2017 Wrap Up

It is that time of year. Once again we reach that arbitrary point in space in which we reset our calendar, drink too much and reminisce about the birth of an idealistic, Iron- Age, itinerant carpenter. As is traditional, I would like to spend a moment reflecting on the events that have occurred during this last lap of Helios.

2017 has been a good year for the FOAMed family. There has been a lot to learn and share. The never-ending novelty of new faces and familiar, inspiring clinicians has kept us all entranced and enthused. The strongest theme emerging from the community this year has been one of inclusiveness and equality.

The amazing women who ‘FOAM’ have asserted their strong and sensible standing as leaders of our troupe. I for one am delighted to have such enlightened folk out here to ensure that we move forward with a culture of equality and unambiguous intolerance of those whom would marginalise or minimalize “minorities”.

The last part of this year we have seen the ugly reality of sexism and misogyny raise its head in all spheres of our culture. Mercifully, these heads have been consistently (with a few notable exceptions) beaten down. One senses that we are at the crest of the hill that our female friends have been climbing for many decades. I hope that going forward into the next orbit we can maintain this course and change the way we treat one another for good. So if you are looking for a New Year’s resolution that you can keep and not cost a penny – let it be this:

I will behave towards others based upon their actions, not their gender or ancestry.

If I hear or read language that degrades another’s sex or race I will speak up then and there – be it on the floor in ED or on Twitter.

I will acknowledge the difficulties and struggles that my colleagues have faced to get where they are on account o f their being born into this culture that favours men like me.

I will endeavour to ensure the next generation does not have to battle for what I take for granted.

As a white male leader it is my responsibility to model this behaviour in my workplace and online. Most importantly though – to do so for my three sons.

            There has been a global shift in our community. Although we have always been a truly international collaboration – this year has seen our friends in the LMICs increase in number and voice. One of the highlights of the DasSMACC conference was watching Dr Annet Alenyo tell her story and allow us all to understand how we can contribute to Africa’s emerging Emergency Medicine network.

Translating excellent care into a rural context is my passion. The challenge for us in the future is to not only translate the science of medicine into our own context (be that a remote Kimberley hospital or a clinic in the least resourced parts of Rwanda), next we need to start doing more research in these places. This research will change and improve our care, save money and other valuable, finite resources. However, without the assistance form our developed and already excellent centres this will be tough. The FOAMed community is in a great position to act as a bridge between these two worlds. Together we can make the world a better, brighter and more balanced place to live and do our important work.

I would like to single out a few people who have made the last year especially fun and fulfilling. This is by no means an exhaustive list. So many people have provided such great opportunities to collaborate and improve what I do at Broomedocs. So to all of you: a big fist bump and thankyou.

Dr Justin Morgenstern. The first time I read the First10EM blog I knew that Justin was a deep and reasoned thinker. In 2016 we started working together on the Journal Club podcast and I have learned so much about things that I never knew needed knowing. Now, he is a seriously busy young man who has deservedly become part of Canada’s phenomenal FOAM fellowship.It has been truly rewarding to share ideas, argue, but mostly agree with Justin. I hope you have all enjoyed our banter and we hope to keep it up into 2018. Thanks buddy!

Dr Andy Tagg. The best thing about FOAMed is developing friendships that grow and thrive over time. Andy and I first ‘worked’ together when he shared his most personal “Lesson Hard Learned” five years ago. Since then Andy has been the engine behind some of the finest FOAM out there: Don’t Forget the Bubbles blog, conference and workshops. He has been a leader in the Australian community to shine a light on the mental health and well being of our colleagues. In the last year I have been lucky enough to spend time with Andy and am grateful for the opportunities he has given me to be involved in his projects. (That reminds me – had better start prepping for DFTB 2018… see you there!

Dr Michelle Johnston I would like to thank Michelle for being Michelle. My FOAMed Twitter feed is eternally enriched by your words. In 2017 Michelle has achieved what we had all knew that she would do – she has become a published author. In a word: excellent. This is truly inspirational for those of us who love to write and do Medicine. I await my copy of Dustfall with breath held (to avoid inhaling asbestos particles…)  Specifically, I want to thank Michelle for her time and attention in editing and giving excellent feedback when I decided to write from the heart – a scary thing to do.

Dr Heidi James. Some of you might be wondering who Heidi is? Well she is a wonderful and wise GP from the eastside of Canada. Heidi has become the voice of the Primary Care RAP (not FOAMed… but really good anyway). If you want to hear what I mean then listen to her on the “Lessons Hard Learned” series or on this recent ERCast episode.  I am inspired by Heidi’s positive outlook both as a clinician and a parent. You bring so much humanity to your work and life and motivate me to be better at both.

Dr Tim Leeuwenburg. Yes, that rascal from the island off Adelaide. Tim and I have worked together on lots of stuff over the years and the last year has seen our partnership involved in some really fun and transformative projects. You may have noticed a slow down on the blog in recent months? Well that is largely because I have been working on some stuff that doesn’t show up on the FOAMEd frontline. As much fun as the FOAMed stuff is – there comes a point where one has to return one’s focus back on your own place. Tim has been a great ally in making this happen – we have developed new communities of like-minded rural doctors with the aim of applying all the cool stuff we learn online to the day-to-day coalface of rural practice.


As the year draws to a close I am taking some time away from the internet to go and explore some remote and beautiful parts of New Zealand with my family.  I will be back in 2018 with more of the same and some new stuff.  IN the meantime enjoy your January – be it shovelling snow in Canada or dodging sharks at the beach.  Thanks for all of your comments, contributions and ongoing connection.



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