2013 – The FOAM Family Fruits

Well another year is coming to an end. Yet another lap around the Sun arbitrarily “completed”.  It is that time of year that we pause to reflect upon the last 12 lunar cycles and what has happened between.

So now it is Christmas season – a time for giving. However, if you are a FOAMite – it is like Christmas all year round!  When I think back on the year that has passed that is what I remember the most – the generous giving of time, knowledge and laughter for no reward.  For me – this is the essence of FOAM.  

The FOAM community is packed with great clinicians. We are all busy, time-poor ‘jugglers of many balls’ – and yet you all continue to make this wonderful community thrive on good will and a love of learning.  More importantly, there is a palpable passion for improving the care that our patients’ receive – wherever they happen to be!

2013 was in many ways the true “coming of age” for the FOAM family. Although this community has been growing over the last 5 years – it was at the SMACC Conference in Sydney in March that the floating ethereal tweets and emails crystallised into real human interactions and friendships.  It was like a thousand online daters all met up in person for the first time – and miraculously we all seemed to hit it off pretty well!  [Only a few of us did not look at all like lour Twitter avatars!]

My favourite writer was Kurt Vonnegut (RIP) – he came to the inevitable ‘full stop’ back in 2007.  Like me, he was not a religious chap.  He wrote about Humanism.  Kurt defined being a Humanist as “trying to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after you are dead.”  He was also strong believer in the idea of “extended families” – that humans do better when they are part of a community, a clan or team.  That is the way our brains have evolved.

The FOAM community is an awesome extended family.  It is a safe place to learn and try out new ideas. So – to you all: the readers, the writers, the podcasters, the listeners and twits out there – a big thankyou and group hug from me.

Anyway – enough of the gush.  This is a wrap-up post.  This year for me has been all about making new connections and getting into some amazing collaborations – so I am going to list the people whom have made the year fantastic for me.  [you can click on the names to read the ‘why’, or just read the ‘who’]  Here we go, in no particular order:

Rob is just a really great guy. We have collaborated on podcasts on Suicide, Lessons, and started a bit of informal pre-publication peer review together. He is always happy to say “Gday” in a terrible American accent. Rob’s podcast continues to blow me away with his great interviewing style and real-world approach to the tough topics. Thanks maaaate

Tim – they broke the mold after they made Tim! He is a powerhouse of fun and keeps me laughing constantly. His leadership in rural FOAM is awesome – the KI Docs site has gone ballistic as has the ruraldoctorsnet site Tim is the brains behind a lot of the fun stuff we produce at Broome docs – some great podcasts – teetering on tasteless – but never dull. His SMACC presentation was awesome and his passion for doing the best for his community is admirable.

Tim has put his money where his mouth is – he started a rural Docs Masterclass – a place to learn all the stuff we write about.  This is a brave and wonderful venture – and I wish him all the best. Check it out in 2014.  Look out for the man in the quirky T-shirt this year at SMACC!

My colleagues have been gracious contributors this year. Thanks to them for taking the time to have me shove a mike in front of them and ask tough questions! They also keep me honest. Never to shy to tell me when I get it wrong! For me – this is the most potent teaching – having honest and immediate feedback from close colleagues.

He is literally everywhere on the web. Open a podcast -he is talking, read a comment – he has had a say. A man with an unquenchable thirst for the FOAM – and I consider myself lucky to call him my “partner in crime”. Had the good fortune to spend a bit of time with Minh in Cairns this year and of course in the SMACC club. One of the big projects this year was the development of the foam4gp.com blog / podcast for primary care docs – this is new territory for FOAM – and Minh has been working tirelessly in the wee hours making this happen, doing the political stuff and funding bandwidth. So big thanks buddy. Really appreciate your drive and the odd sparring match 🙂

Matt has popped up on 3 podcasts this year! Always generous with his time and US know how. He is a true innovator – just look at all the stuff he is flogging over at ultrasoundpodcast.com. {He is the non-Mike one, with the pretty hair} Love that southern sense of humour – it helps if you read Faulkner (e.g. As I lay Dying) to understand the accent and where he is coming from 🙂 I am indebted to him for placing confidence in me to actually do something vaguely academic – write a chapter for the book and now be part of the amazing Ultrasound Leadership Academy – truly cutting edge medical education! Can’t wait to buy Matt a brew on the Gold Coast in March.

This year we have tried to push the FOAM up the GP spout. And there are a number of really creative and emerging brilliant GPs who are going to be the future of FOAM 4 GPs. Gerry Considine, Mel Clothier, Robin Park, Marlene Pearce, Vanessa Moran and my old co-author Johnathon Ramachenderan – are a bunch of trainees (though graduating rapidly) who I predict will be running this show in a year or two. Also thanks to Dr Mark Raines for his great cases on the blog Great talking to you all – and I hope to meet you soon in 2014.

Tor spent 6 months in Broome where he taught us all a lot – but most crucially helped carry the Beta-blockers to our first beach Volleyball title! He is pretty jumpy for an old guy!. Huge thanks to Tor for all things artistic in our work this year – check out his work on the RAGE podcast – awesome. Tor was also my first victim on the Lessons Hard Learned series – so a brave man too! Also thanks for making my Excel spreadsheets that bit sexier! Cheers big guy.

Bryan is now writing for Academic Life in EM. He is a clinical pharmacology guru who is the font of knowledge on Tox and Emergency drugs. He is also a great guy who has taught me a lot about Tox in his appearances on the podcast. Merry Xmas Bryan – love your stuff.

If you have seen Sonowars from last SMACC – then you have seen how the Ripster’s brain works. He is a creative and passionate US doc. We have been lucky to have James in Broome as a regular fixture this year. He is a careful and patient teacher and great to work alongside. Thanks for all your time and ongoing mentorship. Much appreciated by us all.

Our local Paed expert. Mel has shared a number of her experiences with us on the podcast. Her constipation post remind the most popular episode in Broome Docs history! On a personal note – Mel had the unfortunate job of caring for my little one a while back. Such poise and professionalism. Not often I end up on the patient side – but it felt safe with Mel there. From the Parker family – a big thanks

Penny has been awesome as our roving Women’s health reporter. She knows her stuff and has a great approach to all those problems I cannot get my head around! Also a tireless contributor and back-room tech for the FOAM4GP blog. Look forward to more pearls from Penny in 2014

The straight-talking Swede once again kept us honest and politically correct in 2013. Great to meet and share a chair at SMACC. And thanks for your always fresh and honest feedback 😉 Next year – Katrin is rolling out the Swedish EM conference. Best of luck

Seth is such a humble guy – seriously smart and agreeable. I could watch him disagree with Minh for hours.., on any topic… he always seems to argue the side I would support. Love the brand of humour he brings to the FOAM world – check it out at mdaware.blogspot.com.au Thanks for your time and teaching: always a well-thought out answer to any question.

These guys are a lot of fun – had the chance to meet them both a couple of time in 2013. Great teachers – now running a really cutting edge trauma course out of Melbourne. http://etmcourse.com I hope to collaborate with them into 2014 and get the message out there – rural trauma is a tough gig, these guys can show you a better way!

The ACEM conference in Broome in June was a real highlight for me. And Michelle was the reason – she let me and my team have a go on the big stage – so thanks. A wonderful wordsmith – her posts on LITFL are always challenging my thinking. Her SMACC talk left not a dry eye in the house. Cannot wait to see what she has in store for us next year

Well the reason ACEM was a real highlight for me – I got to meet and share a beer with David. His talks were inspiring, his SMART EM podcast remains the standard for FOAM quality. The knowledge translation – from evidence to practice he allows is awesome. And to top it all off – he is generous with his time. Thanks

Clearly the most controversial and fascinating topic we have covered this year – the PE debate. Just when you thought you knew it all about PE work-up, along comes Arnie and blows your mind with 3 awesome, energetic and original podcasts on the topic. These podcasts really stirred the pot and showed how FOAM can be a movement for change, open debate and lead onto excellent research questions. I am really looking forward to seeing Anand’s PE paper and hopeful some hard trials get up and running. Thanks mate

Drs Roger Harris, Oli Flower and Matthew MacPartlin – the terrific trio who are the drive and determination behind the SMACC phenomenon. Also the convenors of the really fun Bedside Crit Care conference that I attended in September. These guys have changed the way we do conferences – made it fun again. The atmosphere is one of camaraderie and equality – just wait n see come SMACC GOLD. Thanks for giving this simple country doc a guernsey on the SMACC field – it has been awesome.

Yep – he is the man! Awesome podcast, great speaker, all round nice guy. The feedback and help he gives on the technical side of the blogging is invaluable. I have yet to use his teaching to crack a chest – but this site, what you see is made so much better with his help. Thanks Scott

Chris Nickson – thanks for all your filtering and promotion of what is great in the FOAMosphere. And especially thanks for recognising this little niche blog as being useful to the wider audience! Really looking forward to the RAGE podcast in 2014 – will be la creme de la FOAM.

Mike Cadogan – another stunning year of growth, development and reinvention of his baby. We are all indebted to Mike (literally $$) for his time and expertise, his actual physical housing of about half the FOAM world in his basement!

Kane Guthrie – the Reviews just keep me sane. Every week another awesome concentration of FOAM brilliance, right into my inbox! Keep up your awesome work mate.

Everything Simon writes ends up making me re-think my approach. Makes evidence into common sense. Constantly challenging what we do – an inspiring leader. I have had the fortune of inheriting some of his trainees – and they are stellar. I only hope I send them back to the UK in a better state!

]Over the last year or so I have had the great pleasure of heading up a team of really enthusiastic, motivated and fun junior doctors. There wis no greater satisfaction for a teacher than to watch one’s students fledge and go onto great things. So I would love to wish you all the best as you head off into your careers. Special mention to James, Laura, Laura and Peter – who have accepted my challenges and down great things for the Broome Docs site.  Aahhh.. sorry about the Ashes, better luck in 2015 😉

And of course – thanks to you – the readers / listeners out there.  It is great to see the blog’s readership expanding all over the globe and I really get motivated by your comments, emails and questions.  So in 2014 – don’t be shy, join in the conversation.  Get involved in the discussions and feel free to drop me a line anytime – I am interested in anything to do with everything in medicine.

See you next year,


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