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Teach the World Medicine Offers Free Internal Medicine Education to Everyone

An idea conceived out of the frustration of a University of Louisville resident who missed an important faculty lecture because he had to care for a patient, has developed into an online sensation that has published more than 100 lectures and has garnered just short of 700,000 lecture views since January 2014.

Michael J. Burk, M.D., chief medical resident at UofL and founder and managing director of—a free and open access website that houses lectures of the UofL School of Medicine faculty—is the brainchild of founder and managing director Michael J. Burk, M.D., chief medical resident at UofL.

“The big idea behind Louisville Lectures is that we have the opportunity here at UofL to make a world class medical education—especially with a focus on internal medicine—free and available online in an open source format,” Dr. Burk said.

Most physicians, he said, love to teach, share and talk about ideas. “It’s even in the original Hippocratic oath—to teach my teacher’s children.”

The mission of Louisville Lectures is to “teach the world medicine.” It has a specific focus to educate medical students, residents, physicians and other medical professionals. The site offers videos, a blog and a podcast on a variety of subjects ranging from allergy and immunology to grand rounds lectures. But it’s also open to anyone with an interest in internal medicine.

“As far as we know, Louisville Lectures is the first internal medicine #FOAMed (Free Open Access to Medical Education) project with the goal of creating a complete curriculum for medicine,” Dr. Burk said.

UofL faculty are also using the lectures for board recertification. Seventeen of the lectures are certified for Continuing Medical Education (CME) in the U.S. and abroad. Forty percent of viewers are from outside the U.S., with viewers in more than 170 countries.

Kentucky physicians have to average approximately 20 hours of CME each year. While most of the lectures on the site are free, the CME lectures cost $9.99 per credit hour. Dr. Burke said the money is used to support the residency program and training of young physicians at UofL.

Participants can see the CME lecture before paying for it.

“A lot of these require payment before you can review what you buy,” he said. “Our system is different. You can watch the download or podcast and then complete the required assessment and pay for the credit.”

The idea took a team of people to launch. In January 2014, Dr. Burk downloaded several dozen lectures and showed a working prototype to Jennifer Koch, M.D., program director of UofL’s internal medicine residency program. To get all the faculty in the department on board, they worked through different ideas and concepts and worked with faculty to add more lectures.

Dr. Burk credits several others as integral to the success of the launch of the website. It begins with Scott Weingart, M.D., who created EMCrit, a blog that covers emergency medicine and critical care, with this FOAM concept. He then added other residents, Laura Bishop, M.D.,—who’s now part of the Internal Medical and Pediatrics faculty at UofL, and one of the associate program directors for the medicine pediatrics program—and Brady Wright, M.D., who’s now at a fellowship at the University of Washington.

The idea also had the support of the dean’s office and Jesse Roman, M.D., chair of UofL’s Department of Medicine, who, Dr. Burk said, “has been incredibly supportive.” The majority of the work is done by residents who design the curriculum, review the content, edit, write and design the website.

“Louisville Lectures grew from our residents’ idea that our lectures are great and could benefit others,” said Nancy Kubiak, M.D., an internal medicine faculty member at UofL. “What a testament to them thinking outside the box! It has engaged our residents in ways I could not imagine. They review the lectures for content, they learn from the lectures, they promote learning all over the world. How awesome.”

Colleagues appreciate their efforts as well.

“I think we have great lecturers at UofL to watch live, but it’s especially useful to be able to pause, rewind or re-watch lectures through Louisville Lectures,” said Sanjay Patel, D.O., a second year resident at UofL.

Brittany P. Cavanaugh, D.O., a third year resident at UofL, said, “I often use Louisville Lectures during my downtime on call days in the hospital to catch up on any didactic days that I’ve missed.” She also uses the lectures as a reference when she has a clinical question regarding the management of a patient she is treating.

The podcasts were also helpful to Nancy Kubiak, M.D., Professor of Medicine and an Associate Program Director for the Internal Medicine Residency Program at UofL, who, while training for a mini marathon, would listen to the lectures.

“It was a great way to train my body and my brain,” she said.

Louisville Lectures has expanded to offer a collection of TED Talks and readings to provide UofL undergraduate medical school students in the Distinction in Business and Leadership track access to some of the key concepts of leadership.

“Having an understanding about ethics and decision making, how to manage a team well, how to actually run a business and understand how all of the more complicated things in health care work,” Dr. Burk said, would help complete the curriculum for a physician.

He firmly believes this includes being a leader, not just within your team and your hospital, but also within your community.

“We want to build out a clearinghouse for information and training, especially for physicians,” Dr. Burk said.

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