Journal clubs: an educational tool for veterinary practitioners

Victoria K. Llewelyn 1College of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4814, Australia.

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Andrejs Sitovs 2Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Rīga Stradinš University, Riga, LV-1004, Latvia.

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Marta Tikhomirov 3Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, 50375 Wrocław, Poland.

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Irene Sartini 4Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Sassari, 07100 Sassari, Italy.

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Tae Won Kim 5College of Veterinary Medicine, Chungnam National University, Daejeon 305764, South Korea.

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Mohaddeseh A. Tabari 6Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Amol University of Special Modern Technologies, Amol, Iran.

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Błażej Poźniak 3Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, 50375 Wrocław, Poland.

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Arifah Abdul Kadir 7Department of Veterinary Preclinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia.

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Aneliya Milanova 8Department of Pharmacology, Animal Physiology and Physiological Chemistry, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Trakia University, Stara Zagora, Bulgaria.

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Cristina Vercelli 9Department of Veterinary Science, University of Turin, 10095 Grugliasco TO, Italy.

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Mario Giorgi 10Department of Veterinary Sciences, University of Pisa, 56122 Pisa, Italy.

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The term journal club is likely familiar to readers and may prompt an adrenaline-fueled stress response as one recalls being a student desperately trying to find a suitable paper to present and time to adequately prepare. It is also likely that since graduation, few readers have given much thought to the purpose of these groups or, unless they pursued a career in academia, had the opportunity to participate in one. However, there are myriad benefits of regular journal club participation, and the process need not be an emotionally fraught experience. Indeed, regular journal club participation can and should be seen as a valuable source of continuing professional education for veterinary practitioners. Practitioners may, for example, use regular journal club meetings as opportunities to conduct clinical case conferences, review and deconstruct published reports to ensure they are keeping up with current best practices, and share insights and concerns with like-minded individuals. Even those not engaged in private clinical practice may find journal club participation to be valuable. University-based clinicians, for instance, can use journal clubs to ensure that they are staying current on the latest preclinical research, and veterinary researchers may use journal clubs to ensure that their own research reflects real-life problems in veterinary practice.

An Overview of Journal Clubs

In essence, a journal club is a group of like-minded individuals holding regular meetings to discuss and critique developments in a specific area of interest. Journal clubs are common in human medicine, where the term has been used for > 160 years,1 and are used both for student training and to provide continuing professional education for clinicians. In contrast, although journal club participation is a common part of the training provided at veterinary teaching hospitals and other tertiary veterinary referral centers, it is rarely used for continuing education by veterinary practitioners following veterinary college graduation.

The potential benefits of journal club participation cannot be understated. Research has shown, for instance, that regular journal club participation leads to improvements in overall knowledge, reading habits and research awareness, confidence in one's ability to critically evaluate research, and presentation and communication skills.2–5 Journal club participation can also help strengthen collegial relationships and can help new graduates and inexperienced individuals improve their knowledge and understanding of a specialty subject area in a nonjudgmental environment. Removal from the assessment process associated with schooling can motivate journal club participants and inspire them to work to develop their skills, reinforcing the concept of lifelong learning.

Of course, in today's time-strapped professional environment, traditional journal clubs that require participants to meet regularly in person often fail because of low participation rates. Further, for certain specialized topics, interested individuals may be geographically isolated from each other, reducing the likelihood that a traditional journal club could be successful. On the other hand, it might be argued that the intrinsic value of journal club participation may actually be enhanced for such individuals, precisely because of their insularity and remoteness.

Journal Clubs in the Digital Age

With the advent of new communication technologies, journal club meetings can now be held through a variety of digital platforms, including webinars6–8 and social media platforms.5 This move to digital platforms means that many of the previous limitations to regular journal club participation can now be easily overcome. Further, because virtual journal club participation is not restricted by physical location, international perspectives can easily be included. Finally, virtual journal club meetings have a distinct cost advantage over traditional networking meetings, including traditional journal club meetings, because there are no ongoing costs associated with venues or catering.

Case Study: A Virtual Journal Club for Veterinary Pharmacology

In 2012, one of the authors (TWK) was a visiting scholar in veterinary pharmacology at a European university, where he worked with two local researchers (MG, CV) to develop a research project that is still ongoing. When this author returned home, he and the two local researchers missed the regular discussions on current and emerging topics in veterinary pharmacology that they had enjoyed, and they decided to establish a virtual journal club with weekly meetings held via Skype. Additional members were invited to join, and the club now has members from Europe, Asia, and the Pacific region.

The primary aim of our journal club is to educate members while supporting and fostering international discussion and collaboration in veterinary pharmacology. Although the primary focus is on pharmacokinetic studies, a specialty area of many members, members can present papers of interest from outside this field, provided there is scholarly benefit to the presenter in doing so. For example, a paper that describes a clinical technique or novel experimental method being considered for use by the presenter would be considered acceptable. In addition, members are encouraged to share any new findings or experiences with the journal club group, whether these are personal experiences, a result of discussions with other colleagues, or the product of congress or conference attendance. In this way, all attendees benefit from the distribution of knowledge and can contribute to its further dissemination with their own colleagues outside of journal club.

Papers that are presented during journal club meetings constitute the most recent advancements in the field and are no more than three years old. In the eight years since the journal club's inception, we have seen the ideas, findings, and innovations originally presented at journal club meetings become accepted fact, incorporated into standard textbooks, and taught to students. As a result, it is easy to see how regular participation in journal club meetings has provided timely continuing education to journal club members, allowing them to keep abreast of the newest techniques and research findings.

Over the years, we have found that 5 to 10 attendees is the optimal number for any meeting and that meetings should last about an hour. Presenters rotate each week until all members have had a chance to present. While undergraduate students are encouraged to participate, only doctoral students and professors are allowed to present. Our journal club meetings are held on a weekly basis, but the day and time are flexible, with the presenter making the final decision on the day and time for the meeting. In addition, the presenter is responsible for providing a copy of the paper for discussion to all journal club members at least three days before the scheduled meeting time. All journal club members are expected to inform the presenter whether they will be attending. Attendees are expected to have read the paper in advance and to have prepared at least two questions for the presenter or group. Finally, a moderator is assigned for each meeting to facilitate and encourage discussion of the paper.

We have found that journal club participation benefits both junior and senior members. For junior members, regular journal club participation provides the opportunity to rapidly develop skills required to be successful researchers, including oral presentation skills, the ability to interpret and present experimental results, and the ability to critically review published research. The development of these skills ensures that junior researchers do not learn through personal failure and that they are appropriately equipped to develop into successful researchers. In addition, practical research opportunities for junior researchers have been developed because of contacts made through our journal club,9–14 with much of this research still ongoing. For senior members, journal club participation promotes development of new ideas and perspectives and provides the potential to initiate new research studies and collaborations. Journal club meetings are useful not only because they allow for an exchange of ideas and experiences but also because they promote the sharing of resources, including teaching materials and research consumables. Additionally, because members have various areas of expertise and interest and come from different countries, our journal club meetings provide a unique opportunity to develop international teams with complementary competencies.

Participation in journal club also offers unique benefits to our members. Because all meetings of our journal club are held in English, non–English-speaking members have an opportunity to develop their English language skills. Members are also allowed to present their own original research prior to submission for publication, allowing the research to be discussed by experts before undergoing the peer review process. In addition, because our members come from various professional backgrounds, there are opportunities for holistic interactions. Clinicians can advise the group on real-life practice issues that may require further research and investigation, and researchers are able to provide guidance to practitioners in terms of drug selection and dosing based on their most recent research findings.

Although many of the benefits associated with participating in our journal club have a research focus, this is because of the primary interests of our club members. Most of the benefits of journal club participation are achievable regardless of participants' scope of practice. For example, although we highlight opportunities for international collaboration and research between members of our journal club, clinicians participating in a case-based journal club may find that participation provides opportunities to travel and practice internationally.

Tips for Starting a Virtual Journal Club

We hope that our experiences will be helpful for readers interested in establishing their own journal club. Further detailed information on the establishment of journal clubs, including virtual journal clubs, has been recently published,15–17 although with a distinct human medical focus. In our experience, member recruitment is the most challenging aspect of maintaining a successful journal club. We have found that direct personal contact with potentially like-minded individuals—either through conference attendance or when visiting other institutions—is the most common source of new members. Additionally, although we have found that flexible scheduling is helpful for maintaining journal club attendance, overall attendance at individual meetings fluctuates. Some members may leave temporarily or permanently owing to extenuating personal circumstances, whereas other members may not be able to participate on a regular basis because of difficulties juggling busy teaching or clinic schedules. Members are encouraged to participate when possible, and all are cognizant of the benefits gained from regular participation in journal club. We encourage readers with an interest in joining our group to contact us, and we welcome information on similar groups operating worldwide.

Conclusions

Regular participation in a journal club has the potential to provide benefits for all veterinary practitioners, whether newly graduated or experienced. Virtual journal clubs overcome many of the common difficulties associated with traditional journal club models and so may be ideal for practitioners juggling a busy professional schedule. In addition, virtual journal clubs provide an opportunity to easily develop international relationships and collaborations while engaging in learning. We encourage all readers to consider the myriad benefits regular journal club participation will have on their practice and to actively seek out or initiate their own journal club, so they too can reap the benefits of regular continuing professional education in the form of journal club participation.

Acknowledgments

Funding was provided by the Erasmus+ program (action KA107) to Dr. Giorgi for travel and teaching, which also allowed him to engage with and recruit new journal club members.

References

  • 1. Aronson JK. Journal clubs: 1. origins. Evid Based Med 2017;22:231.

  • 2. Hammond DA, McGinn K, Rech MA, et al. Professional benefits of a web-based journal club for critical care residents and their mentors. Am J Pharm Educ 2018;83:6907.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 3. Honey CP, Baker JA. Exploring the impact of journal clubs: a systematic review. Nurse Educ Today 2011;31:825831.

  • 4. Mazal J, Truluck C. Organizing and leading a journal club. Radiol Technol 2014;85:549553.

  • 5. Oliphant R, Blackhall V, Moug S, et al. Early experience of a virtual journal club. Clin Teach 2015;12:389393.

  • 6. Miller Quidley A, LeClaire A, Frasiolas JG, et al. Implementation of a national, web-based critical care pharmacy journal club. Am J Health Syst Pharm 2015;72:12601262.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 7. Yang PR, Meals RA. How to establish an interactive eConference and eJournal club. J Hand Surg Am 2014;39:129133.

  • 8. Zavell AE, Greenberg JN, Alam M, et al. A 30-minute, monthly, live, webinar-based journal club activity alters the self-reported behaviors of dermatologic surgeons. Dermatol Surg 2017;43:11441147.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 9. Kim TW, Della Rocca G, Di Salvo A, et al. Evaluation of pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of cimicoxib in fasted and fed horses. N Z Vet J 2015;63:9297.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 10. Kim T W, Łebkowska-Wieruszewska B, Owen H, et al. Pharmacokinetic profiles of the novel COX-2 selective inhibitor cimicoxib in dogs. Vet J 2014;200:7781.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 11. Kim TW, Vercelli C, Briganti A, et al. The pharmacokinetics and in vitro/ex vivo cyclooxygenase selectivity of parecoxib and its active metabolite valdecoxib in cats. Vet J 2014;202:3742.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 12. Lee H, De Vito V, Giorgi M, et al. Synergistic interaction between tapentadol and flupirtine in the rat orafacial formalin test. Eur J Pharmacol 2015;762:350356.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 13. Lee HK, DeVito V, Vercelli C, et al. Ex vivo antibacterial activity of levofloxacin against Escherichia coli and its pharmacokinetic profile following intravenous and oral administrations in broilers. Res Vet Sci 2017;112:2633.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 14. Salvadori M, Vercelli C, Vito VD, et al. Pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic evaluations of a 10 mg/kg enrofloxacin intramuscular administration in bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps): a preliminary assessment. J Vet Pharmacol Ther 2017;40:6269.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 15. Aronson JK. Journal clubs: 2. why and how to run them and how to publish them. Evid Based Med 2017;22:232234.

  • 16. Chetlen AL, Dell CM, Solberg AO, et al. Another time, another space. Acad Radiol 2017;24:273285.

  • 17. McGlacken-Byrne SM, O'Rahelly M, Cantillon P, et al. Journal club: old tricks and fresh approaches. Arch Dis Child Educ Pract Ed 2019;edpract2019–317374.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 1. Aronson JK. Journal clubs: 1. origins. Evid Based Med 2017;22:231.

  • 2. Hammond DA, McGinn K, Rech MA, et al. Professional benefits of a web-based journal club for critical care residents and their mentors. Am J Pharm Educ 2018;83:6907.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 3. Honey CP, Baker JA. Exploring the impact of journal clubs: a systematic review. Nurse Educ Today 2011;31:825831.

  • 4. Mazal J, Truluck C. Organizing and leading a journal club. Radiol Technol 2014;85:549553.

  • 5. Oliphant R, Blackhall V, Moug S, et al. Early experience of a virtual journal club. Clin Teach 2015;12:389393.

  • 6. Miller Quidley A, LeClaire A, Frasiolas JG, et al. Implementation of a national, web-based critical care pharmacy journal club. Am J Health Syst Pharm 2015;72:12601262.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 7. Yang PR, Meals RA. How to establish an interactive eConference and eJournal club. J Hand Surg Am 2014;39:129133.

  • 8. Zavell AE, Greenberg JN, Alam M, et al. A 30-minute, monthly, live, webinar-based journal club activity alters the self-reported behaviors of dermatologic surgeons. Dermatol Surg 2017;43:11441147.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 9. Kim TW, Della Rocca G, Di Salvo A, et al. Evaluation of pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of cimicoxib in fasted and fed horses. N Z Vet J 2015;63:9297.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 10. Kim T W, Łebkowska-Wieruszewska B, Owen H, et al. Pharmacokinetic profiles of the novel COX-2 selective inhibitor cimicoxib in dogs. Vet J 2014;200:7781.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 11. Kim TW, Vercelli C, Briganti A, et al. The pharmacokinetics and in vitro/ex vivo cyclooxygenase selectivity of parecoxib and its active metabolite valdecoxib in cats. Vet J 2014;202:3742.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 12. Lee H, De Vito V, Giorgi M, et al. Synergistic interaction between tapentadol and flupirtine in the rat orafacial formalin test. Eur J Pharmacol 2015;762:350356.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 13. Lee HK, DeVito V, Vercelli C, et al. Ex vivo antibacterial activity of levofloxacin against Escherichia coli and its pharmacokinetic profile following intravenous and oral administrations in broilers. Res Vet Sci 2017;112:2633.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 14. Salvadori M, Vercelli C, Vito VD, et al. Pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic evaluations of a 10 mg/kg enrofloxacin intramuscular administration in bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps): a preliminary assessment. J Vet Pharmacol Ther 2017;40:6269.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 15. Aronson JK. Journal clubs: 2. why and how to run them and how to publish them. Evid Based Med 2017;22:232234.

  • 16. Chetlen AL, Dell CM, Solberg AO, et al. Another time, another space. Acad Radiol 2017;24:273285.

  • 17. McGlacken-Byrne SM, O'Rahelly M, Cantillon P, et al. Journal club: old tricks and fresh approaches. Arch Dis Child Educ Pract Ed 2019;edpract2019–317374.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

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