The critical care community is exploding with knowledge right now. Every single day there are new advances and discoveries made in the field. In the one hand, it’s never been easier to learn, on the other hand, it’s never been as difficult. Knowledge is everywhere. It’s literally only a mouse click away. Unfortunately, much of it is a mouse click and a clink of the cash register. William Gibson, a Canadian author, said “the future is already here, it’s just not very evenly distributed.” How true this is. There is so much information that is only available with large sums of money. This is suboptimal. So now what….?
In the recent years there has been a movement, collectively referred to as the free open access meducation movement; or FOAM, and it’s big. It’s really big. The concept has been around for many years, but it has only had a name since 2012. Coined over a glass of beer, a group of physicians in Dublin, Ireland rocked the critical care world. Since that informal meeting, the FOAM movement has grown exponentially. It’s so big and so broad it’s hard to explain. It’s more than just education—it’s learning in the most genuine and unadulterated way. It’s collaborative—everyone in all levels of medicine can be involved. It’s interactive—everyone can, and should be involved.
Did I mention that it’s FREE?
As a paramedic, you have a legal obligation to learn. Beyond being bound by laws, you have a DUTY to learn. Let me state this clearly and unequivocally: you have a duty to learn. That means showing up to the monthly CEU 15 minutes late, and leaving 15 minutes early, making sure you get your name on the roster is completely contrary to being a good paramedic—in fact, do us all a favor and find a new job. I know your type. I know who you are. You are a paramedic by name only. You don’t respect the title or the profession. Save those who only became a paramedic for the pay raise (ha, jokes on you!), I firmly believe that to become a paramedic, you had to have loved it at one point or another. Which leads me to believe that if you have lost the love, you can find it once again.
If it’s not FREE, than it’s not FOAM.
FOAM is everywhere online. It’s on Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram and nearly every single social networking site I could think of. Use the hashtag #FOAMed and you’ll see for your self. On a side note, the hashtag #foam will just get you a bunch of drunk college kids at foam parties–not really relevant to what we’re discussing. It’s as simple as a tweet, and as complex as a text book. Yes, I said text book. The ATACC just released a full-length trauma text book that is phenomenal. Nearly 500 pages of pure doctrine. And they did it for FREE.
Hands down, the most beautiful part of FOAM is that it is completely and utterly dependent on the passion, and drive, and love of those who call them selves’ clinicians. FOAM wants you to be involved. In fact, it’s practically begging you. It’s for paramedics, nurses, respiratory therapists, PA’s, NP’s, CRNA’s, doctors, surgeons, and so much more. If you are involved in the sick and crashing patient, FOAM is for you. More and more FOAM education is being readily offered for legitimate and certified CE credit. If you’re already an avid practitioner of all thing critical care, FOAM is for you. If you’re a crappy paramedic, but you have even the smallest desire to improve, FOAM is for you. Support FOAM and use it, share it–heck, even author it.
To echo the words of Mr. Churchill, what a pity it would be if the next call finds you unprepared. Choose to be prepared. Choose to be ready.
To learn more about FOAM, visit these sources: