Below is an interview between the host of the Anesthesia and Critical Care Reviews and Commentary (ACCRaC) podcast and Doximity, followed by a brief overview of the podcast.
Doximity: What lead you to launch the ACCRaC podcast?
Jed Wolpaw, MD: I took an unusual path to medicine: Right out of college, I completed a master’s in education and was a high school history teacher. I decided to go back [to school to study] pre-med and then medicine, which eventually took me out to California at UCSF. I kind of liked everything as a medical student but in the end, matched into Emergency Medicine. I did my entire intern year in EM and then switched into Anesthesiology.
While an EM intern, I listened to EM:RAP, a podcast that I was introduced to that every EM resident listened to back then — and I think many still do. It’s a very well done podcast. When I switched into Anesthesiology, I thought ‘I’ll just find the equivalent,’ and there was nothing like it. I was taken aback and thought this was a major area of need. I didn’t have the time or energy to do it myself and knew nothing about podcasting [at the time].
When I finished residency at Johns Hopkins and my ICU fellowship, I got involved with the residency program. The woman who was the residency director at the time [asked me if I had ever thought about making] any audio resources because residents had been asking it for years. I had no idea what I would be getting into, but I thought I would give it a try and send it to our residents.
In the first episode, I gave a talk that I had given several times to residents before, thinking it would be good for a podcast. I pulled up YouTube videos on how to make a podcast and recorded it in Garage Band and posted it for our residents — who said to release it on iTunes for the public. About two years in, we’ve got about 40,000 listeners around the world, which was never anticipated.
Dox: What does the podcast aim to be for listeners?
JP: I think it fills a need. In our medical education environment today, we finally are realizing that we have adult learners. [We have] very different needs from child learners. People are starting to realize this and address them. When you think about adult learners, they learn best when they have some say or control over their learning. One of the aspects of podcasting that make it appealing to adult learners is that it’s within their control. With podcsts, you can listen as you go, as you do other things, like working out or commuting. It doesn’t necessarily add time to your day. In that sense, it can actually promote wellbeing because instead of having to choose between going to the gym or listening to a podcast, you can do both. You have that flexibility and control.
For ACCRaC, there isn’t much else that compares or has a consistent output for Anesthesiology. ACCRaC seems to have provided a service that people really wanted: high-quality coverage of important, clinically-relevant topics that give autonomy back to learners.
Dox: What is the format? How do you choose guests for the podcast?
JP: The format is mixed: maybe half or more of the episodes have a guest and the rest are me just talking about a topic. When I have a guest, I try to identify a topic that I think is good, then I’ll ask an expert in that area to come on the show. I also get contacted by folks who are interested in a topic. In general, I’m lucky to be at a place like Johns Hopkins where I’m surrounded by people who are incredible experts in Anesthesiology and Critical Care. I can walk down the hallway and find someone to be an expert for me in a given area, which I’m lucky to have.
Dox: What are some episodes the resonated with your audience? What is your favorite?
JP: Certainly, one of my favorites was the 100th episode where I got to have fun interactions with the audience members. In the prior episode, I had asked audience members to send in questions and we were able to cover more of them. We had a mix of some clinical questions and then personal questions about me.
In terms of the audience favorite, if you look at the numbers, there’s not too much of a huge difference. When I get feedback — I get emails every day from around the world — I would say the most common thing that people thank me for is the way that I sign off for each episode. I say, ‘thanks so much for listening and remember, what you are doing out there is really important and valued’. While that may sound cheesy, I really mean it. The fact that people write to me just to say thank you for that points to the real need for that kind of validation in medicine.
Dox: What does the future of the podcast look like?
JP: ACCRaC will continue to have great guests and topics — I’m excited for a couple of episodes that will be like our past debates. Through ACCRaC, the American Society of Anesthesiology has asked me to speak at the annual meeting about resident wellbeing. I regularly give Grand Rounds talks about both resident wellbeing and resident education, as well talk about how the podcast plays into both of those things. I just gave a Grand Rounds at the University of Chicago last week and will be returning in a few weeks. Also, I’ve never had theme music, but we’re sometime in the next month or two adding a theme song to the podcast, made by listener who is a composer. I think that’s going to be a lot of fun.
This podcast is good for those who are interested in: Anesthesiology and Critical Care medical education, resident wellbeing, research, adult education theory, critical thinking and reasoning
Typical length of episodes: About 30 minutes to an hour
How often a new episode comes out: Almost every week
Episode topics: aneurysms, ECT, tracheostomies, financial planning, opioids, suicide, blood management, organ donation, AICDs and pacemakers
Sample episode — "Episode 114: Anesthesia for Aneurysm Clipping With Dave Mintz": In this episode, Dr. David Mintz returns to the show to discuss anesthesia for intracranial aneurysm clipping.
Tidbit about the show: The aim of this podcast is to help residents who are reviewing for their board exams as well as to provide a forum for interesting topics, debates and interviews in Anesthesiology and Critical Care.
About the host: Jed Wolpaw, MD is the Anesthesia Residency Program director at Johns Hopkins.
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Illustration by Wendy Gu