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The Big Swim 2015

Okay, Announcement Time.

I am doing The Big Swim in August of this year.

Why am I doing this?

Well, it’s a charity event to raise money for Brigadoon Children’s Camp – Please give generously (click the Logo to go to the Donation page).





Raising money for Brigadoon is a Great reason, but it’s not the only one.

I am doing this for myself – I needed a big, crazy goal to shake of the last 5 years of complacency. I have a family that needs me to be alive and in shape, and to be around for the next 50 or so years.

So I am back in the water, training hard, and I’m going to swim 16 km across the Northumberland Strait in 3 months.

Swim routes from 2013 and 2014
Swim routes from 2013 and 2014
Big Swim Routes from 2013 and 2014
Big Swim Routes from 2013 and 2014


Plus I’m a bit nuts.

Raising money for a great charity, and personal growth – both fantastic reasons to do something a bit crazy. But why this particular bit of crazy?

2 years ago my best friend, Kirk MacLeod, did this swim. Inspiring all by itself, but the circumstances under which he did it defy belief and reason. Read his story below, shake off the tears and chills, then click on the Brigadoon logo above and Please Donate.


Social Media Primer for UBC Dept of Emergency Medicine

Hand holding a Social Media 3d SphereThere has been a surge of interest in Social Media and how it might be used in Emergency Medicine and EM Education here at the University of British Columbia.  Dr. Kendall Ho, an EM Physician and Head of the UBC eHealth Strategy Office (Facebook, Twitter)is kicking off a big push to explore SoMe with a few events:

With the growing interest in SoMe in EM and Medical Education, I think a short primer on the space is warranted.

This is a list, with some commentary, of (I think) excellent KT and MedEd resources in the Social Media space  so that people can explore. This is NOT by any stretch a comprehensive list, but is meant as a Primer for the upcoming discussion for those unfamiliar with the myriad faces of SoMe.

Social Media, in my opinion, is primarily a  Knowledge Translation tool rather than a primary source of medical information. It is a vast and useful filter for the ‘firehose of information’ that spews from the mainstream medical literature.

Free Open Access Medical Education (FOAM)
FOAM is a movement, based in Social Media, that has blossomed in the last few years. FOAM was coined/created by Australian EM physician Mike Cadogan, creator of Life in the Fastlane one of the pre-eminent EM blogs in the world.
FOAM should not be seen as a teaching philosophy or strategy, but rather as a globally accessible crowd-sourced educational adjunct providing inline (contextual) and offline (asynchronous) content to augment traditional educational principles.
FOAMEM – a dynamically updated list of the latest blogposts and podcasts
FOAMSearch – a Google Custom Search Engine for FOAM Content (Disclaimer: I am the creator of FOAMSearch)
Blogs are the mainstay of SoMe. They allow long form text, images, audio, and video. Almost all allow comments and replies to posts that, in the best cases, allow for interaction between the authors and other members of the community [hence ‘Social’ media]. Below is a list of just some of the best blogs out there:
Life in the Fastlane – the grand daddy of EMCC (Emergency Medicine and Critical Care) sites
Academic Life in EM – the heir apparent
EM Lit of Note – succinct interpretations of current literature
EM Nerd – new but fantastically detailed Lit examinations
EMUpdates – less frequent posts, but high quality
Don’t Forget the Bubbles  – new PEM (Pediatric EM) blog
Dr Smith’s ECG Blog – from the master, Stephen Smith
The Blunt Dissection – great case-based blog
EMCrit – EM Intensivist Scot Weingart’s blog to ‘bring upstairs care, downstairs’
EMTutorials – Presentations with supplementary material
EM:RAP – Not Free, but likely the pre-eminent source of online CPD in EM.
Resus.ME – another great mix of EM and Critical Care
St Emlyn’s – a great group blog from the Manchester EM group
The Short Coat – one example of what a motivated learner (Lauren began the blog as a Med Student and is now an R1 in EM) can do
The SGEM (Skeptic’s Guide to EM) – Canadian video podcast from the BEEM group’s Ken Milne (more about Ken here, and here)
THE LIST – from LitFLthis is the most comprehensive list of active EMCC blogs
Podcasts are primarily audio, but increasingly video based, resources. Some are published on a regular schedule, others only as the creators have topics or information to share. Many, but not all, offer blog posts with related or supplementary material.
EMCrit from EM Intensivist Scot Weingart (iTunes Link)
ERCast EM in the trenches from Rob Orman (iTunes Link)
SMART EM David H Newman is one of the smartest guys in EM, and in Medicine as a whole (iTunes Link Here)
THE LIST – LitFL this is the most comprehensive list of active EMCC podcasts
Knowledge Translation tools
These online resources are not typical blogs, but are very useful, and often are very EBM =
MD Calc – created and run by some of the NNT team.
Journal Clubs are a subset of the KT-tool-but-not-a-blog category
Twitter is, currently, the forum for most of the day-to-day discussion and interaction in the EM SoMe space. If you want to keep abreast of all the goings on, then you need to be on Twitter. Lurking (following and consuming the content without interacting) is a very valid and perfectly acceptable way to use Twitter. Many, but not all, may transition from lurking to actively engaging. The only UNacceptable use of Twitter (and SoMe in general) is Trolling, so feel free to take a peek inside.
FOAMStarter – New to Twitter? Follow the folks listed here as a starting point.
FOAMHighlights – an account that retweets good FOAM content.
High Impact – My personal list of high impact EM Twitterfolk. Includes the clinical best as well as a smattering of the lighter side of EM on Twitter
MedEd – My growing list of MedEd Twitter accounts, leaning heavily but not exclusively on EM Educators
Facebook etc
Facebook is a bit of a hydra – many folks (myself included) keep their personal FB pages strictly personal, minimizing it’s use in the professional realm. For many however FB is THE central focus of many people’s Social Media interaction, including medical professionals. These folks are often unaware of the other SoMe channels, so new SoMe initiatives having a FB presence that points to resources outside FB  can be very useful for building an engaged audience.  I will list a couple FB pages of sites listed above:
Wikipedia & the WikiProject Medicine
Wikipedia is one of the first, and most successful, crowd-sourced repositories on the web. The reliability of the information on Wikipedia has been questioned by many! but none can question the popularity of the site. As often as not, Wikipedia is the first result in any Google (or other search engine) search. There are thousands of medical articles on Wikipedia, but only a handful of physicians and other health care professionals who try to ensure their accuracy. The WikiProject Medicine is an official Wikimedia project attempting to guide and correct medical info on the site. This is also a new frontier for Medical Education, with UCSF’s recently created elective that has students collaborate on the project. UBC Dept of Emergency Medicine’s Dr James Heilman is centrally involved in the Project, and those interested in this facet of SoMe should contact him.
Google+ and Google Hangouts
Google+ is one of the newest SoMe platforms, and integrates with the whole Google-verse. Why do you need yet another place to put your face, and probably waste time? Well, it has some unique features that make it particularly attractive to the EMCC and MedEd communities. It allows long form articles, unlike Twitter, allows you to share your own and others’ blog posts and other things, and has a robust Community builder.  Check out the new, but already highly interactive discussions on the FOAMcc (FOAM Critical Care) Community.
Google+ also introduced a new tool, Google Hangouts. Hangouts are a kind of video conferencing tool – it allows up to 10 people to join in a group video/audio chat. Participants can be added and removed on the fly. This alone would be useful for small group sessions or for connecting different sites, but there is a rather brilliant addition. Any Google Hangout can be broadcast *LIVE* to YouTube. If you choose, anyone can watch/follow your Hangout session, enabling you to reach a much larger audience. Add in Twitter as a realtime feedback/question channel, and you have a ready made, open, online conferencing tool.
Just one more thing… People have already begun to extend these tools, and Nestivity seems like an exciting resource. Rob Rogers (of Univ of Maryland Emergency Medicine, and The Teaching Course) has set up a MedEd focussed Nestivity site, and Academic Life in EM used it recently for their Book Club discussion
This is far from an exhaustive look at SoMe in Emergency Medicine and Medical Education. This should be a jumping off point for any exploration. If you have questions or comments, leave them on this post, or chat with me over at Twitter.


WikEmerg is a 3 part project:

The Wiki – a MetaFilter

The Wiki section is an attempt to organize the web, and especially FOAMed, content. The Internet is a vast content sinkhole. Most of us don’t have the time, energy, or inclination to dig very deep. We use Google (or GoogleFOAM!), get recommendations from colleagues or learners, or follow a few high quality blogs and podcasts. We can’t all be Scott Weingart (EMCrit), David Newman (SmartEM), or Joe Lex (FreeEmergencyTalks), so we rely on them, and folks like them, to filter and process the content.

Even then it can be a bit of a chore to dig out that specific bit on a specific topic at a moment’s notice, even with GoogleFOAM… So I have created a curated list of resources for EM Topics. With kind permission, I have used Reuben Strayer’s (EMUpdates) Diagnosis, Therapeutics, and Procedures list to structure the initial Topic List. Most topics are just a list of links right now but I hope that, with some help, we can structure each topic into a more useful narrative structure.

The Wiki is intended to be a ‘meta’ site. Some original content may appear here, but mostly topics should be a curated guide to currently available outside resources on any given topic. This is a step further than a curated search engine like, and several steps beyond a basic Google or Bing search. I am a huge FOAM proponent and so preference should be given to Free and Open Access resources, but there is no prohibition on linking to subscription or pay sites, so long as this is explicit in the article or link, and the end result is high quality information.

The Lectures – a way to organize a ‘Flipped’ Curriculum

This section is a place to add a lecture series (like a residency or clerkship curriculum). Each ‘Lecture’ has a place to post Objectives, Videos, Documents, etc. Each time a lecture is given, the presenter can add a ‘Presentation’ – Audio or Video content, Lecture notes, Presentation documents. This acts like a ChangeLog for the lecture. The next time that lecture is assigned, the new presenter can start with the previous presentation and ADD to it rather than RECREATE it. This has a number of benefits:

  • By seeing what was presented before, the topic can be presented consistently across years.
  • Having the previous material to review and incorporate means less work, and more time to focus on adding the latest and greatest
  • Learners have access to the most up to date information
  • Programs have a ‘History’ of their topics, and can check to ensure the material is meeting their standards.
  • Why RE-invent the wheel every year when you can make a better one instead?

The Rounds – personalized repository of your talks

This section is for posting your unique, one-off talks. These could be your departmental Grand Rounds, Conference Talks, or Research Days. Each ‘Round’ is identified by the Creator and Institution, and can be searched or filtered that way as well. In addition to the primary media (audio or video), you can post all of the related material, documents and other bits associated with the talk, as well as interact with peers via the comment section.

‘Rounds’ is intended to be a personal or institutional repository of talks and sessions. This can be shared as part of a CV, an online professional profile (like LinkedIn or Doximity), or for later review if someone missed the talk. I think it is criminal that many talks simply vanish after being given once – we all work damned hard on them so they should endure if possible. I also think that paper slide handouts are a waste – there are vast opportunities for further, deeper learning by pointing people at your sources, and making that sharing easy.

[This post is excerpted from an interview I did with Michele Lin at Academic Life in Emergency Medicine]

Spotlight in Academic Life in EM

The fantastic Michele Lin recently interviewed me for her site Academic Life in EM.


You can read the whole post here (or click the thumbnail above). For the record I objected (not too strenuously…) to the Hero title. and will get their own posts here next.

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This site serves as my ePortfolio.  Here you will find links to my online footprint, my professional and academic projects, as well as any other creative endeavours I am involved in.