Engagement in Free Open Access Medical Education by US Nephrology Fellows

Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2023 Feb 14. doi: 10.2215/CJN.0000000000000123. Online ahead of print.


Background: As free open access medical education (FOAMed) use increases, it is important to characterize how and why learners are using this educational material in nephrology. We describe the frequency, purpose, and type of FOAMed usage across US nephrology fellows.

Methods: In this cross-sectional survey, items were emailed to all US adult and pediatric nephrology fellows via the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) Fellow Survey in May 2022. The eight-item survey, developed to measure FOAMed engagement, had previously undergone instrument validation. The results were analyzed by descriptive statistics.

Results: In total, 43% (359/842) adult nephrology fellows and 51% (45/88) pediatric nephrology fellows completed the survey. Seventy-four percent (300/404) of fellows reported using FOAMed, and 72% (215/300) started using FOAMed within the past 2 years. Of FOAMed users, 41% (122/300) reported viewing FOAMed and 33% (99/300) reported applying knowledge gained from these resources daily or weekly. Common purposes for FOAMed engagement included searching Twitter to learn about others' opinions in the field (43%; 130/300), reading blogs to answer clinical questions (35%; 105/300), and listening to podcasts for the most up-to-date information (39%; 116/300). Compared with traditional educational resources, fellows preferred using FOAMed for staying up to date on nephrology topics (75%) and answering clinical questions (37%). Among all fellows, the greatest barriers to FOAMed use were unfamiliarity with FOAMed (27%; 111/404), validity concerns (22%; 90/404), and a lack of a local community of FOAMed users (22%; 87/404).

Conclusions: Seventy-four percent of nephrology fellows used FOAMed resources in a variety of ways, and of them, 33% of fellows clinically applied knowledge gained from these resources. Reasons for engaging with FOAMed varied across resources.