FOAM Is Good for You!

In Education & Quality Improvement by Nadim LalaniLeave a Comment

I recently gave a talk on FOAM (or FOAM-ED) – Free Open Access Medical Education– an acronym coined by Mike Cadogan at the Dublin ICEM 2012 conference. The legend will state that the idea of FOAM was borne over a pint of Guinness and, like Guinness – FOAM is good for you!

The concept of FOAM came about because Mike felt that the term “social media” when used in an Emergency Medicine context tends to turn people off. This is particularly evident with older generation docs who are picturing some kid with skinny, ass-hanging-out-jeans Tweeting about Kim Kardashian. This is unfortunate, because in so doing these docs aren’t benefiting from engaging in this incredible online conversation.

So, like others, I am trying to be an apostle for FOAM …and I can understand why Mike has found it challenging to speak about.

Why should we engage in FOAM?

  • It’s free.
  • It’s relatively easy to access.
  • Once accessed, it’s an incredibly efficient use of your time.
  • It is created and curated by the avant-guard in your specialty.
  • If you’re NOT doing it … you’re missing out!

I have found Twitter CLINICALLY useful. Additionally there is a constant conversation going on about emergency medicine that you really need to be a part of because guess what? YOU have something to share!

Reservations you have about engaging in FOAM?

  • You’re a tech laggard.
  • There is too much stuff out there.
  • You may have concerns regarding peer review.

Here are my thoughts about these concerns

My name is Nadim and I am a luddite. I learned how to have an online presence by being challenged by my peers – you can too. There is a lot of great stuff out there. If you want to follow one thing to start, try LifeInTheFastLane.

Your concerns regarding peer review are valid. Most of the avant-guard that are out there should have a profile that explains who they are and what they are about. The LifeintheFastLane folks have tried to catalogue some of the great-tasting FOAM out there; however, just like any Journal Article – you need to critically assess what you’re reading. In a short while you will sift through the stuff that you find useful.

I would go one step further and sign up for a Twitter account. You can follow some of the folks on the LifeInTheFastLane link above and engage them yourself!

Don’t just take my word for it!

So get out there and sample some FOAM! It has the potential to transform the way you practice – at the very least you will have pushed your envelope a little bit. Enjoy!

Note: This post was originally published on the ERMentor Blog. It was revised by Riley Golby and Sean Nugent and reposted on CanadiEM in July, 2016.

Nadim is an emergency physician at the South Health Campus in Calgary, Alberta. He is passionate about online learning and recently made a transition into human performance coaching. He is currently working on introducing the coaching model into medical education.