You can go FOAM again

Last month I got on stage at SAEM's Annual Meeting, and said (among other things) that excelling at medical education through social networks was a calling - one that I didn't hear. Despite being an early adopter of social media for EM education, it's clear when you look at the best exemplars of #FOAMed that there's a passion behind what they do. Just look at the prodigious output and quality at sites like ALiEM or Emcrit, for instance.

And while I've lodged some criticisms of #FOAMed (in the pages of EPMonthly and in a Skeptic's Guide to Emergency Medicine podcast), it's mostly because they've been so successful in teaching their areas of expertise that they risk crowding out EM core content. You can't blame the listeners, though - who wouldn't rather spend a few hours listening to experts discussing the finer points of critical care, instead of reading vanilla core content written in a scholarly, passive voice?

But I'm not trying to continue this debate - just point out that I think #FOAMed is evolving.

I say this because I noticed my name come up in #FOAMed circles - in ways that weren't tied to criticism.

First, the excellent EMLyceum just hosted a discussion about monarticular arthritis, and referenced our review of the topic (coauthored by Makini Chisolm-Straker) in EMPractice a few years back. And last week Sinai EM resident Jeremy Faust dropped me a line, letting me know his FOAMcast with Lauren Westafer was covering liver emergencies, and would touch on some points from my recent CDM presentation. It was posted online today.

Of course, most social med-ed content was well-referenced before now, and many sources feature guest experts in their blogs or podcasts. But I consider it a good sign that these smart, talented, passionate teachers are reaching out and including content from folks like me - who write the occasional review article, or present some core content material at a CME conference.

I'd call it a sign of a maturing community. The professional level of writing and speaking that has characterized much of EM FOAMed will certainly continue, but the content seems to be broadening beyond the interests of its practitioners. That's good for the listeners still in training, and I think it's also good for the #FOAMed movement itself, as it develops beyond a hobby to a true academic pursuit.