linger on him or her – move on to the next team member.  You can also ask on team members to vote on answers.


5.      Assuming the learners have read the Key Articles ahead of time, ask different team members to summarize the methods and results.  Ask about some of the limitations of the studies.


6.      Interject your own experiences, anecdotes, opinions and interpretations of the articles.  Again, the modules are meant to be a general guideline for discussion, not a rigidly followed lecture.


7.      At the end of the session, go around the room and ask each learner to list one take-home point from the discussion.  This practice will help them consolidate what they have learned.


Teaching Variations


1.      Instead of using the hypothetical case in the module, ask a learner to present a real case from the wards.  This will give the learners a lesson in applying the literature in a real world scenario.


2.      Questions that are not easily answered will inevitably arise during the discussion.  Write the questions down on the board, and at the end of the session, assign one or more learners to perform a literature search, and present their conclusions at the next teaching rounds.


3.      If you and the team are feeling ambitious, in addition to the Key Articles, split up the Reference Articles and ask each team member to review the methods and results of one or more studies.


4.      At the next teaching session, ask learners if any of them had a chance to apply what they had learned from the previous teaching session.  This has the highest yield if a common topic, such as Pain Management, was discussed.


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