FOAM Starter | How to choose who to follow when you are new to Twitter…

In Mentorship by Robert Bryant4 Comments

One of the more common questions I get asked by new Twitter users is WTF (Who To Follow?)! Twitter only really works if the user has a critical mass of people / organizations that they are following.

There are now over 280 million monthly active Twitter users, and of these, over 1000 registered #FOAMed supporters. The dizzying array of people to follow can confuse, and overwhelm the new Twitter user.

I like to give the following example:

Suppose you are attending a faculty party, or medical school re-union / party. Of the 100 people in the room, how many people do you REALLY want to spend time with?

  • Most respondents will say only 5-10 people!
  • Use this rationale to pare down your follow list to only those people you really want to hear from.
  • Think of that reliable person at work who always gives you great articles to read, or blogs to follow. Now imagine tapping into the world’s supply of these reliable people.

The Idea Behind @FOAMstarter

In 2012 the @FOAMstarter twitter account was created to help new users select high yield FOAMites to follow. The 30 tweeps on the @Foamstarter follow list are all either bloggers, podcasters, producers, or educated consumers of FOAM.

We typically recommend that new users follow @FOAMstarter, and then choose 10-20 people from the @FOAMstarter followers list to start their twitter journey with.

Introducing the @Foamstarter follow list (as of April 27, 2015)

Ken Milne @TheSGEM
The Bottom Line  @WICSBottomLine
Saint Emlyn’s @stemlyns
Academic Life in EM  @ALIEMteam
Rob Bryant @robjbryant13
Tessa Davis  @TessaRDavis
Teresa Chan  @TChanMD
rob rogers  @EM_Educator
FOAMcast  @FOAMpodcast
FOAM Highlights  @FOAM_Highlights
Anand Swaminathan @EMSwami
Salim R. Rezaie  @srrezaie
Javier Benitez  @jvrbntz
EM Res Podcast @BobStuntz  @Radiopaedia
Casey Parker @broomedocs
Ryan Radecki @emlitofnote
Minh Le Cong @ketaminh
Chris Nickson @precordialthump
Scott Weingart @emcrit
Mike Cadogan @sandnsurf
Matt and Mike @ultrasoundpod
Leon Gussow @poisonreview
Bryan D. Hayes @pharmERToxguy
Simon Carley @EMManchester
Steve Carroll, DO @embasic
Haney Mallemat @CriticalCareNow
Rob Cooney, MD, MEd @EMEducator
Michelle Lin @M_Lin
Brent Thoma @Brent_thoma
BoringEM @BoringEM
To find these accounts easily:


Sign into your Twitter account, find @Foamstarter in the search tab, then click on the ‘Following’ tab.

This will bring up the list of the 30 accounts @Foamstarter is following. You can make your selection from here by clicking on the ‘follow’ button for each account. These folks are avidly involved in the online continuing education process, and are good guides for newbies interested in learning. Watch how they interact, observe what they retweet (RT) or tweet, and consider reaching out to engage with them online.

After following some / all of the @Foamstarter list, the new user will be able to get a taste of what Twitter has to offer, and can then choose to add other users that are posting relevant content.

 – Rob Bryant MD


Editor’s note by Teresa Chan

For more information about the benefits and uses of Twitter for continuing education, consider checking out the following guides:

  1. Lindsay Melvin, Teresa Chan. Using Twitter in Clinical Education and Practice. J Grad Med Ed. 2014:6(3):581-2. DOI: 10.4300/JGME-D-14-00342.1 Available at:
  2. Brent Thoma, Nikita Joshi, N. Seth Trueger, Teresa M Chan & Michelle Lin. Five strategies to effectively utilize online resources in emergency medicine. Annals of Emergency Medicine. Online first June 21, 2014. Oct;64(4):392-395. DOI: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2014.05.029. PMID: 24962889.
  3. Esther Choo, Megan Ranney, Teresa Chan, N. Seth Trueger, Amy Walsh, Kenneth Tegtmeyer, Shannon MacNamara, Ricky Choi, Lisa Fields, Christopher Carroll. Twitter as a Tool for Communication and Knowledge Exchange in Academic Medicine: A Guide for Skeptics and Novices. Online first December 19, 2014. (doi:10.3109/0142159X.2014.993371)



Robert Bryant
Utah Emergency Physicians Adjunct Assistant Professor (Clinical) Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Surgery University of Utah School of Medicine
BoringEM has been 'bringing the boring' to emergency medicine since 2012. In 2016 this Canadian blog brought its content to CanadiEM.