CAEP13: A BoringEM Review

I just returned from a marathon week at CAEP13 (the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians Annual Conference). While it was my 5th consecutive year of attendance, it was the first time that medical social media was on the radar with a twitter hashtag designated and presentations by at least one FOAMite (Ken Milne). I was excited to see how this would affect the conference as compared to the previous 4 CAEP’s that I attended. In the end there was some bad, some good and some optimism for the future.

The Bad

Social Media

From a conference perspective, I thought social media could have been incorporated much better. Some recommendations for CAEP14:

  • Make the internet access is free (or at least affordable!): Unfortunately, the fees at CAEP13 were way out of line. What is it with all of the expensive hotels charging exorbitant fees for internet while all of the cheap ones give it away free? In this case, wireless was available for the bargain price of only $85 CAN for the week (the daily fees were even more ludicrous).
  • Make the twitter feed more visible: While there was some live tweeting going on, you would not have known it unless you looked at your phone. The few screens displaying the live twitter feed were tiny and not located in places that provided much exposure. Hopefully in the future there will be larger screens in main meeting areas (ie the presenter area and lunch rooms)
  • Have the resident section continue what it was doing: I was impressed with the use of the Canadian EM Resident Facebook group by the CAEP’s resident section (follow their new twitter handle!). They provided timely, daily itineraries of the important events via the facebook page and e-mail.

While there was much to improve on, I was happy to see some uptake of social media at the conference. I think these baby steps are moving us in the correct direction! Maybe someday CAEP will be as exciting as the conferences in David Marcusmind

My own Live Tweeting

I was disappointed in my first attempt at live-tweeting an event. I attended the conference with the intention of doing so for the @ALIEMconf handle (if you enjoy live-tweets from EMCC conferences this handle is a MUST follow!). However, I was not able to tweet nearly as much as I had hoped. Leaving early, getting tied up by my own presentation, attending a bunch of meetings and an inability to pass up a few key networking opportunities left me missing some solid sessions. My apologies to Michelle Lin and the rest of the ALIEM crew for not doing a better job! I’ll definitely make it up should the opportunity arise in the future.

The Content

As a conference CAEP seems to focus primarily on research and its role as a national meeting for emergency physicians. Many of their non-research tracks focus on CanMEDS roles outside of the medical expert realm such as administration and education. While these are important and I hope they are maintained in future conferences, I wish there was more of an effort to provide exceptional edutainment on core medical expert content. Based on the response that Ken Milne’s presentation received, I think many of the other attendees would agree that this is what they are craving. Here’s a picture of the crowd overflowing into the lobby:

Photo credit: Ken Milne

Photo credit: Ken Milne

While CAEP will never be Essentials, Canada has some exceptional educators and I think they deserve a track to do what they do best.

The Optimism

Consensus Conference on Medical Scholarship

On the day prior to the conference opening ceremonies I attended a “Consensus Conference on Medical Scholarship” hosted by one of my research collaborators, Dr. Jonathan Sherbino. The large group at the meeting provided feedback on a group of educators’ definition and vision of educational scholarship. In general, I agreed with the vision of the group. As I looked down their list of the requirements for the highest level of medical scholarship I noticed that FOAM met all of them except one: peer review. Oh peer review, we meet again (see previous posts A Commitment to Pre-publication Peer Review, Arguments for a Journal of FOAM, FOAM: A Market of Ideas and Crowdsourced Instantaneous Review: The Peer Review of FOAM).

Even surrounded by many much wiser attendees, I couldn’t help myself: “What exactly do we mean by peer review? Pre-publication peer review? Post-publication peer review? Both? Through what processes?” My questions could have been phrased more honestly had I just asked: “Is there any way that my pet project will ever be considered to be of value to the educational community?”

While the wording stayed as written above, the responses made me optimistic that we were moving in a good direction. There seemed to be agreement that while our current system really only involves pre-publication peer review, post-publication peer review should be incorporated. No methods were discussed in any depth. There was concern that things like FOAM result in people being able to post work of dubious quality and call it scholarship. Moving forward, it was acknowledged impact is becoming the most valuable thing in the scholarly world and that internet-based publications with high impact may be valued… If only there were a way to measure that impact. Stay tuned for a follow-up post on this.


Like networking, except with FOAM.

While “FOAM” was not in the vocabulary of the majority of the conference attendees, it was insanely rewarding to meet the many people (primarily medical students) who said “hi” as a direct result of this blog. I found it awesome both that my mad ramblings have been useful and exciting that so many future emergency physicians have bought into a new and exciting method of knowledge translation.

Additionally, I had a lot of good discussions about FOAM with members of the CAEP Board, members of the CAEP14 planning committee (Stella Yiu and Ed Kowk) and the CAEP staff. I look forward to getting in touch and helping out however I can.

The Good

The First Annual CanFOAMed Supper Date

Meeting with the rest of the members of the Canadian FOAMed community was awesome. A huge thanks to Ken Milne for hosting Eve Purdy, Chris Bond, Stella Yiu, Todd Raine, Elisha T, Ed Kwok and I for dinner as well as bringing us together for a videocast. I hope watching it entertains you as much as it will likely embarrass me! (I did get to wear a sweet toque though.)

Additionally, the award ceremony made it clear that social media had made a splash. Two of the top awards were given to FOAMites. Ken Milne of TheSGEM took home the Canadian Teacher of the Year Award while I was honoured to receive the FRCPC Resident Leadership Award. While I credit the support, mentorship and opportunity provided by my residency program much more than my blog for the honour, it was great to see two FOAMites receiving acknowledgement.

CAEP Awards

@TheSGEM and after the awards ceremony


All in all, I had a blast at CAEP and look forward to contributing to the conference however I can in the future. I’m quite excited to see how it may evolve now that social media has entered the equation and we have several engaged physicians on the next organizing committee. If you have any ideas for how the conference can be improved for CAEP14, tweet Ed Kwok or Stella Yiu on the Ottawa organizing committee!

Feedback on the Consensus Conference component of this post was received from Jonathan Sherbino.

This post was peer reviewed by Eve Purdy

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)
Brent Thoma

Brent Thoma

Editor in Chief at BoringEM
+ Brent Thoma is a wannabe medical educator, researcher, and blogging geek who works at the University of Saskatchewan as an emergency physician, trauma team leader, and research director. He founded BoringEM as a resident and designed the CanadiEM website.
Brent Thoma


Emergency Physician & Research Director @USaskEM | Editor @WeAreCanadiEM/@ALiEMteam | #SoMe Editor @CJEMonline | Tweet & study technology-enhanced #MedEd
Not much time left for a Canadian EM Resident to win a trip to Vegas and @EssentialsofEM!! https://t.co/pkdB88AeD0 - 2 days ago
Brent Thoma
Brent Thoma

Latest posts by Brent Thoma (see all)

  • Sandy Dong

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Brent!
    Interesting perspective on the Medical Expert content of CAEP2013 (or lack thereof). I have stopped looking for Med Expert beyond new research at CAEP for years. The rounds and journal club at your local university should be the primary source of up to date literature and best practice. If it falls behind a conference (where topics are decided months in advance), its not doing it’s job!

    • admin

      Thanks for the reply, Dr. Dong!

      I think I’d agree with your sentiments on it being difficult for a conference to stay on the cutting edge. A common FOAMism from Joe Lex goes:

      If you want to know how we practiced medicine 5 years ago, read a textbook.
      If you want to know how we practiced medicine 2 years ago, read a journal.
      If you want to know how we practice medicine now, go to a (good) conference.
      If you want to know how we will practice medicine in the future, listen in the hallway and use FOAM.

      While rounds and journal clubs are certainly a primary resource, I still think there is merit in hearing the medical expert talks from Canada’s best EM educators. Maybe the topics will be a few months behind, but knowledge translation takes years. If CAEP wants to create more excitement for its conference I think this would at least be worth a try!

  • Nikita

    Live tweeting is not an easy skill and will take time as we all find the way to balance our own learning needs vs the desire to teach and share the conferences with the world. You did a great job and its awesome to know that we have a great partner in Canada!

    • admin

      Thanks Nikita!! :)

  • http://Www.thesgem.com Ken Milne

    Thank you for the kind words. CAEP 2013 appears to be a tipping point for SoMe. It was my pleasure to meet and dine with the CanFOAMed family. You are all very bright and inspiring people. As a famous educator Bill Nye the science guy always said…”you could change the world”. I have no doubt after meeting you, Eve and Chris that you are going to do just that – change the world.
    I look forward to seeing you and having a bigger dinner at CAEP 2014. Stella seems to understands the potential of SoMe and trust she will make it a bigger part of the meeting in Ottawa.
    Ken Milne

    • admin

      Thanks Ken!
      I’m certainly looking forward to seeing this all evolve. I hope you’re back for another round of BoB next year!
      I’m sure we’ll be in touch.

    • http://manuetcorde.wordpress.com purdye

      Thanks Ken for everything! It was awesome meeting everybody. We’ll do our best and know that you are already doing your part to “change the world” too!


  • Pingback: Should medical students attend academic conferences? - Manu et Corde()

  • Pingback: Should medical students attend academic conferences? | Wing Of Zock()

  • http://manuetcorde.wordpress.com purdye

    Thanks Brent for writing this great review! It was a blast to meet you and the others at CAEP and I’m looking forward to hearing about all your adventures in Boston in the coming year! Hopefully you’ll still be producing some Boring content :)


    • http://canadiem.org Brent Thoma

      Thanks Eve! :) Great to meet you as well.
      And of course I will, it will just have a Boston accent!

  • Teresa Chan

    Hey B:

    I still think you should consider writing your opinions up under the guise of Boyer’s framework (https://depts.washington.edu/gs630/Spring/Boyer.pdf) for one of the major Med Ed journals. Your thoughts on critique and post-publication critique (i.e. commentary/wiki) are worth articulating to those who might have an impact (policy makers, lead educators, deans, etc..)

    I think the up-and-coming (GenY/Millenials right now) is not often heard, and by the time the preceding generation (GenXers now) get ahold of it, somehow there seems to be a reverse-osmotic delay.

    An example is that two years ago, I was on an organizing committee for a conference, and they were not interested in having a facebook or twitter presence… And two years later it’s #IRLS2014… I don’t think I was a precipitant for that, but probably I was a marker of a generation that was wondering why they weren’t doing #SoMe…

    That being said, getting out there and expressing your commentary in their medium might be worth while in helping to open eyes and minds.


    • http://canadiem.org Brent Thoma

      Thanks! And sorry for the late reply. I will be e-mailing you about this ASAP.
      Talk soon!