CanadiEM: Accessing a Virtual Community of Practice to Create a Canadian National Medical Education Institution
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Background: The rise of free open-access medical education (FOAM) has led to a wide range of online resources in emergency medicine. Canadian physicians have been active contributors to FOAM. Objectives: We aimed to create a virtual community of practice that would serve as a national platform for collaboration, learning, and knowledge dissemination. Methods: CanadiEM was formed in 2016 from the merger of two Canadian websites and a podcast. Using a community-of-practice model, we introduced two training programs to support junior community members in becoming core editorial team members and employed asynchronous Web technologies to facilitate collaboration. We also introduced a coached peer review process and formed strategic alliances that aim to ensure a high quality of publication. Results: CanadiEM has become a portal for readers to access a broad range of FOAM content. The website has published 782 articles. Of these, 71 have undergone a coached peer review process. The website has received over 2.5 million page views from 217 countries, and the associated CRACKCast podcast has been downloaded over 750,000 times. Conclusions: CanadiEM has succeeded in building a national multi-interface dissemination network that fosters collaboration and knowledge sharing in emergency medicine while fostering junior digital scholars. The construction of a community of practice has been facilitated by quality assurance, training programs, and the use of asynchronous Web technologies. Ongoing challenges in sustainability include a volunteer workforce with high turnover.