This is the promise of Free Open Access Meducation (or medical education), FOAM in short. And it’s here to transform medicine.
The cost and difficulty of bringing content online has become negligible with the advent of technologies like blogs, podcasts and video sites and medical professionals are using this opportunity to bring education to a much wider global audience. Likewise, the accompanying scientific discourse about evidence, research and practice is shifting to these platforms and the social media they tie in with so seamlessly. FOAM is the name given to this melting pot of professional exchange. This arguably reflects the general change to an increasingly digital life style.
As these platforms offer low cost of entry, near universal accessibility, transparency and immediacy, practitioners from around the globe now network and learn from each other to a degree that was not previously possible. Online conversations routinely happen in real time and offer perspectives from all over the world, from diverse socioeconomic settings, from practitioners at all levels of training and from multiple specialties. FOAM has seen near exponential growth and gained fervent support initially from acute and critical care communities in the English speaking parts of the world, but is extending into more and more specialties and languages. For more background, se LITFL background, their recent update on FOAM development and an excellent introduction to incorporating FOAM into medical education by prof. Simon Carley of St. Emlyn’s. On a more fundamental level we’re witnessing the disruptive influence of these technologies on the machinery of the scientific process, challenging not least the lacking performance of traditional, proprietary journal formats with their flawed incentive structure, non-transparent peer review process, long turn around times and content that’s more often than not pay walled, whether to publish or to access.
That’s just grand, but why a Scandinavian site?
You may be thinking, hmm, where and what is Scandinavia again? Well, you’re not alone. Common problem as this entertaining watch will show you (and if you don’t know CGP Grey, where have you been?)
The Scandinavian region (with the notable exception of Finland if she’s counted) crucially has a common language base (the North Germanic languages) that allows us to mostly understand one another while being understood by no one else. We’re also united in similar publicly funded health care systems and an extensive collaboration on science and education, e.g. in the form of Scandinavian conferences and fellowships. The mission of this site is thus two fold:
Bringing Nordic language content to fellow Vikings
The majority of educational efforts in Scandinavia is in our Viking tongues and so there’s content delivered here that is mostly of interest to local practitioners. Furthermore, a lot of our discourse is premised on our shared health care models and extensive preexisting collaboration. Sadly a lot of the talks being presented in Scandinavia only reach a small group who’re present on the day. We hope to extend the reach and life of all of that good stuff people have been working so hard to deliver and spark a larger and richer debate.
Bringing a Scandinavian perspective to the larger world
The amount of quality content already on offer from top of the line international providers and researchers is truly humbling, but our region has a lot to offer the larger community too. We have a proud history in acute and critical care with Copenhagen being the birthplace of the modern ICU by way of pioneering ventilation of polio patients in the 1950s. Since then the Scandinavian region has continued to bring forward research and practitioners of great significance and has developed a unique public health care concept that is envied by many. We thus feel a Scandinavian perspective is valuable. Lastly, some of our conferences present cutting edge material and should want to engage internationally. This site will be one place for such content to be hosted.
The site will be in English to keep our Nordic sisters and brothers at equal disadvantage and allow the rest of the world to see what we’re up to, but some of the content we’re hosting will as per above be in the Viking tongues. C’mon, you can learn it.
For this to be a successful endeavour we hope to enlist people to help contribute material and man power to the site. After all, the beauty of FOAM is its collaborative nature. While FOAM is free to consume, it requires quite considerable resources to produce content worth the time of busy colleagues. And the team consists only of people working full time clinically. We aim for proficiency at online delivery of content and professional internet presence. In an increasingly connected world this is crucial if we want to stay relevant to collaborators and to our own learners who can easily shift their attention elsewhere. Practice makes perfect, so hopefully some may be helped by getting involved with this project. Therefore, if you know of a conference wanting to reach an online audience, you’re an opinionated researcher who wants to blog, you want to contribute AV, design or coding skills, you have editorial input or just want to buy us coffee, get in touch. We can use all the help we can get. For now, the site is a bit bare bones, but have a look around, dip into the content and peruse the social fora we’ve set up. Hit us up on and let us know what you think!
Conflicts of interest
The scanFOAM team have no financial conflicts of interest to declare. This site and the generation of its content is funded entirely by the authors who have taken money from no one in creating this site. The editorial line is entirely independent from companies and institutions. If this changes at any point the site will openly declare it.
We believe in the power of “free” and “open access” and except where explicitly stated, everything generated by the scanFOAM team on this site is published under a CC BY SA license. We link to video/audio/presentations by other people not affiliated and while we have sought and achieved consent for linking and presenting these on the site, and in many cases done the recording thereof, the reuse of any such material needs to be discussed with the speaker. If any such presentation (or site content in general) is felt to contain copyright infringements that we have not been aware of, please let us know and we will look into it immediately.