#FOAMems: Engaging paramedics with free, online open-access education

J Educ Health Promot. 2018 Mar 1;7:32. doi: 10.4103/jehp.jehp_84_17. eCollection 2018.

Abstract

Background and aim: Twitter® use among paramedics and other prehospital care clinicians is on the rise and is increasingly being used as a platform for continuing education and international collaboration. In 2014, the hashtag #FOAMems was registered. It is used for the sharing of emergency medical services, paramedicine, and prehospital care-related content. It is a component of the 'free open-access meducation' (FOAM) movement. The aim of this study was to characterize and evaluate the content of #FOAMems tweets since registration.

Materials and methods: An analytical report for #FOAMems was generated on symplur.com from February 4, 2014, to April 30, 2017. A transcript of all #FOAMems tweets for a randomly selected 1 month period (October 2015) was generated, and quantitative content analysis was performed by two reviewers. Tweets were categorized according to source (original tweet/retweet) and whether referenced. The top 92 tweeters were analyzed for professional identity.

Results: During the study period, there were over 99,000 tweets containing #FOAMems, by over 9,200 participants. These resulted in almost 144 million impressions. Of the top 92 tweeters, 50 were paramedics (54%). Tweets were mainly related to cardiac (23%), leadership (19%), and trauma (14%). The 1-month period resulted in 649 original tweets, with 2110 retweets; 1070 of these were referenced.

Conclusion: Paramedics are engaging with both clinical and nonclinical content on Twitter® using #FOAMems. Social media resources are widely shared, which is in line with the FOAM movement's philosophy. However, opportunities exist for paramedics to share further diverse resources supported by referenced material.

Keywords: Education; online; paramedic; social media; twitter.