Students: Don’t Study Hard, Study Smart

As Medical, Nursing & Paramedic Science students, we’ve got a pretty tough gig. Not only are we required to juggle mountains of studying alongside placements, extra-curricular activities for our CV’s and reflective practice, but we are also expected to have a rather flamboyant social life. On top of that we’ve got to find at least one wednesday a month to turn up to a CCP lecture or clinical skills session. Unlike our non-healthcare student colleagues with long essay deadlines and 14 hour contact time weeks, we often find ourselves having to fit an awful lot into a short space of time. Here’s some ideas on how you can stop studying hard, and start studying smart.

Stop getting in your own way

Luke McKinney writes a brilliant article on detailing the many ‘dumb’ things we do while studying. Some of the idea here are obvious things like ‘learning by osmosis does not work’ and ‘highlighters aren’t magic’. Luke makes an interesting point however, about nest building:

In times of stress, the Examinated Student (Stressus Procrastinatus) can spend over an hour crafting the perfect study nest to defend itself from guilt. It all has to be just right, from lighting to coffee, because every single thing that needs to be fixed is another reason not to actually study yet. Some students spend longer trying to reach the perfect setup than Buddhist Monks spend trying to reach Nirvana, and with less tangible results.

Stop procrastinating and start learning, the quickest way to overcome inertia is to get started. Commit yourself to reading a page, going over one lecture, or working on an exam problem for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, re-evaluate and see if it really was that hard.

Start Learning Holistically

Holistic learning is the practice of linking up all your knowledge and building a wealth of resources within your mind that are all connected. People who study this way have improved recall and generally do better in exams. The parts of the brain involved in learning & memory are a jumble of thousands of neurons. Start linking them all together and you’ll see drastic improvements.’s 10 Tips to Study Smart & Save Time is a great primer for starting to work holistically. It recommends involving all of your senses, drawing pictures, mindmaps, and teaching others as methods to conquer those stacks.

Use the gifts that Apple gave you

We live in the future, and all of us walk around with iPads, iPods, iPhones, Macs, Windows Phones & Android devices constantly pressed against our faces. Close that facebook app for two minutes and stop reading the daily mail showbiz news app and actually make use of these high-tech gadgets you own. iMedicalApps is a brilliant source of medical apps for iphone, android & blackberry. From to-do lists that help you organise your learning, to practice quizzes and even simulation apps to practice clinical skills. Want to ace every exam you ever sit, from Finals to FCEM? There’s and app for that.

Get FOAM-y

Mike’s brilliant article earlier this week on the #FOAMed movement is a great example of what social media and the internet is doing for medical education. There is such a huge wealth of knowledge out there available to you, you just need to find it. Luckily, thats what Google, Youtube & Vimeo are for. One of the most amazing offspring of FOAM is the Global Medical Education Project, an open access database of thousands of questions to test your knowledge on basic sciences through to tough clinical cases. Other brilliant resources include, a fantastic resource with loads of notes, mindmaps and blog posts that you can help contribute to.

Flashcards are our Friends

Flashcards are one of the most effective ways to learn, by testing recall and solidifying knowledge. Whether just use index cards bound by a piece of string, or one of the many flashcard apps available (I reccomend MentalCase for OSX/iOS), you can create tailor made tests especially for you. Too lazy to make your own flashcards? Download one of the thousands of sets from Flashcard Exchange.


Contrary to popular belief – your brain sucks. Its the most complex biological supercomputer in the world, but it never seems to remember where you put your keys when you came in last night. Stop relying on your brain to remember all the brilliant resources and articles you come across, and start storing them. Apps like Pocket, Readability, Delicious and Evernote are for exactly that. Read Mike’s article on creating a reading workflow for more ideas.

Become a Timelord

Learn to manage your time effectively. While different people vary, its widely agreed that the brain can only concentrate effectively for between 30 and 90 minutes at a time. Some people even argue our recall is best after working in short focused bursts of 10 minutes, followed by 5 minutes of ‘off-time’. The Pomodoro Technique is a brilliant way to effectively manage your time and make sure you have frequent breaks – which actually results in you studying for longer. Vitamin-R is a great productivity app for Mac which takes this idea of breaking up your time into chunks one step further, and is heavily customisable.

Try out some of these techniques and watch your learning improve drastically, leaving you more time to relax, enjoy hobbies, and come out for the upcoming SotonCCP social. Have any other great ideas for studying effectively? Share them in the comments below.

Creating a reading workflow for online learning

Following on from this weeks “Why you should follow #FOAMed as a student”: a great article from Lauren Westafer (@LWestafer) inspired me to share my thoughts on “Creating a reading workflow for online learning”. Lauren’s article is fantastic, and even has a handy video showing how to subscribe to RSS feeds in google reader, and how to store interesting articles in evernote. Her post can be found at

I never thought of subscribing to individual journals via RSS. This will be particularly useful for those writing research projects, or dissertations at the moment.

In this post, I will demonstrate a similar method using native apps, and some automation from There’s obviously plenty of ways to skin a cat, so youll have to choose the method that works for you. (I’d also suggest carefully choosing your cat!)

Using an RSS aggregator rather than Google Reader Webpage

Rather than the traditional google reader webpage, I use the Reeder app ( which I find much cleaner. This still relies on your google reader account but runs as an application on your desktop rather than inside a webpage. Subscriptions can also be added within the app. Reeder is mac only, but plenty of windows apps also exist.

Viewing content on your phone

If you have an iOS or android device, I urge you to download the Flipboard app ( Whilst offering the ability to subscribe to all manner of topics within the app, it will also transform your google reader account into a fantastically readable magazine format which you can flick through. If you read articles in flipboard, they will also be marked as read across all your devices.


How to use Pocket as a Reading List

Often I will find interesting articles, but dont have the time to read them then and there. Queue the entry of pocket, another great app for mobile, web, and desktop use ( Pocket is similar to evernote, but lacks the ability to file items into different categories. I use pocket as the middle man between my RSS feeds and evernote.

If I find an intersting article which I want to read later, then I send it to Pocket with the click of a button. If you use google chrome, you can add a button to your menu which will automatically clip the current webpage to pocket. Similarly, in Reeder, there is a pocket icon which saves the current post. You can also email items to pocket from the email address you signed up with. By using the mobile app, you can carry your reading list around with you, synced across multiple devices.

Tying everything together using

The last piece of the puzzle uses (if this then that). This is an incredibly powerful website, which can automate tonnes of social media sites and applications. Using the website, you create simple recipes using the format: if X then Y. To tie pocket (my reading list), to my evernote account I created a simple recipe which automatically adds items to evernote if they are starred. Recipe

I now have a way to manage my reading list, and store useful articles in an easily accessible place. Although this process takes a bit of setting up, its fantastically useful once its in place. Pocket contains a list of articles I want to read, and I can then delete, or star them – thus archiving them in evernote.

There is a wealth of knowledge out there, and it would be impossible to read it all. However, having a reading workflow will help you find the interesting stuff you want, read at your convenience, and store long term for later use.

@impactednurse nicely summed up his reading workflow in a much more elegant way. This workflow uses many of the apps suggested by this article, our Study Smart article, and @LWestafer‘s article. Enjoy!


@impactednurse - Social Media Workflow



Why you should follow #FOAMed as a student?


Tired of cancelled teaching, grumpy clinicians, out of date information, or death by bullet points? Looking for some inspiration, and want to understand how the theory you’ve learnt is clinically relevant? #FOAMed may provide the educational resource you’ve been waiting for. Access on the move, in your own time, and interact in whatever way you see fit.

What is FOAMed?

FOAM stands for Free Open Access Medical Education. By following #FOAMed on twitter you have access to a fountain of information for all things emergency medicine and critical care. The FOAMed resources are constantly updated by a collection of inspirational clinicians across the world – and the best thing is, everyone is free to join in! For a full list of who we follow on twitter, go to FOAM is decribed in detail here or by Mike Cadogan below:


What resources are available?

#FOAMed can be thought of as on online discussion about some of the most exciting topics in critical care. As a student, imagine walking into a room with hundreds of doctors, nurses, and paramedics – all of whom are at the top of their game, and love teaching. By following #FOAMed you can listen to the conversation, but can also ask questions and start discussion. #FOAMed resources can be accessed from anywhere, from any device, and can be easily searched using the FOAM search engine

Some of my favourite FOAM resources:

Anatomy for Emergency Medicine (@AndyNeill)

Struggling with the anatomy spotter, and not sure what is relevant and what isn’t? Check out the Anatomy for Emergency Medicine series at to rekindle your love for anatomy! For those of you revising for the neuro exams this week, check out the website as there are tonnes of videos on neuroanatomy – without the crazy shirts of Dr Acland!


Life in the Fast Lane

The Life in the Fast Lane blog is another great FOAM resource. One of the best things about this website is the LITFL review which rounds up the weeks interesting and entertaining FOAM resources, and puts them together in one easy to access format: Theres also a fantastic section of ECGs with plenty of clinical cases too:

The Credible HulkThe Credible Hulk


Global Medical Education Project ( #GMEP)

The global medical education project is the brain child of Mike Cadogan (@sandnsurf) and the life in the fast lane team. It’s a social network that allows members to upload and view images, answer questions, and track their progress. The project is fairly new, but is already overflowing with useful resources. For more information, visit or

 SMACC 2013 P-K talks:

As part of the upcoming Social Media and Critical Care Conference, a fierce battle has raged to produce the best PK talk. These talks are 20 slides long, with each slide lasting 20 seconds. Each talk is therefore 6:40 long. There are a whole host of videos on topics such as RSI, capnography in cardiac arrest, and paediatric emergency medicine. The full list of talks can be viewed at

Chris Nickson (@precordialthump) produced a video on information overload, and how to stay up to date with FOAM.


There have also been some great entries to the SIMMWARS competion, such as this one by the #SydneyHems guys. Those who have been taking part in our clinical skills sessions and lectures will recognise many of the concepts and equipment.


EMCrit Blog – Scott Weingart (@emcrit)

Scott is an emergency medicine and critical care doctor in the states, with a goal of:

bringing upstairs care downstairs, one podcast at a time – Scott Weingart

His blog and podcasts can be found at Each podcast focusses on an emergency medicine or critical care topic. Scott is fantastic at keeping up to date with the current literature, and is one of my go-to sources when looking for information. Each podcast is kept simple, but the show notes behind the scenes provide ample opportunity to explore the topic further, with links to all the papers discussed. What I find most interesting, is the critical appraisal for each of these papers. Since critical appraisal features as part of finals, this is a good way to get up to speed! – Cliff Reid (@cliffreid)

The blog by Cliff Reid is another outstanding example of FOAM. Cliff reviews the new literature in the resuscitation field, providing the abstracts of interesting articles, and giving his take home messages on each. For anyone that wondered why Dr Phil Hyde is so quirky – well, Cliff Reid is partly to blame!

How to follow #FOAMed?

For more information on twitter, see In order to keep track of all my twitter feeds, I added a separate search for #FOAMed in TweetDeck (this feature is available in most twitter clients).

Tell us what you think?

Let us know what you think by tweeting (@sotonccp) or by leaving a comment below. Remember to follow us, and the rest of the team on twitter, and to tweet using the CCP lecture hashtags during our lectures.

SotonCCP (@sotonccp)

Mike Eddie (@mike_eddie1)

Ben Collins (@bbwcollins)

Dr John O’Neil (@johno_101)

Els Freshwater (@blacksladder)

Emergency Medicine – Traumatic Brain Injuries


This months lecture focuses on the initial management of traumatic brain injury. This is the first time we are testing the video “pre-reading concept”. Attached to this post is a 6 minute video which recaps on the concepts covered in Novembers prehospital lecture. It also provides an overview of some of the basic topics concerning the management of traumatic brain injury. The video alone is all the reading which is necessary to make the most out of the December lecture, however we have included a whole host of resources to explore the topic further. We look forward to seeing you at the lecture on 12th December – Building 32, EEE – Highfield Campus (18:00 – 20:00).

Pre-reading Video – Traumatic Brain Injury

Glasgow Coma Scale

Glasgow Coma Scale

Lecture Material

The presentations and videos from this months lecture will be uploaded after the event.

Additional Resources

Scott Weingart’s EMCRIT Podcast – #78 Brain Code

Further Reading

NICE Head Injury Guidelines 

Brain Trauma Foundation – Head Injury Guidelines

Quoted Papers

Cochrane Review of Therapeutic Hypothermia for Traumatic Brain Injury
Effect of hyperventilation on cerebral blood flow in traumatic head injury: clinical relevance and monitoring correlates.
Early hypotension worsens neurological outcome in paediatric patients with moderately severe head trauma
A Comparison of Albumin and Saline for Fluid Resuscitation in the Intensive Care Unit




Live Twitter Feedback

For the upcoming CCP Emergency Medicine lecture, we are hoping to trial live feedback using twitter. We hope to do this by displaying a live twitter feed on a separate screen in the lecture hall so you can tweet your questions and feedback. This will allow those delivering the lecture to answer questions in real time and adjust the pace accordingly. To be involved you’ll need a twitter account and a smartphone or laptop.

For those of you familiar with twitter, we’ll be using hashtags to livestream your tweets to a the display, all you need to do is ensure you’re following @SotonCCP and using the hashtags that we’ll tell you on the night. We don’t want to teach anyone to suck eggs, but for those new to social media, we include a brief guide to tweeting and hashtags to get you involved in the interactivity.

Signing up for Twitter
Visit to sign up for an account. Choose a username. On twitter, usernames are always preceded by an @ sign, like @SotonCCP




Download the App
If you’re using  a smartphone, you’ll need to download the official twitter app for iPhone, Blackberry, Android or Windows Phone.  You can find instructions for this at


Follow @SotonCCP
Search for @sotonccp or visit click the button to follow us. This will ensure you will get twitter updates on everything CCP and also allow you to tweet to us easily during the lecture.

Tweeting to another twitter user

Starting a new tweet with a username means your tweet will go directly to them. You can also ‘mention’ a twitter user by putting their username anywhere within a tweet.

Adding a hash (#) before a word turns it into a hashtag. Hashtags are used online to share ideas, thoughts and concepts. Hashtags can be clicked on to show all other tweets containing that hashtag. We may use hashtags to make your tweets show up on the screen in the lecture, if so we’ll tell you at the start which hashtag you need to use.


We hope this guide is useful for those that are new to twitter. We encourage you to try it out. Hopefully its a useful way to keep in touch with The CCP faculty, and we regularly post interesting links and news there. 

The live twitter feed will only be useful if everyone gets involved. We appreciate you are giving up your evenings to come and learn with us, and we want to make the lecture sessions useful to you. If they aren’t, then please tell us! We hope to bring an end to the death-by-powerpoint culture and run interactive and fun discussions that everyone in the room can get involved in. please also find below a link to a pdf version of this guide.

Twitter Guide PDF

Any questions and enquires to the usual address,

New Website Launched

Welcome to the new website and blog for the Southampton University Critical Care Programme. After changing to the wordpress platform, we are now able to edit the website remotely – which means the information stays up to date!

This website is the hub pertaining to all activity of the CCP. Events, courses, and educational content will all be published onto the blog. Content will be added to and developed over the coming days – included the much anticipated e-learning content.

In the meantime check out the following articles and video to get an idea about what the Critical Care Programme is all about: