Beginners Guide to FOAM

FOAM has been around for a while now and you may have wondered what all the fuss is about! Do you really need to use it? Do you time for it in your already busy life? The answer is yes! You can read as little or as much as you want, for people with short attention spans or too much else going on in their lives; it is perfect.

FOAM stands for Free Open Access Medical Education….. the fact that you are reading this means you already take part! It is everywhere, blogs,

podcasts, online guidelines, twitter and facebook to name a few. I want to show you how it will make your life easier, you can improve your knowledge and even have fun along the way!

This famous quote from the start of FOAM sums it up well…..

“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 hallways and use FOAM.

International EM Education Efforts & E-Learning by Joe Lex 2012”

Here are our 5 top tips to getting into FOAM…contact us @bttbuk  as we have so many more!

  1. Get on Twitter.  Search for your specialist interest and follow people with that interest-They will tweet links to guidelines, courses etc that are relevant to you.  My interest is PEM, so top people to follow would be @damian_roland, @TessRDavis, @_NMay and @PEMgeek to name a few. Just type your interest in the search box!

  2. Again on Twitter, follow journals you are interested in. Do you have time to read every journal? Do you want to subscribe and pay for every journal?! Didn’t think so! Instead, follow them on twitter. They will tell you the latest articles they have and their keys points, interesting research that is happening…and all in 140 characters. Even quicker than just skim reading an abstract! Great examples are @ADC_BMJ, @NEJM or @bmj_latest

Finally about Twitter, (Although I am a little twitter mad so could go on and on….), follow conferences and virtually attend them.  No one has the time or study budget to attend all conferences. They will have a # slogan (eg #RCPCH2015 or #WPSspring15)  and anyone talking about the conference will use it. Search for it and you will get to see presentations, posters, key points all without leaving your sofa.

3. There are many fantastic Blogs that are freely accessible and are an amazing resource of up to date information. Why look around for an answer you need when someone else has done the hard work and summarised all you need to know in one page?! There are many blogs and you will find the ones most useful to you. Our blog is obviously a fantastic place to start and here are a few more to get you going….. Their slogan is “We love Paediatrics; we love education; and we love FOAM. It acts as a paediatric educational resource for health professionals and has very varied content updated frequently. This started as a medical blog for emergency medicine and critical care but covers a lot of paediatrics with links to you tube clips, podcasts and research reviews. Written by a Paediatric consultant she producers a monthly update aimed at GP’s, EM and Paeds trainees.  This month ranged from a summary of NICE guidelines of Bronchiolitis to how to spot and treat a quinsy. is a blog aiming to improve emergency medicine through FOAM, it always included Paediatrics and plenty of it. Content varies from reviews of journal articles to the latest evidence base medicine on common paediatric presentations.

4. An excellent source of FOAM are online clinical guidelines.  You don’t need to remember everything there is about Paediatrics but do need to know where to find it!  There is obviously NICE guidelines ( and SIGN guidelines ( Even ones from other hospitals are useful if your local hospital don’t have a guideline for that particular problem; the Melbourne hospital site is fantastic:

5. Use Podcasts: listen to lectures and conversations from experts in their field or summaries of the latest journals at your leisure. Such as podcasts from Archives disease childhood ( or ones to help you with revision ( Whatever you need there will be a podcast for it!

There are so many amazing resources out there and you will find the ones that are useful to your subspecialty. We hope this helps to get you started….it is quite addictive, once you realise how useful it is you will never pick up a textbook again!!

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