Emergency Medicine FOAM: How To Navigate And Participate

As an employee for a medical technology company, I had never heard of the term FOAM until I started following GomerBlog on Twitter (Who you should follow if you don’t already, he’s hilarious.) GomerBlog uses the hashtag #FOAMed after almost every one of his satirical tweets. At first I thought it was a term he coined for his content, but I quickly realized it was bigger than that after I skimmed through the program topics for the American Academy of Emergency Medicine’s (AAEM) Scientific Assembly this week and stumbled upon a session called “Going Digital: Twitter Basics for Emergency Physicians & Navigating FOAMed.” So I decided to dig a little deeper. It turns out that FOAM is a huge international movement, and if you don’t know it already, will allow you to constantly improve your knowledge as an emergency medicine professional.

What is FOAM? 

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via Emergency Medicine Cases 

FOAM, also known as Free Open Access Medical Education, or “Meducation”, is both a movement and a community. It’s something that emerged from our increasingly collaborative and tech-savvy world of medicine. Don’t think of it as a business strategy, though you can utilize it for thought-leadership if you have the know-how. Think of it more as a way to access medical education resources – on all healthcare topics. This includes tweets, blogs, podcasts, tweets, online videos, white papers, photos, Facebook and LinkedIn groups, and much more. It’s free, crowd-sourced medical education for anyone, anywhere, anytime. It allows healthcare professionals like you to share information on a global scale and learn from each other. The best part? It’s supposed to be fun, which is why writers like GomerBlog are publishing satirical and comical pieces with the #FOAMed hashtag. Now that you know what it is, you probably read or write FOAM on a daily basis and didn’t realize it.

#FOAMed and how to use it.
FOAM is the concept and #FOAMed is the social hashtag that brings it all together. You can search for this hashtag on Twitter to find all sorts of medical information, including Twitter accounts that specialize in FOAM (Which you will see on the left-hand side of the page after you type #FOAMed into the search bar). Use it to follow other advocates of FOAM, start a conversation, or become part of one. Again, this is a great resource to share thought leadership (your reputable knowledge and ideas) with other health professionals like you. It’s also a great way to analyze trending topics within the FOAM network. If you write content that you want to share with the rest of the world, use #FOAMed at the end of your posts. It’s the easiest way to share your content and make it easily accessible for others who participate.

How to access emergency medicine FOAM.
There are a lot of great resources that house FOAM specifically for emergency medicine. Life in The Fast Lane regularly posts something called LITFL Review, a source for the best of the best FOAM EM content. There are podcasts like EM:RAP and AAEM Podcasts that provide up-to-date and interesting topics in emergency medicine for free. The resources are everywhere. EM newsletters, white papers, blogs, infographics, social media posts, videos, and podcasts that you read or watch for free are considered FOAM. However, it’s important that you get your information from a reputable source, especially when searching under the hashtag. So, use good judgement.

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