Continuing education needs of health care professionals.


Formal continuing education for health professionals continues to grow around the base of courses, conferences, and general reading. These formats serve the indispensable function of keeping health professionals abreast of the state of medicine. Since most formal continuing education activities are planned for groups, they cannot address the specific information needed in the care of individual patients. Furthermore, the knowledge gained is memory-based, and it is misguided to believe that facts learned in lectures will be remembered accurately enough for patient-care applications. A recent study has demonstrated that physicians often want additional knowledge when they are caring for patients and that access to knowledge is often difficult and time consuming. Advances in computer and telecommunications technology may ultimately permit immediate short answers to specific questions that arise during medical practice. It is time to expand the activities of the National Library of Medicine and the libraries within the Regional Medical Library (RML) network that provide valuable information for health professionals by developing methods to answer specific questions on the spot while health professionals are caring for patients.

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