Our Story

“There has GOT to be a better way.”

In 2014, our team was frustrated by the lack of options for U.S. emergency medicine (EM) residents to fulfill the Individualized Instruction Instruction criteria for asynchronous conference credit. Most options required a paid subscription. Individual residency programs were left to decide which online resources were high-quality and trustworthy to recommend to their trainees. 

We thus assembled a team of educators who collectively assessed open-access blogs and podcasts using a 5-domain scoring instrument. Resources which scored ≥30 points (out of 35) were awarded the Approved Instructional Resources (AIR) stamp of approval. This launched our AIR Series which published 6-8 modules per year by organ system. AIR content was shared and quizzes were implemented using Google Forms before we quickly transitioned to our own learning management system when over 50% of all U.S. EM residency programs used the series in our first year.

ALiEM University (ALiEMU) was created in 2015 initially to only house the AIR Series. But when we quickly grew to 12,000 ALiEMU subscribers, we realized that people are searching for trusted courses. We regretted not building the site to anticipate this growth and could not scale-up without investing a small fortune to upgrade and maintain the site. 

ALiEMU Learners
ALiEMU Course Certificates Awarded

Now fast forward to the year 2020. 

We have stripped the entire site to keep the critical elements and then rebuilt around it using newer platforms, plugins, and features, all while keeping modern educational learning frameworks in mind. That means a more visually friendly course layout, digital badges, and email newsletter to share when a new course is available to name a few benefits. Most of the upgrades are on the backend that you do not see but will enable for more quality courses to be uploaded quickly and efficiently. We did, however, remove the complex linked-coaching model. Instead, now anyone can view anyone’s completed course hours for the current academic year (July-June cycle) on the Public Report page.

The AIR Series continues to be our most popular series and is exclusively supported and sponsored by the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM) who share our vision for quality digital education. Over 40,000 certificates have been awarded for free to anyone who wants to learn. We also have added our original series, Capsules (EM pharmacology and toxicology education) and PEM POCUS (pediatric emergency medicine point of care ultrasound series, hosted by UC San Francisco). Read about all our different series. With the ALiEMU relaunch in August 2020, we can not wait to share all the new content that we have planned. 

We wish to thank all who have previously contributed to evolution and growth of ALiEMU and all its courses. This includes Dr. Andy Grock, Derek Sifford, Dr. Chris Gaafary, and Dr. Charlotte Lawson. Learn more about the current outstanding ALiEMU team, dedicated to ensuring a quality learning experience while upholding our motto: “Be free to learn.

ALiEMU Mentions in the Literature

  1. Chan TM, Thoma B, Krishnan K, et al. Derivation of Two Critical Appraisal Scores for Trainees to Evaluate Online Educational Resources: A METRIQ Study. West J Emerg Med. 2016;17(5):574-584. https://escholarship.org/uc/item/5tz4h0dz
  2. Fallon T, Strout TD. Free Open Access Medical Education (FOAM) Resources in a Team-Based Learning Educational Series. West J Emerg Med. 2018;19(1):142-144. doi:10.5811/westjem.2017.11.35091
  3. Gauthier TP. Insights on ALiEM: An Emergency Medicine Resources for Pharmacy Education and So Much More. IDStewardship [blog]. Jan 2018.
  4. Langdorf MI, Lin M. Emergency Medicine Scholarship in the Digital Age. West J Emerg Med. 2016;17(5):511-512. doi:10.5811/westjem.2016.8.32283
  5. Lin M, Joshi N, Grock A, et al. Approved Instructional Resources Series: A National Initiative to Identify Quality Emergency Medicine Blog and Podcast Content for Resident Education. J Grad Med Educ. 2016;8(2):219-225. https://www.jgme.org/doi/full/10.4300/JGME-D-15-00388.1
  6. Thoma B, Chan TM, Kapur P, et al. The Social Media Index as an Indicator of Quality for Emergency Medicine Blogs: A METRIQ Study. Ann Emerg Med. 2018;72(6):696-702. doi:10.1016/j.annemergmed.2018.05.003
  7. Thoma B, Sebok-Syer SS, Colmers-Gray I, et al. Quality Evaluation Scores are no more Reliable than Gestalt in Evaluating the Quality of Emergency Medicine Blogs: A METRIQ Study. Teach Learn Med. 2018;30(3):294-302. doi:10.1080/10401334.2017.1414609