SMACCUS : Feeling the FOAM love

Writing this post from O’Hare Airport on my way back to Broome after SMACCUS.  40 hours in an aluminium tube….  [Kevin Fong has re-analysed the safety of air travel, so I’m feeling relatively safe… a bus would be safer!]

Looking back on the conference of the year.  There were some great moments, some spectacular ideas shared and plenty of education.  However, the best aspect of SMACC is the amazing connectedness and camaraderie that I feel at the tea breaks and social functions.  Sure, we all introduce ourselves by our Twitter handles! For the newcomers it seems a bit strange at first, but that moment of recognition when you can connect a smiling face to the years of digital dialogue you have shared is priceless.

On Day 1 I was due to give a talk after lunch.  As always I was a bit nervous.  I had planned a bit of an impromptu experiment in public speaking, and was a little concerned that it may flop!  Sometime in the morning I dropped my credit card in the hallway.  Man, another stress I did not need on the day!  But the awesome thing about SMACC is that a complete stranger, somebody whom I had never met online sent me a Tweet and handed it back within 20 minutes!  That is cool.  At what other conference or mass gathering would that happen?  I was feeling the FOAM Love!  And I knew that my little social experiment in evangelical Karaoke was going to work!  Everyone at this conference wants to be here, to connect, to share and get involved in the FOAM movement.

Sometimes I hear criticism of the SMACC / FOAM movement – people liken it to a cult of celebrity.  Is this true?  I don’t think so.  If anyone at the conference spent a moment chatting to the luminaries like Scott Weingart, Simon Carley, John Hinds, Chris Nickson, Vic Brazil or the other leaders – they would quickly realise that these people have tiny egos and do what they do because they want to improve healthcare.  They want the rest of us to walk out inspired, educated and challenged – to go back home and deliver the best care that is possible.

SMACC was particularly special for me this year.  I was able to meet a heap of the North American FOAMites that I have spent years working “alongside” and admiring.  On day 2 I watched the awesome spectacle that my Ultrasound buddies put together – SONOWARS.  At the end of the session James Rippey asked me to come up on stage.  James is my Ultrasound mentor – a true master under whom I have apprenticed in this crazy electronic age.  Although it did feel a bit indulgent to share this special moment in front of the crowd – I am glad we did.  For this is what FOAM is all about – finding your master, teacher or mentor.  And becoming a teacher to the next generation of brilliant young minds.

And then there was the song…

I wrote these lyrics for my lecture: “No Xray, No Problem!”  It was a talk about how we can use Ultrasound to be better doctors.  But it seems to have served as a sort of anthem for the FOAM LOVE which we all feel.  So here it is [Thanks to  @GruntDoc for the video].  Please share it with your colleagues.  See you in Dublin.   Casey

Imagine there’s no X-ray from GruntDoc on Vimeo.


  1. Hi Casey.

    I share your thoughts. A great conference with friends from around the world.

    We MUST podcast soon.

    Safe travels.


  2. Andrew Perry says

    What a great song! And great way to end what sounded like an amazing conference. Look forward to eventually meeting you in person @broomedocs. @Awalterperry

  3. Iwan Dierckx says

    I too went to SMACC Chicago, it was my first SMACC conference and one of the reasons I went was obvious all the FOAM hype about this conference. I had a good time, sang the “imagine” song and all the talks about kindness and vulnerability really hit home.

    But I also have a slight worry about this conference and the FOAM community at large. Many times I heard things like: “Met my hero”, “Unworthy to be in the same room”, etc. Even many of the speakers alluded to a feeling of “imposter syndrome”.
    I’m concerned that this hero-worshipping leads to blind acceptance that all these people say to be unequivocally true. This seemed to be confirmed at SMACC, rarely went to a conference where the speakers view was not challenged by comments or critical questions from the audience. How many critical or non positive tweets did you read from SMACC ? You would expect more from a community which pride itself on “dogmalysis”.

    Even more worrisome to me is the fact that you get the feeling that when you don’t intubate 5 patients/hour or don’t put at least one patient per shift on ECMO, you’re inadequate. This feeling of inadequacy was reinforced even more by speakers at SMACC proclaiming that trauma and sepsis should only by managed by experts (who is an expert, even the “experts” were unable to define sepsis let alone now how tot treat it). Do these resuscitationists ever treat patients with constipation or sprained ankles ? I have a suspicion that the difference in real world practice and the picture painted (every day ECMO, REBOA,…) are responsible for people getting disenchanted with their job, feeling inadequate and eventually burn out. I know this was the case for me.

    Sorry for the long post but a felt a little “hype-lysis” was necessary. Thanks


  1. […] Casey Parker at Broome Docs: smaccUS – Feeling the FOAM Love […]

  2. […] Casey Parker’s rousing singalong version of Imagine closed SonoWars at #smaccUS I put together some lyrics for another song about ultrasound, […]

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