Traditionally a journal club is a group of individuals who meet regularly to discuss recent articles in the medical literature. They have existed in one form or another for over 100 years1 but all have the same basic goals.
There are many approaches to the settings and conduct of journal clubs, but they have become increasingly widespread as a component of advanced clinical rotations for students in the health care professions. At Wilkes most pharmacy faculty preceptors include a journal club presentation as part of their P4 rotation requirements. The preceptor will give guidelines for the paper being reviewed (e.g., article publication date, relevance to group, etc.) and for what is expected of the presenter (e.g., length of presentation, timeframe for distributing copies, etc.) and the attendees (e.g., read article beforehand, participate in discussion, etc.).
1. Linzer M: The journal club and medical education: over one hundred years of unrecorded history. Postgrad Med J. 1987;63:475-8.
The primary benefits of participating in a journal club relate to the goals of such groups—improved education and improving clinical practice.
Student members can improve their reading habits and gain practice in critiquing and appraising research; they can polish their presentation and communication skills; they can network and improve dialogue with other students and professionals; and they can see how the best research can improve evidence-based and quality care.
For experienced professionals the benefits are similar: they can keep abreast of new knowledge; they can practice the skills of interpreting research data; they can network and improve interpersonal relationships with peers and other specialists; and they can encourage the translation of research into practice to improve outcomes.