Dr Andy Neill on FOAMed
In 2008 I discovered through the joy of the iTunes store a medical podcast called EM:RAP (Emergency Medicine Reviews and Perspectives) hosted by a somewhat irreverent Australian Emergency Physician based in LA with a penchant for bad hats, corny jokes and blue screened backgrounds.
From EM:RAP I found the Rick and Jerry show (otherwise known as Emergency Medical Abstracts.) Rick Bukata and Jerry Hoffman were producing recorded cassette tapes of the EM literature in the mid 70s and mailing them to subscribers. They’re still doing this today… digitally at least.
I spent the next year of my life compulsively listening and reading everything I could find online about EM. There was a whole group of my EM peers, passionate about learning, sharing and wanting to get better. There were only a few such people in my ED but go online and there was a whole host of guys doing just what I wanted to do.
On a “nonclinical hiatus” in 2011 I took the plunge myself and started writing online, mostly to keep myself in touch with EM. A few months later I combined my “nonclinical hiatus” teaching anatomy with EM and started podcasting.
At ICEM 2012 I had the pleasure of meeting Mike Cadogan and trying to come up with a term he could use to replace “social media” to give us all something to unite around. Mike coined the term FOAM (free open access medical education, often referred to as FOAMed) at ICEM 2012 and things went exponential from there.
4 years later there are some 300 blogs, 40 or 50 podcasts and 1000s of EM providers from all round the world all freely producing and sharing material. The SMACC conference (Social Media and Critical Care) started in 2013 in Australia as a physical “meet and tweet” conference. there were well over 2000 at SMACC Chicago and Ireland is playing host to SMACC Dublin in June 2016. You can watch or listen to every single talk online on the site.
My clinical practice has been fundamentally changed by gaining access to the minds, blogs, podcasts, minds and personalities of some of the smartest and most passionate EM providers in the world.
The internet transformed how we communicate and share information. In medicine we still publish paper journals and textbooks some months or years after the information in them has been superseded. It’s no surprise that your juniors (and many enlightened senior EM docs) have embraced the potential here. FOAMed hasn’t eliminated the need to work, study and “crap detect” if anything these skills are all the more vital these days but it has brought together a group of passionate enthusiasts who are shaping EM as we know it and still see it as the best job in the world.