Blog | Monday, April 15, 2019

The role of podcasts in medical education

Obviously I am very biased, hosting a podcast now for eight months, and being a guest on two other popular podcasts – The Curbsiders and The Clinical Problem Solvers. Given my obvious conflict of interest, here are my thoughts on the contribution that podcasts are making for students, residents and practicing internists.

Two or three years ago some students asked me if there were any good podcasts to listen to while on their medicine clerkship. Soon thereafter, two things happened: The Curbsiders started their podcast and Annals of Internal Medicine asked me to develop a podcast. I had a growing love of podcasts as an accompaniment on long drives. When the Curbsiders asked me to appear on episode #16 of their new podcast in October 2016, I jumped at the chance and started my love affair with medical podcasts.

Now when I make rounds for 1/2 months or full months, I regularly recommend podcasts to the learners. Now that we have released 16 episodes of Annals on Call, I frequently get comments from colleagues and learners about individual episodes. This week at an Update in Hospital Medicine done at our noon conference, podcast episodes were quoted. Earlier this year the CMRs asked me to give Grand Rounds on social media. The response from house-staff and faculty was outstanding.

Why so much excitement about podcasts? I think it follows from the classic way we learn. Storytelling is likely the oldest form of education. We learn best from stories. This concept holds particular in medical education. Patients are our best teachers. The best is taking the history ourselves and then following the process of diagnosis and teaching. Next best is learning from someone else telling us a compelling story about a patient.

I do not think we can overestimate the value of clinical stories to expand our medical diagnostic and therapeutic abilities. As a resident, I loved and tried to never miss Morning Report. I love hearing cases presented at a conference and discussed in depth. That knowledge sticks so much better than reading an article, unless the article helps me understand my patient.

In addition to the two podcasts above, I particularly love The Clinical Problem Solvers, because each week they provide a highly selected Morning Report case to solve. They focus on the thought process and schema for evaluating a problem (syncope, eosinophilia, chest pain, etc.).

Other IM podcasts that I frequent include Core IM and Bedside Rounds. I get different things from each podcast, but most of all I get continued learning. Even at age 70, I want to continue to learn more so that I can do a better job teaching and caring for patients.

Podcasts increase learning and (in my humble opinion) the joy of medicine. As internists, we love solving our patients' puzzles. We all want to be Sherlock Holmes. This gets us closer. And I love that our students and residents are enthusiastic devourers of this teaching.

db is the nickname for Robert M. Centor, MD, MACP. db stands both for Dr. Bob and da boss. He is an academic general internist at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, and the former Regional Dean for the Huntsville Regional Medical Campus of UASOM. He still makes inpatient rounds regularly at the Birmingham VA and Huntsville Hospital. His current titles are Professor-Emeritus and Chair-Emeritus of the ACP Board of Regents. This post originally appeared at his blog, db's Medical Rants.