The most common question I am asked about Free Open Access Medical Education (FOAM) is, “Do I have to be on Twitter?” The answer I give is, “No, but you should be.” But for some, the format doesn’t mesh for them. Some people just want links to high-quality FOAM content without having to sift through comments and opinions regardless of how expert they may be. Here are a few great ways to do this. For other suggestions, check out Thoma et al in the October 2014 Annals of Emergency Medicine.1
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 34 – No 03 – March 2015
1 Search by topic using a FOAM-only search engine. Generally, Googling a topic itself is far too clumsy if you are looking for good resources on a particular topic. (Go ahead—I dare you to try a few topics; some work reasonably well, and some don’t.) Try GoogleFOAM.com. This will bring up only FOAM resources on any topic.
2 Consume only the latest and greatest content curated by a trusted source. At the moment, the Life in the Fastlane Review is the most trusted and utilized. Their weekly reviews promise “the very best of global #FOAMed emergency medicine and critical care education.” It sounds Paleolithic, but you can actually sign up for email notifications so that when the latest review comes out, you get a good, old-fashioned email, if email is your thing.
3 Instead of searching out individual FOAM websites, use Rich Site Summary (RSS) feed, which syndicates many different websites into one feed—the way a TV channel creates a lineup from various shows. Feedly, for example, is both an app and a website that brings you a feed of only the content you want. If you wanted nothing but FOAM, you could subscribe only to “FOAM EM,” and you would always know what’s going on. You can also subscribe to some peer-reviewed journals. One strength of Feedly is that you can tag any post as “save for later,” and whenever you have time, you can check your saved file and find a slew of interesting content you’d been meaning to consume. It’s a lot less clunky than emailing links or files to yourself or saving them on your computer, that is unless you have a pristinely organized system for that sort of thing. I do not.
4 Visit a FOAM database such as FOAMbase.org (which I have mentioned in “The Feed” previously). FOAMbase, created by my coresident Ben Azan, MD, has two especially useful features. The first is a table of contents of FOAM resources organized by category. Looking for FOAM on pediatrics or neurology or procedures? Those resources are all in one place. The other great feature of FOAMbase is that takes what Feedly does and adds a social dimension to it. Anyone can submit a new FOAM resource along with a brief description of the content, and others can comment and up or down vote on the quality of the content.