The tweets have been flowing plentifully from the Social Media and Critical Care conference that’s being held in Sydney this week (check #smacc2013).

The conference highlights how the online revolution is changing medical education, and not surprisingly it features some of the revolutionaries behind the push for ‘free open-access meducation’ or FOAM (#FOAMed on Twitter).

For more on the history and ambitions of FOAM (“medical education available to anyone, anytime, anywhere at no cost”), check this recent article by physician and Life in the Fast Lane blogger Dr Chris Nickson, published by the prominent US blog,

Nickson notes that now receives more than 20,000 page views daily, and that there are now 130-plus emergency medicine and critical care blogs and podcasts internationally. He writes:

“FOAM is not just for emergency medicine and critical care doctors. Other specialists have joined in, as well as our medical student, nursing and pre-hospital colleagues. A key feature of the movement is that the hierarchy is flat. There are no leaders; everyone is a leader. A nurse can teach a doctor, a medical student can teach an attending.  When it comes to FOAM, quality cannot be stopped from bubbling to the top.”

Meanwhile, those with an interest in using Twitter to share information and experiences around GP training are invited to join Drs Tim Senior and Michael Bonning at the #Supertwision Twitter stream.


Supertwision – an open invitation

Tim Senior writes:

Everyone knows what a doctor does, don’t they? And yet, I keep seeing people tripping over assumptions about exactly what it is that I and other GPs do. Most people have only the experience of the few they’ve seen.

And a related question is about how doctors are trained. It’s a complex landscape involving many organisations.

I’ve been involved with teaching doctors for a while now, at all levels from before they become doctors, through doctors doing higher professional training to become GPs to experienced qualified GP teachers.

When I was asked to teach Dr Michael Bonning, I was thrilled to have the opportunity. He is an experienced doctor, and we had the opportunity to give him his first work as a GP in an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service.

What better place to learn high quality, multidisciplinary, patient centred general practice.

The other reason I was excited was that Michael had an interest in social media use by health professionals and had published on this and worked on policy for the AMA.

The opportunity was there to extend our teaching onto social media.

What is it that GPs teach and learn? What are the essential parts of the discipline? We can discuss this in public, in real time.

But also, what did others think we should be doing? What were we missing? What would other doctors, other professions, policy makers and, most importantly, patients suggest we should be learning?

And finally, it’s an experiment in the use of social media in medical education itself. How can it be used? Would this method work? We don’t know yet.

Please feel free to observe, contribute and comment.

You can follow us on @timsenior and @michaelbonning and the hashtag #supertwision.

There will be longer form discussion at where you can post comments.

We may be experimenting with other social media tools – feel free to suggest how it could work.

Hopefully, the teaching and learning of what it is that GPs do, especially in the setting of an Aboriginal Medical Service can be opened up to, and improved by, a wide audience.

• You can find more details about Supertwision at is an example of how I hope we will be reflecting on our teaching. We invite people to observe, comment and contribute.



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