What is FOAM?

Free Open Access Medical Education, or #FOAMed, is a term coined in 2012 by Mike Cadogan, a founder of a leading medical blog Life in the Fast Lane. This and the now hundreds of similar blogs, along with podcasts, YouTube channels and social media sites have revolutionized the delivery of medical education and in no field more so than in emergency medicine and critical care. This term encompasses the content but also the philosophy and community behind this movement.


Why FOAM over traditional medias?

While theory and concepts in medicine can be learned from textbooks and critical appraisal of the literature, becoming a good clinician is dependent on seeing patients, thinking through diagnostic uncertainty, listening to colleagues discuss cases and pitfalls in management. The main way to achieving this is obviously through working shifts. But a great way to supplement this learning is by listening to experienced experts and how they approach cases, and this be done through podcasts, blogs, and social media.

Recent medical education research looking at this question shows that current Canadian EM residents are almost ubiquitously accessing FOAM on a regular basis to supplement their learning from traditional resources. Advantages to traditional media methods include its portability, entertainment value and timeliness (Purdy, 2015).


#FOAMed – A Modern Controversy in Medical Education

By: Andrea Lo, CCFP-EM Resident

Grand Rounds Presentation, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Ottawa


  1. Purdy et al., The use of free online educational resources by Canadian emergency medicine residents and program directors. CJEM, March 2015
  2. Nickson, C. P. and Cadogan, M. D. (2014), Free Open Access Medical education (FOAM) for the emergency physician. Emergency Medicine Australasia, 26: 76–83.