Why FOAM? Facts, Fallacies and Foibles

Reviewed and revised 6 February 2014

Still not convinced that you should be involved in FOAM?

In this talk I explore the facts, fallacies and foibles of ‘Free Open Access Med(ical edu)cation’ and hope to convince you that FOAM cannot be ignored and that you have a moral imperative to get involved.

I recorded the video for the first Slovenian emergency medicine trainees’ conference (@SolaUrgence on Twitter), being held at  the University Clinical Centre in Maribor, 6th and 7th December 2013. This talk formed the basis for a review article subsequently published in Emergency Medicine Australasia titled ‘Free Open-Access Medical education (FOAM) for emergency physicians’.

Here are the slides:

Here is the audio only version:

References and Links

Journal articles

  • Berger E. Web 2.0 in emergency medicine; specialty embracing the future of medical communication. Ann Emerg Med. 2012 Apr;59(4):21-23A. PubMed PMID: 22553857. [Free Full Text]
  • Greene J. Social Media and Physician Learning: Is It All Twitter? Ann Emerg Med. 2013;Nov;62(5):11-13A [Free Full Text]
  • Prober CG, Heath C. Lecture halls without lectures–a proposal for medical education. N Engl J Med. 2012 May 3;366(18):1657-9. doi: 10.1056/NEJMp1202451. PubMed PMID: 22551125. [Free Full Text]
  • Reiter DA, Lakoff DJ, Trueger NS, Shah KH. Individual interactive instruction: an innovative enhancement to resident education. Ann Emerg Med. 2013 Jan;61(1):110-3. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2012.02.028. Epub 2012 Apr 19. PubMed PMID: 22520994.
  • Shaw G. Don’t Call It Social Media: FOAM and the Future of Medical Education. Emergency Medicine News Feb 2013 doi: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000427050.81739.a1 [Full Text]
  • Young PJ, Nickson CP, Gantner DC. Can social media bridge the gap between research and practice? Crit Care Resusc. 2013 Dec;15(4):257-9. PubMed PMID: 24289505.
Suggested FOAM resources for Emergency Physicians and Critical Care doctors

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  1. says

    Awesome work Chris. Thanks for sharing.
    I’m starting to hear the word FOAM from all sorts of people at my hospital. People I never would have expected. You guys are doing amazing things.

  2. rfdsdoc says

    great work mate!
    interesting how the Slovenian EM community are using FOAMEd with these pre recorded vodcasts for their 1st conference..novel concept I thought to bring international speakers to their meeting !

    I guess one point I would suggest that you could have covered a bit more is how FOAMEd community motivates traditional learning. What I mean is that it encourages you to do more reading, check the facts, understand critical appraisal..so that you can shout into that megaphone with some credibility!

    Being part of the FOAMed conversation means you try to keep up to date in your own knowledge and experiences. Thats where the knowledge translation gold is. Hearing peers experience and opinion about the latest research and what it means.

    I know you did cover some of this during the presentation but I wanted to emphasise that one of the big fallacies is that folks think FOAMEd can replace traditional journal reading. In fact it actually encourages me to do it more! Since I started PHARM blog and podcast, started actively participating in FOAMEd, my journal reading, in breadth and frequency has exploded.

    Love the Osler references by the way!

    and the fact you are teaching ECG reading to your first born!

    • says

      Thanks Minh -- interesting points.
      Involvement in FOAM certainly motivates me to dig into the primary literature so that I can be an informed participant, but I’m not sure that is universal for people using FOAM.
      FOAM seems to adhere to the 1-9-90 rule of any internet community -- 1% creators, 9% active engagers and 90% observers -- the motivations and and consequences of being involved in FOAM may be different for each group.
      All the best

  3. says

    Agree -- FOAMed helps peer-to-peer communication & education -- the ‘corridor conversations’ shared with colleagues worldwide….

    …and like Minh says, encourages one to go back and critically appraise the literature and read, read, read more than before.

    Strong work.

  4. Aidan Burrell says

    Great talk Chris. FOAM is exciting and has a huge power to influence, but also potentially corruptible and could lose it way. Your talk is a call to arms to keep FOAM to the highest standards -- and you guys here at LITFL are leading the way.

  5. says

    Nice work Chris.
    There are so many misconceptions about FOAMed and this clears them all up in an easily digestible way.
    Also loved:
    -- 3 clear sections and clear take homes.
    -- perfect length podcast
    -- all images cc and referenced
    -- whole post referenced properly
    BUT no vegetable gags :(
    Want this to go on the smacc podcast channel too?

    • says

      Thanks Oli
      Always tempting to include vegetable gags but it seemed likely that some sober people might listen to this one…
      Good idea re: adding to the SMACC podcast channel