Prof. Guido Wanner is deputy director and chief consultant of the Trauma Surgery Clinic at the Universitätsspital Zürich, Switzerland. Since 2009 he has been professor of surgery at the University of Zurich.
Read here about how he sees the educational landscape changing from a medical information perspective.
IO: Describe shortly how accessing medical and educational information now and then has changed.
Prof. Wanner: The medical landcape has dramatically changed since I started medical school at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in the 80s. All scientific books and journals came printed and were expensive and time consuming to get and to copy in our library. Since online access to databases did not exist then, the only digital way to receive scientific material was to manually copy the yearly editions of the Medline CDs. While at that time it was hard work to gather the scientific material I needed for my dissertation, I must admit that I did to it carefully and conscientiously compared to the more superficial and quick reading of today’s fast moving society.
Then came Pubmed and the omnipresent Internet access that made my life much easier. I used literature reference and formatting programs that allowed me to create my own “Mini Pubmed” database including only articles relevant to my field of research. The race between established paid for papers as JBJS and NEJM and free open access platforms created a healthy competition that was of course beneficial to us surgeons. But it also acted as an accelerator for the distribution of knowledge. Fast and global access to knowledge is not a privilege anymore.
The result of this massive availability and accessibility of information is that everyone everywhere can publish anything. Filters of technological or human nature have become more important than ever.
IO: How will access to knowledge change in the future?
Prof. Wanner: Considering the information overload we are confronted with, the question we are all interested in is: How do I know what is relevant? Are the sources as Pubmed and the established journals themselves already a sign for thought through, valid, in-depth research? Or can I rely on other factors to help me select what I need?
I myself rely on a couple of factors:
– Pubmed is a great search tool if you can narrow down the search to the themes you are interested in.
– The Cochrane Library supervises certain quality standards related to evidence classes
– AO Traumline analyses current studies according to evidence classes
– Expert opinions
Event though in Europe virtual expert groups are still not as popular as in the US, discussion groups on linkedin or Facebook or specific professional medical networks such as researchgate can absolutely make sense for surgeons.
IO: Tell me a little more about your medical news reading behaviour?
Prof. Wanner: As a professor of surgery at the Universität Zürich, my job implies that I have to read and research on a regular basis. Additionally, I am a faculty member of various national and international medical associations and go to their yearly congresses which give me insights into the latest state of the art trends.
I still receive printed editions of various international journals as JBJS and Global Spine Surgery but also journals from national associations of orthopedics and surgery as „Der Unfallchirurg“ and the DGU magazine. And I do read them. However, I know that this will change in the future and I will move towards apps to keep me up-to-date. This is why I think that platforms as Insights Orthopedics go into the right direction. We need technologies that guide us through the jungle of information.
If you take a look at my desk, you see that there are tons of tons of journals piled up. I know that these will dissappear one day. I will go green. But one thing is for sure to stay: my textbooks will keep their spot on my shelf – even in 15 years.
IO: One last question: What is on your iPad home screen?
Prof. Wanner: It is actually quite boring. I have not started using apps that much, so what you can see are a couple of apps from AOTrauma, Anatomy flashcards, local newspapers and a soccer app.