ACEP’s annual conference, ACEP13, is just around the corner. Are you going? If so, you will see me there. If not, you’ll also see me there. If you want to.
That’s because I, along with dozens and possibly hundreds more, will be Live-Tweeting from the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle from October 14 to 17. Thousands more will be sharing information and commenting on the news coming out of #ACEP13 without leaving the comfort of their own emergency department, bus, train, elliptical machine, or couch.
Anyone with a smartphone or an Internet connection will have instant access via Twitter to the thousands of Emergency Medicine–related Tweets coming out of the conference. Sidebar: When a hashtag such as #ACEP13 appears in a Tweet, that posting gets categorized with all other posts sporting that hashtag. This way, Twitter users can read everything coming out of the convention without having to “follow” everyone who is Tweeting.
What is in a Tweet? Anything. Well, anything that can fit into 140 characters, which is approximately 30 words. New ideas, clinical tips/tricks of the trade, trends, new research data, hot controversies, and the robust and highly informed conversations about emergency medicine that emerge from participants ranging from experienced and renowned ACEP faculty to residents and even precocious students. In addition to text, Tweets can contain hyperlinks to websites, articles, podcasts, pictures, and videos.
Is Twitter a fad that will go away? Probably not, and certainly not anytime soon. On the contrary, Twitter as a platform for medical education has exploded in the past two years. In 2011, just 30 people tweeted from the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine conference (#SAEM11). But last year, more than 1,700 Tweets by approximately 300 users were labeled as #ACEP12 in Denver, reaching thousands of observers around the world. Earlier this year, that number was dwarfed by the Social Media and Critical Care conference in Sydney, Australia, which has had nearly 16,000 Tweets authored by more than 1,500 participants tagged (#SMACC13) since March.
Conference hashtags come and go with the conferences they are named for. But since 2012, the ongoing continuity hashtag for the online emergency medicine education community has been #FOAMed, for Free Open-Access Meducation, the catch-all term for free online medical education blogs, podcasts, Websites, and smartphone apps, which I wrote about here in February. To date, #FOAMed has amassed nearly 50,000 Tweets.
The question most people have is, “Why bother with Twitter?”