Selecting e-learning resources

Dr Toni Hazell advises on how to choose from among the many available e-learning sources.

GPs can tailor e-learning to suit their own needs (iStock)

GPs are under pressure to manage our time efficiently and to identify our own learning needs. Year on year, my appraisals contain fewer courses and more online learning.

So why switch to e-learning? The benefits are obvious - it is cheap (or free), convenient and can be done in your own time. Many GPs who are working parents do their CPD after the children are in bed.

You can tailor it to suit your learning needs and if you want to know more, Google and Pubmed are at your fingertips.

However, there are a few minor disadvantages to bear in mind - for example, you will need to assess the quality of the learning materials if they are not provided by a reputable organisation.

You usually cannot question the teacher and modules aimed at all GPs may not be detailed enough if a topic is your area of particular interest.

Choosing individual topics can mean you do not find out what it is that you don't know you don't know. So you do need to plan ahead.

Why choose e-learning?

1.You want an update. That last patient has reminded you that you never did get to grips with eczema at medical school. Or you want to learn about something new, something that you might not know to look for. In short, you are looking for knowledge that most GPs should have, either to go through in depth, or quickly while the patient is in the room. Box 1 gives some examples.

2. You have started developing a special interest. Suddenly your colleagues are coming to you with their tricky dermatology queries and you need to brush up. You are looking for knowledge that the average GP might not have. Have a look at box 2 for some ideas.

3. You want to help a patient. You know they will be searching online and you would rather they seek out reputable information than the 'help' of Dr Loadsadollars in Texas, who will relieve them of their hard-earned cash in exchange for some goat serum, guaranteed to cure all ills. Check out box 3.

4. You do not need clinical information. You have been elected to the CCG, become a trainer or taken on the role of HR partner. Your revalidation is due and you do not know what to do about it. Box 4 will point you in the right direction.These links should get you started on e-learning - there is something out there to suit everyone's learning style.

We would like to hear about which resources you find useful, so please email or tweet us with your top tips and we will pass them on.

  • CPD from GP magazine and MIMS. Searchable by subject or popularity/editor's pick. Activities to claim impact on your appraisal.
  • RCGP site - do a module on one subject, or an Essential Knowledge Update which covers lots of areas.
  • to NHS staff, this has some very detailed modules. Some are compulsory, for example to update an IUD qualification. Not the most intuitive of sites to navigate.

Dr Hazell is a GP in north London and e-learning development fellow for the RCGP

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