Across all specialties and years of residency training, there are a few common themes, and one of the most frequently heard is that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day—between professional and personal responsibilities—for residents to get everything done.

Making the Rounds

Get the latest advice, interviews and discussions on the most important topics affecting the lives and careers of medical students and residents.

Looking specifically at the resident audience, a recent study of emergency medicine residents across five years of training detailed the reasons educational podcasts are a medium that time-crunched residents are turning to.

“Despite the challenges of distracted, contextually constrained listening and difficulties translating their learning into clinical practice, residents found podcasts to be an accessible and engaging learning platform that offered them broad exposure to core content and personalized learning, concurrently fostering their sense of connection to local and national professional communities,” says the study, “Independent and Interwoven: A Qualitative Exploration of Residents’ Experiences With Educational Podcasts,” published in Academic Medicine.

There are more than 40 emergency medicine-related podcasts, the study says.

The AMA’s podcast offerings include a half dozen series that appeal to audiences across the physician career spectrum. For medical residents, “Making the Rounds” features advice, interviews and discussions on critical topics such as contracting, paying off medical-student loans, and developing a wellness culture. Catch up with this great roundup of must-listen podcast episodes from the AMA.

The Academic Medicine study’s authors identified three themes that offer some explanation for the motivations and methods by which residents incorporate educational podcasts into their learning: opportunistic engagement, personalized learning and community.

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Listening to a podcast offers the ability to multitask that other educational media simply do not. In contrasting podcasts with traditional learning tools such as textbooks, respondents indicated that podcasts require less “mental energy.” Residents also found that the podcast format was generally more engaging and entertaining than traditional learning methods.

The downside to the portability that podcasts offer for residents is that they are easier to tune out. Respondents said that podcasts can, at times, get their “divided attention” rather than more intense focus. The respondents also indicated that they were more likely to listen to a podcast if the time commitment was less significant, so they could fit in within their expected time of an activity such as commuting to work.

A podcast for your commute:The dos and don’ts of the dotted line.” As a resident transitioning to practice, interviewing and negotiating your first contract involves a lot of steps. This episode of the “Making the Rounds” podcast walks you through some of the most important benchmarks.

Residents surveyed for the study found that listening to podcasts offered a sense of connection. That connection applied to residents and faculty within a program and with the resident community at large. In some instances, the residents surveyed likened their podcast listening to a book club when they did it in tandem with other physicians in their program.

Residents typically listened to podcasts alone, but, the study said, many respondents spoke of a connection to the hosts and podcast contributors. Among the reasons for that is the relatable, shared experiences covered in the podcasts.

A podcast to discuss with your co-residents: Pop medicine: How media shapes perceptions of health care, part 2.” This discussion on medicine’s presence in entertainment and social media—featuring Michael Metzner, MD, and Jeanne Farnan, MD—discuss topics such as online doctor ratings, anti-vaccine attacks on social media and celebrity doctors.

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The podcast medium, survey respondents said, offered a chance to reinforce concepts and offer exposure to new content.

The fact that residents use podcasts as a personalized learning tool, some respondents said, speaks to an “academic security” among trainees. In terms of topics residents sought out, the authors said that “using a more intentional and nuanced approach, more experienced residents listened to fill self-identified gaps in their knowledge.”

Respondents did speak to a struggle to retain information broached on podcasts, if it wasn’t something that was reinforced by their daily training interactions. According to the study’s authors: “These difficulties with retention did not lead to consistent action plans for resolving this confusion, though many residents performed quick literature searches to supplement or check their knowledge.”

A podcast to grow your knowledge base:Considering the cost of care.” Why does the U.S. spend so much more on health care than other countries? Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH, director of Harvard Global Health Institute, takes on that question.

The AMA’s roster of podcasts includes:

  • “Doc Talk,” which features conversations focusing on real-world experiences from physicians, patients and community members.
  • “Making the Rounds,” offering advice, interviews and discussions on the most important topics affecting residents’ lives and careers.
  • “AMA Moving Medicine,” which highlights innovation and the emerging issues that impact physicians and public health today.

All are available for stream or download on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

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