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How to get the most out of your Current Awareness Updates

30 Jun 2017

Sarah Kennedy

This week’s post looks at how to get the most out of the Updates in celebration of two new Updates launching this July: Urology and Emergency General Surgery. Updates are concise email summaries of the latest evidence in a particular surgical field. The aim of the Updates is to provide surgeons with an easy-to-read, succinct guide to the latest high level evidence, guidance and policy in their particular specialty or subspecialty area. We hope that by providing Updates we will be supporting our surgeons to practice evidence-based medicine and with their continuing professional development. Updates can also be used to highlight areas for research and teaching and to help select reading for journal clubs.

CAS 1: Urology

Improved clinical practice through evidence-based medicine

The included articles, guidance and policy documents are the evidence base for your clinical practice. By keeping abreast of research findings and trends you will be able to ensure that you are practicing surgery in line with the most current evidence available.


Reading and research can be used as part of your CPD; however, the Academy of Royal Colleges does encourage medical practitioners to ensure that they are making the most of this CPD activity by recording reflective notes on the educational content. Surgeons can use the Updates to identify particular articles of interest to their area of practice and download our CPD form to record these reflections. The form prompts thought about study designs and methodologies and their suitability for the research, levels of bias, limitations and statistical analysis, as well as encouraging readers to identify how the research could influence their own practice. This is an excellent way to demonstrate your ability to critically appraise research articles at various levels of evidence, and meet the 50 hours of CPD per year requirement for revalidation with the GMC, 20 hours of which should be set aside for academic development.


The Updates can be used to identify trends, or new topics, in surgical research, or indeed, where high-level research is lacking in various specialties. They can help with your teaching by identifying newer studies in your areas of interest.

If there is a particular article that interests you, consider supplementing your knowledge on the subject by contacting us and requesting a literature search. This service is freely available to Fellows and Members and involves trained staff conducting structured searches on Ovid’s MEDLINE and Embase databases, as well as other resources where appropriate.

Journal Clubs

Journal clubs meet regularly to discuss research articles and improve their understanding of research design, statistics and critical appraisal methods in a discussion that goes beyond daily clinical duties. Participants broaden their understanding of issues that impact the profession, develop critical analysis skills, promote the value of research and scholarship, and network with peers. Meetings should be collaborative and constructive, allowing staff to build their knowledge base and apply their skills.

CAS 2: Journals

The high-quality, up-to-date evidence selected for the Current Awareness Updates makes it easy to establish topic areas of interest, and articles included make perfect additions to journal clubs. Updates provide links to full-text RCS subscriptions wherever possible, as part of our aim to meet the training and development needs of surgeons throughout their professional careers. College members can access 200+ specialised e-journals and use MEDLINE and Embase to link directly from search results to full text where available.

You could even begin or join a journal club through social media. Normally this would require the administrator of the club to host a blog for putting forward articles, asking questions and outlining dates for discussion. People can then participate by tweeting using an agreed-upon hashtag (#). Some of the benefits of running a journal club in this way are that it does not require you to travel to be in a particular location, people can participate and follow discussions over a longer period of time, and people across the world can share thoughts and opinions.

Look out for future posts from us on the importance of critical appraisal skills and how to develop your reflective practice.

Sarah Kennedy, Information Specialist

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