Difficult to master (and even harder to teach), the area of ECG interpretation has spawned an entire learning industry devoted to the topic. We take a Google deep dive to evaluate you 20 of the the best #FOAMed and paid ECG courses available online.
ECG Course selection criteria
Inclusion criteria: The ECG course had to be
- in the English language
- readily accessible online, without requiring a formal application process
- found within the first 50 organic Google search results for “ECG/EKG course online” including geographical permutations for UK, US, Canada, New Zealand, or Australia
- a structured course providing students with a defined learning path, not just a series of references/examples and practice cases.
- provide a breadth of learning from basic to advanced applicable to the majority of health care providers such nurses, paramedics, EMT, PA, physicians
- Some courses e.g. Healio and ECGCourse were excluded as they prevented access to residents of the UK and European Union.
- No free course met all of the inclusion criteria. However the best of the FOAMed resources are listed at the end of the post.
Top 10 Paid Resources
Medmastery is pretty impressive. The learning platform has accrued a bunch of prestigious awards over the last few years on the back of their simple didactic presentation and use of world-renowned educators. “We only teach you what’s really relevant and leave out the rest.”
Medmastery has full CME accreditation with ACCME and UEMS, and offers three separate ECG courses designed to take students from amateur level through to total mastery. The course structure is logical and the content concise getting to the core of essential knowledge rather than padding with superfluous material. Medmastery states its courses are designed to not overwhelm students but rather equip them with the ‘20% of skills that will help to solve over 80% of cases‘ – no mean feat.
Many of the learning platforms reviewed focus on knowledge-acquisition, whereas Medmastery seems to be more about building solid foundation skills and promoting and wide-based knowledge platform. Check out the ECG Yellow Belt; ECG Blue Belt and ECG Black Belt Courses on a free trial membership and get the first chapter of every course for free.
- Accredited CME points
- Entirely video-based
- Comprehensive downloadable books included
- Membership gets you full access to all courses and workshops across Medmastery
- Pricier than other options but you get access to more courses and are free to cancel any time.
- $39 USD/month full access to entire library of courses, case-based workshops, and CME
2. ECG Weekly
ECG Weekly is a case based ECG educational tool aimed to provide regular, useful, contextual in-line learning in a a video-based format. The educational team is led the inimitable Amal Mattu, tenured professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine; and Ali Farzad emergency physician at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.
The weekly ECG cases are augmented by video explanations or ‘ECG Workouts’ with the key teaching points and references in easily digestible bullet-point format, available to review and download. A large portion of the content is available in FOAMed format, and access to the full site is very affordable at a mere $1 a week and includes access to cardiology literature reviews
- Case based format useful for strengthening and advancing knowledge
- Easily digestible and regularly updated
- Low cost to entry
- Active discussion board with further learning opportunities
- Accredited CME points
- Assumes a basic level of knowledge of ECG interpretation
- No specific learning structure on entry, ad hoc syllabus suited to more advanced learners
- $1 USD/week; $3 USD/month; $26 USD/year
- Full access to entire library of cases and literature review
- Institutional licenses and discounts available
3. ECG Academy
The ECG Academy is another great resource for anyone looking to up their ECG game with a growing list of medical/nursing and PA schools subscribed to the resource. “Learn To Read Electrocardiograms – By Watching Video Tutorials.”
ECG Academy was created by Dr. Nicholas Tullo, a cardiac electrophysiologist with a passion for teaching and has been reviewed previously on LITFL. Courses have been designed for all levels of learner from cardiology technicians to fellows. The site offers three levels of courses, incrementally increasing the learners knowledge base and allowing them to progress to the next learning tier.
With over 60 hours of ECG education offered across all three tiers, learners have the option to start with the basics or shoot straight through to the most advanced level. In addition to the three ECG courses, Dr Tullo also provides weekly ChalkTalks which are 5-6 minute ‘how to‘ video tutorials based on a single rhythm strip or 12-lead ECG.
Participants can claim Category 2 CME points for completing the certificate, but at this time not the courses are not approved for Category 1 CME.
Pricing is flexible with options to complete a certificate for a fixed price or subscribe for continuous access to each course level. For those looking to get their feet a little wet first, the ECG Academy also offers a free basic subscription which gets you access to 3 hours of content and 10 ChalkTalks.
- 60+ hours of content available
- Flexible subscription options
- Weekly ChalkTalks for regular ECG practise
- Intensive course for those without the time to invest
- Only offers ECG courses
- No accredited CME 1 points
- $4.95 USD/month for weekly ChalkTalks
- $9.95/month (Basic); $14.95/month (Intermediate); $17.95/month (Advanced)
4. BMJ Learning
Using a mixture of 3D animation, audio narrative, images, and detailed text, this ECG course by BMJ Learning is an interesting one. As you would expect from one of the world’s leading medical journals, BMJ Learning has all of its courses undergo a peer-review process and this course is no exception.
The course offers 16 modules of increasing difficulty (and intensity) with a huge amount of information crammed into the 14 hours and 30 minutes of the course. The course covers basic interpretation and abnormalities of clinical significance. There is also a reference list of key abnormalities with ECG examples and a (small) library of ECGs to practice.
BMJ Learning courses are accredited for CME/CPD by colleges, associations, and authorities from around the world but not with specific accredited ACCME/UEMS CME points
- Low-cost option (BMJ Learning is free if you are a BMA member)
- £95/yr subscription gets you access to all courses from BMJ learning
- CME points recognised by many medical organisations. BMJ Learning Accreditation with global Colleges
- Courses are not specifically aimed at medical professionals; they cover a very wide range of health disciplines.
- For primary care physicians, courses tend to be knowledge-based vs skill-based.
- Cost – £34/year for students; £69/year (nurses/other health care professionals) and £95/year for physicians
5. ECG Waves
This Clinical ECG Interpretation course is centered around the ECG interpretation book of Dr Araz Rawshani. It offers videos to supplement the textbook content. For a one-off cost of $100 (currently selling for $15), this is more of an online e-textbook purchase with video tutorials and ECG tests thrown in for free.
The content is comprehensive and you can check out some parts of the book or trial some ECG tests for free if you want to get a good look before you buy. This is a structured program and the difficulty builds up gradually compared to other books which oversimplify content in a bid to keep it print-friendly.
- Low one-off cost
- Price includes future updates, and the site is expanded/updated regularly
- Videos are an adjunct to, rather than the primary tool of teaching
- $15 USD for students; $19 USD for professionals
- **UPDATE** The author of ECGwaves has provided readers with a further 50% discount by using the coupon code “LITFL” at checkout
6. Simple Education
Simple Education Essential Guide to electrocardiogram (ECG) interpretation. 11-part comprehensive guide to ECG interpretation with over 3 hours of video content and course manual for download.
Taught by electrophysiologist Prof Richard Shilling and Cardiologist Dr Andrew Sharp, this course is designed to give doctors a solid background in ECG interpretation. With case examples and an MCQ quiz at the end, this course is for those looking for a quick entry to ECG interpretation with a little more depth than the Cardiotute course.
With only 3 stars out of 5 as voted by course-takers however, it may be good as an adjunct to your learning rather than your primary source of ECG training.
- Short crash course into ECG interpretation
- Rating by course-takers not particularly high
- No accredited CME points
- $59.99 one-off payment
- FREE with Simple Premium account ($30 USD/month)
7. EMedHome – Advanced ECG Workshop
The Premier ECG Workshop is an advanced course with over 7 hours of personal instruction by Dr. Amal Mattu, a renowned educationalist specialising in Emergency Medicine cardiology. The program aims to prime the user with the ability to interpret ECGs like an expert!
Course covers more advanced topics, subtle and sinister signs and diagnosis not to be missed. Topic covered include:
- Recognizing ACS
- Subtle ECG Manifestations of Cardiac Ischemia
- ECG Mimics of Cardiac Ischemia
- Diagnosing Dysrhythmias
- Bradydysrhythmias and AV Blocks
- Wide Complex Tachydysrhythmias: Myths and Pitfalls
- Syncope, Sudden Death, and the ECG
Upon completion of this course, you are eligible to receive up to 10 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™
- Accredited CME points
- Entirely video-based
- Takes reading ECGs to the next level to teach the user about subtle signs of ischemia, infarction and dysrhythmia that shouldn’t be missed
- Course assumes the user has have some basic proficiency in reading ECGs
- Deep dive into advanced ECG principles, can be a little overwhelming at first
- $299 USD full access to entire library of courses, case-based workshops, and CME
Corexcel offers a different option to the other courses reviewed here. Rather than following a set learning pathway, the platform monitors student progress and adapts based on your learning needs. This allows you to concentrate on ECG subject areas you may be having problems with, while focusing less on concepts you already understand.
Though it doesn’t list the duration of the course, it is advertised as an introduction to ECG so we suspect it is more suited to students and early-career physicians. Certificates are generated once a student reaches a 95% average rating across all of the exercise categories.
- Only access course for one year
- CME accreditation limited to IACET
Cardiotute has been around for a long time. And by long, we mean it won an Australian Achiever Award back in 2001. The course consists of 15 video tutorials, a downloadable workbook and the option to purchase a DVD of the course
Described as ‘relevant to division 1 registered nurses, ambulance officers and medical practitioners‘ the course outlines basic ECG principles with more specific review of infarctions; ischaemia and arrythmias. The brevity of the course would suit those with very little prior ECG experience; those requiring a refresher in ECG principles or those with access to a DVD player.
- Very short course (40 minutes)
- Aimed at beginners in ECG interpretation. Likely not suitable for more experienced physicians.
- No accredited CME points
Medvarsity describes itself as ‘India’s leading online medical certification and training company‘. Their 12-Lead ECG course provides 20 hours of learning content aimed at health professionals across the board. It is not subscription-based but rather, a course you pay for outright and must complete within 3 months of commencing.
Though we didn’t get past the paywall, the curriculum shown on the site appears to be in line with the content provided by other institutions reviewed here. With an overall rating of 3.7 by Medvarsity users, the platform may be worth a look but it’s difficult to gauge the quality of the course without any previews available.
- Lots of content
- Wide variety of courses
- No information provided about course instructors
- No previews or trial options available
- Must complete within 3 months
- No accredited CME points
Each of the courses reviewed here have their strengths. If you are looking for a structured educational course from basic to advanced then Medmastery and the ECG Academy offer the best value proposition. Both offer robust, in-depth ECG courses with a variety of teaching formats at very reasonable prices. Both are taught by well-regarded teachers, offer multiple levels based on existing skill level, and are easy to follow.
For contextual case-based ECG education then ECG weekly is hard to beat, world renowned teaching in easily digestibnle format, a great way to augment your ECG knowledge. For a deep dive into ECG and nothing else, the ECG Academy might be for you, with 90+ hours of ECG education, you‘ll definitely get your money‘s worth. If you don’t have a lot of spare time and need to maximise the time you spend mastering ECG and if you want an option that gives you access to a wide variety of skill-based courses, Medmastery is probably your best bet.
If you prefer a text based approach, then the ECG waves course with eBook looks promising with it’s expanding database and low cost to entry at present.
Free FOAMed Resources
Most of the free ECG resources we found didn’t quite meet all the inclusion criteria but they were so fabulous, we’ve included them here anyway. These are a great supplement to your ECG learning experience and some of these resources are comprehensive enough to help you create your own ECG learning pathway if you’d prefer not to go with a paid course option.
- ECG Quiz – ECG Interpretation
- Unique point: Practice with over 200 12-lead ECG strips
#EM3 ECG Interpretation Quiz
- ECG Quiz – ECG Interpretation
- Unique point: Systematic approach to interpreting the 12-lead ECG. Differentiate between common Emergency Department arrhythmias
- ECG interpretation and triage
- Unique point: Review the 10 ECGs presented to you and assess their acuity.
Practical Clinical Skills
- Unique point: online ECG ‘Workbook’ to practice your ECG analysis skills and learn over 40 different types of ECG tracings.
- ECGPedia – The ECG course
- Unique point: Presented as the ‘Wikipedia for ECG’ so very easy to navigate and is content-rich.
EKG Interpretation with Dr Eric Strong
- EKG Interpretation Video playlist
- Unique Point: Over 7 hours of video content presented through their Youtube channel as a structured playlist.
- ECG Quest learning portal and Quizzes
- Unique Point: Taking FOAMed ECG resources and creating evidence based self-learning quizzes
ECG Analysis Queen’s University
- Analysis and Interpretation of the Electrocardiogram
- Unique Point: Short, sweet and to the point. Good basics Overview
- ECG Assessment – an online course for Healthcare providers
- Unique Point: This is actually a paid course but you can access it for free for 4 weeks after signing up
- ECG Self-assessment program for Students and Clinicians
- Unique Point: Case-based program; browse by cases or diagnoses, also option to view random cases.
ECG Made Simple
- ECG Made Simple – Stepwise Tutorials and practice ECG
- Unique Point: Over 700 ECG tracings are available for study with increasing levels of difficulty (5 different levels).
- SkillStat 6 second ECG challenge
- Unique Point: An interface that simulates live ECG tracings to help you quickly learn the unique features of 27 different types of ECG patterns.
- ECG Academy- free lessons, drills and quizzes
- Unique Point: Offers lessons, cases, and reference sheets in a semi-structured format.