Must-read: getting started in online emergency medicine education and FOAMed

June 28, 2014, 6:40 pm


Five Strategies to Effectively Use Online Resources in Emergency Medicine. Thoma B et al. Ann Emerg Med 2014 Jun 21 [Epub ahead of print]


FOAM (Free Open Access Meducation) was born, legend has it, in 2012 during an international conference in Dublin, as Dr. Mike Cadogan  stared into the dregs of a pint of Guinness wondering how to bring together the explosion of education-themed social media activity in the fields of emergency medicine and critical care. The bottom of his glass suggested an appropriate acronym.

Since then, of course, the sheer volume of #FOAMed  material on the web has expanded dramatically, and an international conference (SMACC) has developed around the concept. Use of FOAM resources is so prevalent — especially among younger trainees and physicians — that even those initially reluctant to jump on board are now seeing it as an essential tool.

Those new to FOAM often become overwhelmed and begin wondering first how to access quality material, and then how to filter and manage the massive amount of content available. This excellent article is the best place I know to start. Even those already proficient in #FOAMed will learn of valuable new tools and resources.

The five strategies recommended by Thoma et al are:

  1. Use an news aggregator (RSS reader) to keep up with latest content posted. (The authors mention Feedly, which is the aggregator I use.)
  2. Use an application that downloads selected podcasts and presents them in an organized manner. (I use Instacast.)
  3. Use curated compilations such as the Life in the Fast Lane Review.
  4.  Use social networks (eg, Twitter) to receive and broadcast information and content.
  5. Use custom search engines such as FOAMSearch that are geared towards retrieving hits from quality emergency medicine and critical care resources.

The authors also discuss future directions and obstacles, including the struggle to establish FOAM as a valid and valuable academic activity worthy of recognition. Articles such as this are crucial steps towards winning that struggle.

(TPR is honored that it was listed in the paper as recommended FOAMed resource.)

Annals of Emergency Medicine has another important article in the works along similar lines. “Integration of Social Media in Emergency Medicine Residency Curriculum” is a thorough description about how online resources were utilized by the program at the Department of Emergency Medicine, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Both articles are must-reads.

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