Making a Case for Case Reports
We agree that choosing a case can be difficult and therefore ask our learners to consider other learning opportunities beyond “zebras.” For example, many cases teach clinical reasoning or patient safety and can be published in journal formats that specifically highlight these topics. Ultimately, we encourage our learners to emphasize what they learned from a case and consider how it can teach others.
At our institution, we have a competitive internal case report process for our residents that combines mentorship and support to present cases at regional meetings. Before regional conference deadlines, residents submit case reports, which are anonymously rated by faculty based on their relevance, teaching value, and overall quality. We then provide financial support for the highest rated to attend the conference, although the benefits extend to others, beyond those who are accepted. Through the process, all of our residents gain faculty mentorship, improve their writing and editing skills, and hone their clinical reasoning and presentation skills.
For those accepted to present, we organize practice sessions during which faculty volunteers coach residents following a systematic approach.2 One of the article’s authors, Rachel Katz, described the benefit of preparing emotionally to receive constructive criticism, which we have found through these sessions leads to a better final product and a well-prepared presenter. Throughout our 10-year experience with this process, learners have been enthusiastic and thankful for the experience. The benefits to learners and faculty are invaluable as both benefit from the mentoring process, camaraderie, and scholarship. Case reports are now an integral part of our culture and are celebrated and supported.