Whether you are an experienced practitioner in your specialty or an aspiring medical student on a lean budget, you have one big thing in common: you’re really busy. With such a busy schedule, have you ever considered listening to medical podcasts to stay up to date and maximize your efficiency?

The booming popularity of podcasts over the past year has positively impacted medical professionals and students in many ways. From stress management to unlocking empathy, keep reading to find out how healthcare providers are benefiting from listening to podcasts. (1)

Did you know?
Podcast production and awareness have exploded in recent years. In 2006, only 22% of consumers knew what a podcast was. Now in 2019, 64% of consumers are aware of podcasting. (2)

man with headphones on looking at phone

From advice for med students to industry news for practitioners and all-around inspiring stories, podcasts offer something for all healthcare providers.

What are podcasts?

By definition, podcasts are a form of recording and making audio-based ‘episodes’ available ‘on-demand’ over the internet. They can technically be videos, but they are mostly audio files, much like music MP3s. (3)

These days, most podcasts can be both streamed or downloaded and listened to later. They also come in a variety of lengths with different topics and subjects, so you are bound to find one that interests you.

As far as medical podcasts, some are focused on medical issues or interviews, doctors host others and cover real-life case studies and journals, and societies host some.

Did you know?
This year, there are more than 700,000 active podcasts and more than 29 million podcast episodes in over 100 languages. (2)

Why have medical podcasts grown in popularity?

There’s been a dramatic increase in podcast popularity. Today, 51% of Americans twelve or older have listened to a podcast, with 32% having listened to something in the past month, and 22% in the past week. (23)
Today there is more free and subscription-based medical audio content than ever before. In fact, most of the major medical journals now produce their own health podcasts and audio briefs.

For example, The American Medical Association (AMA), The Lancet, and The New England Journal of Medicine now produce audio briefs and summaries on the latest medical research and storytelling podcasts. (4)(5)
Streaming services that have begun offering podcasts are also playing a significant role in the growth. According to Share of Ear®, 43% of monthly podcast listeners say they have listened to a podcast on Spotify, and 35% on Pandora this year.

Furthermore, audio archives are undeniably more convenient than their printed and mailed out counterparts. You can listen to something for 10-15 minutes in the car on the way to work instead of taking time out of your busy day to sit down and read an article. (6)

Did you know?
Share of Ear® is an audio listening diary survey that tracks all the different types of audio people listen to during a 24-hour period. Podcasting’s Share of Ear has more than doubled in five years, increasing 122% since 2014. (22)(23)

close up of two people recording their talk with microphones

Podcasts provide information in a way that is engaging, entertaining, and that doesn’t feel like a lecture. They also provide a more in-depth audio opportunity for the areas you are already interested in.

Audio briefs and summaries are also becoming an indispensable part of the curriculum for medical students. These days medical students spend as much time listening to medical podcasts as they do reading textbooks. And they are often doing it while exercising, commuting, or doing chores around the house. (7)

9 benefits of listening to podcasts — specifically for healthcare providers

What are the benefits of podcasts and how are doctors benefiting from listening to podcasts? We’ve outlined 9 ways of listening to podcasts that are especially beneficial for all healthcare providers. From family practitioners to naturopathic doctors.

1. Practitioners tune in on their time

One of the best parts about podcasts is you choose to listen on your time — which, as you know as a practitioner — is limited. Podcasts give you the freedom to listen when you want and how you want. You can listen to a podcast on the way to work, or you can tune in and decompress on the couch after a long workday to a TED talk. (8)

2. Podcasts can help manage stress levels

Medicine can be a very rewarding but also a very stressful profession. Luckily, listening to a podcast is an effective stress management technique. In fact, there are a variety of podcasts that offer specific mindfulness teachings that you can listen to while cleaning or exercising. (9)

Did you know?
Listening to a podcast can help you decompress after a stressful workday.

3. Medical podcasts help practitioners have tough patient conversations

For many healthcare providers, having difficult conversations with patients is a daily occurrence. There are specific medical podcasts you can listen to that will help walk you through having tough conversations with patients. There is a new podcast series by AMA, called “AMA DocTalk,” that examines real-world solutions and insights to patient case studies. (4)(10)

4. Listening improves empathy with patients

Listening to people tell their own stories on a podcast and discussing podcast topics with others can help you build empathy as a physician. Podcasts often tell these detailed and brutally honest stories you’d miss out on if you’re too busy. And they can be especially great for when you are commuting. (12)

Plus, your patients are listening to a lot of the popular podcasts out there too. According to the latest podcast statistics data, —32% —or 90 million —Americans have listened to a podcast in the last 30 days. (2)

Looking for a podcast to connect with your patients over? The Moth Radio is a great option. It’s a podcast series that tells multiple short stories for an hour of people going through some of the toughest moments in their lives. You can also listen to the Moth stories individually, which range from just a quick five minutes to forty five minute. It’s a great first podcast series to start with and is likely something your patients have listened to. (11)

5. Multitasking and podcasts go together

One of the great drivers of podcast consumption growth is that podcasts are the ultimate multitasking content format. Podcasts are easy to listen to while you’re doing other things. Choose to learn something new while multitasking. You can catch up on the latest medical jargon as you go for a jog, or you can listen to patient stories as you fold the laundry. (13)(14)

Did you know?
More than half of podcast listeners are multitasking while tuning in. (2)

6. Listening helps physicians gain a new perspective

As a doctor, it’s easy to fall into a routine rut. Looking for ways to connect with new patients and grow your patient base? If you are a visual learner, podcasts have been shown to help stimulate mental imagery and help you see things from a different, more creative perspective. (15)

7. Podcasts can make practitioners better listeners in real life

Listening to podcasts can help you become a better listener in person and help you connect with your patients on a deeper level. Tuning into podcasts can help you engage yourself more with patients, colleagues, friends, and family. There is a whole collection of TED talks dedicated to helping you become a better listener. (16)(17)

8. Bond more with colleagues and patients

Organizing and executing a book club may feel next to impossible – but committing to listening to a podcast for 30 minutes a week is more do-able and a good way to connect with colleagues. Listening to the same podcasts as colleagues from the hospital or clinic can help improve the workplace environment. (18)(19)

It can also be beneficial for treatment compliance to share and discuss podcasts with your patients.

Practitioner insight

“I talk to patients about the medical podcasts I listen to often. I also share the recordings and can do so freely. This helps me better explain the things I want them to learn and that are especially valuable” says Dr. Eli Camp, ND.

9. Medical podcasts are more engaging and less expensive than textbooks

When it comes to the benefits of podcasts in education and podcast benefits specifically for doctors, listening to medical audio files is a very cost-effective and engaging way of continuing your education throughout a demanding career. Podcasts can be a great source of information that doesn’t involve finding a quiet place and opening a book — or signing up and paying for a monthly mailed-out journal. Medical podcasts have also been shown to improve educational performance. (20)

One study found that medical students had better academic performance when podcasts were used to supplement live lectures and textbook content. (21)

medical student with headphones on, reading a book

About a quarter of Americans listen to at least one podcast per month. And medical students are likely listening to them more frequently than the average American. (2)

Practitioner insight

“In podcasts, we can talk and discuss what people want to hear. How to get back to the roots of our medicine and restore people to help vs. just treating conditions”, shares Dr. Eli Camp, ND. “Instead, the conditions are addressed as a side effect of restoring health.”

The bottom line — listen to podcasts and share

Have a favorite medical podcast or doctor’s podcast you like to tune in and listen to? Let us know which one it is and what you enjoy about it by commenting below!

Are you a healthcare provider who’s been routinely listening to podcasts? We’d love to hear about any other podcast benefits for doctors you may have noticed over time that didn’t make our list.

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