Journal Club in Residency Education: An Evidence-based Guide to Best Practices from the Council of Emergency Medicine Residency Directors

West J Emerg Med. 2018 Jul;19(4):746-755. doi: 10.5811/westjem.2018.4.37507. Epub 2018 May 15.


Journal clubs are an important tool for critically appraising articles and keeping up-to-date with the current literature. This paper provides a critical review of the literature on the design and structure of journal clubs in residency education with a focus on preparation, topic selection, implementation, and integration of technology. Recommendations for preparation include developing clearly defined goals and objectives that are agreed upon by all journal club participants; mentorship from experienced faculty members to ensure appropriate article selection, maintenance of structure, and applicability to objectives; distribution of articles to participants 1-2 weeks prior to the scheduled session with reminders to read the articles at predetermined intervals; and the use of a structured critical appraisal tool for evaluating the articles. Recommendations for topic selection include selecting a primary objective of either critical appraisal or informing clinical practice and ensuring that the articles align with the objective; involving learners in the topic- and article-selection process; and having the article selection driven by a specific clinical question. Recommendations for implementation include hosting sessions in the evening and away from the hospital environment; providing food to participants; hosting meetings on a monthly basis at regularly scheduled intervals; mandating journal club attendance; and using theories of adult learning. Recommendations for integration of technology include using previously established, effective strategies and determining the feasibility of creating an online journal club versus joining an established journal club. It is the authors' intention that after reading this paper readers will have new strategies and techniques for implementing and running a journal club at their home institutions.

MeSH terms

  • Emergency Medicine / education*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Learning
  • Physician Executives*
  • Review Literature as Topic*