Education Resource Email #5: Fast Facts and Concepts

Fast Facts and Concepts for Ed-SIG

Fast Facts and Concepts (“FF”) are a series of short, peer-reviewed monographs on a wide variety of palliative care topics. They are published on the EPERC website at the Medical College of Wisconsin, as well as co-published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine. FF were started in around the year 2000, as part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation palliative care residency education project that David Weissman MD ran. Drew Rosielle MD has edited them since 2007, with assistance from Sean Marks MD since 2013. More information about the editorial board and process is available on the FF website.

Using FF as an educational-resource.

  1. FF are developed to be practical & clinically relevant point-of-care resources. We write/edit them with residents in mind, although we hear that they are used widely by medical students, residents, attending & faculty physicians, nurses, social workers, and administrators. They are aimed at non-palliative specialists, but would be relevant for palliative learners such as fellows, especially in the first 6 months. The idea behind FF is to give the reader both a broad overview of a topic, as well as practical tips in approaching a patient or certain situation, whether it is extubating a patient to ‘comfort care,’ going into a family meeting one worries is going to be contentious, to seeing a cancer patient in clinic who complains of severe fatigue.

  2. FF are based in evidence, as well as evidence-based. While always peer reviewed, as FF (and the field of HPM in general) evolved, it became more important for them to be evidence-based. The current editorial stance is that they have to be as evidence-based as much as there is evidence, and transparent about the level of evidence behind any recommendation. That said, much of our practice remains empiric, and we continue to believe there’s a role for common sense and the wisdom of clinicians, and FF include a lot of that, as well. They are ‘evidence-based,’ insofar as they’ve been investigated and shown to improve medical resident’s palliative knowledge (

  3. Ideas for using them as teaching tools:

    1. When working with learners on, for instance, a palliative consult service, have them pull 2-3 relevant FF for each new patient they see and share them with peers on the team each morning after rounds (etc).
    2. Use them for ‘academic detailing.’ A colleague asks you why you do something, give them the FF as a starting point.

  4. FF for fellows:

    1. FF are peer-reviewed, and published in an indexed journal, and are great scholarly project for fellows. Ask anyone who has written one, the editorial process for them is demanding and meticulous.
    2. If a fellow is interested in writing one, please make sure they contact Drew Rosielle ( before starting. There are 10+ being worked on at any given time, and so fellows should make sure it’s not a ‘spoken-for’ topic before starting work.

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