In 2012, the world of emergency medicine blogs and podcasts was gaining momentum but was lacking two things: a name and a conference to call its own. Today, we have both: Free Open Access Medical Education (FOAM or #FOAMed) and the annual Social Media and Critical Care (SMACC) Conference.
SMACC was conceived by a handful of Australian emergency medicine and critical care physicians as a three-day in-person gathering of the growing and passionate community of emergency medicine and critical care providers who spend the rest of the year sharing information online for free. In 2013, SMACC’s first year, more than 700 creators and consumers of #FOAMed descended on Sydney, Australia. From the start, the organizers insisted on dynamic presentations. PowerPoint was not officially banned, but bullet points effectively were. Amazingly, the online ethos of #FOAMed, prizing substance and style in equal doses, genuinely materialized in real life, and a unique entity was born. The following year, the conference moved east to the Gold Coast of Australia and attracted 1,300 delegates. This year in June, SMACC moved out of Australia and came to Chicago (#smaccUS), and for the first time, the conference was acknowledged as an ACEP-accredited conference. More than 2,000 people attended, but unlike most conferences, presenters and delegates included representatives from various disciplines, such as emergency physicians, critical care physicians, nurses, rural practitioners, paramedics, pharmacists—the list goes on. This makes SMACC the only conference I am aware of that consistently brings cutting-edge medical education to multiple disciplines so that we can grow together as a health care community.
Picking actual representative tweets from #smaccUS is impossible. More than an astounding 80,000 tweets tagged #smaccUS were created in June alone by more than 5,000 individual participants. True to the #FOAMed ethos, one need not attend SMACC in order to participate. In fact, each year, all of the lectures and sessions are eventually released for free online. This year, some lectures were broadcast live on the video-streaming app Periscope, further adding to SMACC’s reach.
What would SMACC be without a knowledge bolus from Scott Weingart, MD, FCCM (@emcrit)? My favorite “next-shift pearl” from Dr. Weingart’s talk “The Resuscitationist Mindset” was tweeted by Rebecca Kornas, MD (@BK_ED_MD), who relayed that, in severely vasoconstricted patients, the automated blood pressure cuffs “will not get actual blood pressure until 4-5th time blood pressure cycles” because the device has to calibrate. That was an immediate practice changer for a lot of people in the audience.