Medical Podcasts: The (unofficial) Definitive Review

by JUMAANA ABDU


Is Spotify’s Discover Weekly letting you down? Are you sick of your favourite playlist, bored or lonely in your quiet apartment, antsy on the glacier-like 891? Podcasts may well be your new best friend! In short, podcasts are free, downloadable, and available via iTunes, Soundcloud, Spotify, YouTube etc. They can range from radio talk-show-esque, to advice podcasts, to fictional storytelling- the sky’s the limit. Here are some great podcasts that are perfect for revising, broadening and supplementing your medical degree…

Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine

Sawbones_lgOk so imagine Josh Gad was married to a doctor. That’s basically Sawbones. Sydney McElroy, a GP in the US, explains a galloping variety of medicine-related topics to her husband Justin, a theatre actor with no medical knowledge whatsoever. The results are hilariousbut also often touching and illuminating. For example, they did a pod on Immigration Medicine, explaining the evolution of medical screening of refugees throughout history; while Justin provided entertaining non-medical commentary, Sydney would point out the injustice in the many insurmountable bureaucratic hurdles migrants would be asked jump to make it to America. Their pod on the history of Detox and fad diets was far more light-hearted and comical, while their pod of the Tetralogy of Fallot was informative and inspiring. My only pet-peeve is the sponsorship segment. That being said, I’m glad they’re getting sponsored because after only a couple of minutes listening to these guys, you can’t help but want to invite them to a barbecue. This is couple goals, entertaining for medical and non-medical listeners alike.

Recommended episodes to start with: Opioid Addiction, Immigration Medicine, Ginger, Detox, Tetralogy of Fallot, Chicken Pox

MedConversations

medconversationsIt took me a couple of listens to get into these Aussie legends, because at first it seems a little sterile compared to Sawbones. But after a while, you start to really love the laid-back Aussie humour and the constant banter. On top of that, it’s super informative. Davor and Bec are young Melbournian doctors, fresh out of uni, and boy are they good at summarising. At the beginning of each episode they start with a mock clinical case, then they take you through typical aetiology, presenting symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, as well as exemplifying how to summarise patient histories. The two are great friends, so their good rapport makes for an enjoyable, engaging listen. I often listen to these guys on my way to and from hospital, and it’s given me a clinical advantage in a surprising number of scenarios. For example, in HMB I would listen to their pods on DKA and AKI etc, then when taking the history of a renal patient, I’d have a much better idea of what to look for. There’s no imperative to listen in order, so have a scroll through and find an episode that’s a relevant clinical supplement to whatever you’re learning.

Invisibilia

invisibiliaI cannot recommend this enough. Although not strictly medical, this factual podcast delves into genuinely eye-opening and life-changing explorations of the invisible forces that shape the world around us. It combines psychology, philosophy and real-life stories and the result is both profound and engrossing. I often find myself thinking about episodes I listened to months ago. It may not be pure medicine, but I think it’s essential for doctors to try and immerse themselves in exercises of empathy, attune themselves to the strange and wonderful within human nature. Start with any episode, it’s sure to get you hooked. I want to give summaries of some episodes, but the twists and turns are too good to spoil. Please listen to this.

A Gobbet o’ Pus

gobbet o pusThis guy is well beyond graduation, working in an American hospital. He gives very short summaries of interesting cases he encounters (ranging from 2-6 minutes), adding a little bit of commentary each time. It comes off as a sort of short audio vlog. Personally, I don’t enjoy this podcast as much as the others, and I also find that in the small time-frame he only really has time to brush over everything. This being said, it would be more useful to older students who spend much more time in clinical settings than I do as it would expose them to a wide variety of different cases in a manner suited to their time-poor schedules. It’s also great for practicing summaries.

The EM Clerkship Podcast – Emergency Medicine for Students

EM casesYoung Dr Zack Olson puts out podcasts each no longer than 10mins, running through a variety of clinical presentation as well as some useful tutorials (e.g. summarising patient histories). Despite how short these are, they are really informative. They may be a little above my Phase 1 student paygrade, but Olson manages to pack each episode with tonnes of experience, getting across the most important questions to ask yourself and things to look for in different scenarios. He also runs through the usual treatment administered in most cases. I still prefer MedConversations as a learning tool – even though Olson’s audio equipment is undeniable superior (don’t they sell quality mics in Melbourne??).

Emergency Medicine Cases

em clerkshipIf you’re looking for a podcast by legitimate medical experts, this is it. Unlike the other podcasts, this one is run by a team of emergency medicine specialists who bring relevant expert guests on to the show for different topics. The episodes themselves range from over an hour long, to under 15 minutes, depending on what kind of episode it is. I find it less engaging than most of the aforementioned pods but it does go through some really interesting and complex cases. For example, they recently put up an episode on ‘Biohazard Preparedness’, during which a disaster medicine expert explains on how to deal with issues such as treating patients with Ebola or SARS.

PS: Also worth checking out are the blogs and podcasts uploaded to On The Wards. They have some excellent articles, such as on motherhood in training and balancing medicine and relationships as well as other educational ones. I didn’t include them because I haven’t properly listened to their podcasts, only read some articles.

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