FOAM is the Concept, #FOAMed is the conversation
FOAM—Free Open Access Medical Education—is a concept of sharing useful resources for medical education with the world online. This allows any interested person to consume these resources at their leisure.
Emergency Medicine Australasia, the publication from ACEM, is currently exploring the role of FOAM in Emergency Medicine education, and a good introduction from FOAM thought leaders Scott Weingart (@emcrit, emcrit website) and Brent Thoma (@brent_thoma, BoringEM) is available from the journal.
Some good sites (these are all emergency & critical care based)to get an idea of what is available via FOAM are:
- Life in the Fast Lane - see their introduction to FOAM
- Academic Life in Emergency Medicine
- St Emlyn's
- Don't forget the bubbles (paediatrics)
You'll find more FOAM sites by following links from these sites, as well as following #FOAMed (the conversation) on twitter. There are other variants as well, such as #FOAMcc for critical care, #FOAMtox for toxicology and #FOAMlit for literature.
How I use FOAM
In general there are 2 main uses I have for FOAM resources:
- Keep up to date with news, articles and the latest ideas in my area of interest (emergency medicine and critical care)
- Finding good resources on topics that I'm researching
Keeping Up to Date
In general, I browse twitter to see if anything good has come up, and, if so, I'll either read it straight away or put it in Pocket (more detail below). Then I check my emails and do the same, then I'll browse Feedly. Doing that, there's normally a couple of articles or blog posts of interest each day.
1. Use Twitter
I follow key people who tweet about areas I'm interested in: emergency medicine, critical care, ECG interpretation, ultrasound, toxicology, key articles... I don't follow (many) random celebrities.
As a starting point, you can't go past Minh Le Cong (@ketaminh), a prehospital and retrieval doctor with the RFDS in Queensland. Follow him and you'll see all the important topics, discussions and articles. As you find people who tweet interesting things, check out who they follow and start to expand your network that way. You could follow this website (@ADLEmergDocs), or check out the other FOAM contributors that we follow.
2. Subscribe to useful updates
I get emailed lists of good recent articles and resources, so I don't have to go searching:
- Subscribe to Life in the Fast Lane weekly review and research and review
- Try Evidence updates from BMJ/McMaster
- Pubmed email alerts for customised searches
- Most blogs also let you subscribe to their updates
3. Keep current with quality resources
The list of websites above is a good start, but there are many, many others.
I use Feedly to aggregate all the latest posts from the blogs I follow. It's quite simple to register an account and then add as many blogs as you so desire (for instance, just search for emergency medicine, and see what comes up).
4. Keep it manageable
- Pocket - This is a bookmarking service that is online, so available across all of your devices. I use this to bookmark articles and posts I come across and want to read later
- Some people use If This then That to automate some actions, (eg if I favourite something on twitter, then add it to pocket), but I've not got into this yet.
Finding Good Resources
If you're looking for info on a specific topic, you can find most things FOAMy via FOAMSearch. This uses Google's patented search technology to explore a large bank of FOAM websites, including most of those listed below.
You can also look for good reviews and summaries from places such as TheNNT (who do in-depth reviews of investigations and therapies—for instance, check out their review of thrombolysis in stroke, or assessment of high-risk headaches). You'll also find good reviews of evidence from The Skeptic's Guide to Emergency Medicine, Academic Life in Emergency Medicine, Em Lit of Note, Rebel EM and Critical Care Reviews.
If you're looking for procedural advice, then you can find many instructional videos via good old youtube, as well as standard operating procedures from some places like Sydney HEMS. Eric Strong's series on ABGs is very useful. Amal Mattu's ECG blog is well worth the time.
As disclosed, this presentation was largely sourced from Tim Leeuwenburg's slideset from a similar talk given at the Internal Medicine Society meeting in September 2014. Mine is a much abridged and edited version.
This video is his too:
So what other FOAM resources have you found useful in your ongoing education?