1,440 minutes—that’s the amount of time we have to spend each day, no matter who we are! Once you’ve accounted for working, sleeping, eating, and a little leisure or family time, how else might you choose to spend these minutes? If you’re looking for an entertaining and efficient way to keep up-to-date with what’s going on in the medical world, you could always tune in to a podcast (or two)!
Some podcasts are short enough to listen to on your daily commute... or what about during one of those elusive coffee breaks we vaguely remember hearing about?
Read on for our take on the top 14 medical podcasts out there right now. They mainly target professionals who’ve already got their MDs, but we’ve included a couple of gems for medical students, too.
1. New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM)
The New England Journal of Medicine is, arguably, the most important general medical publication in the world, drawing together stories on research, reviews, and opinion. The weekly podcasts are about 30 minutes long and are available on Apple, Android, and Windows devices. Don’t worry if you miss a broadcast—you can catch up with podcasts from previous weeks at your leisure. We especially like this one because, well, it’s the NEJM...what’s not to like? It’s the highest-impact academic medical journal out there!
2. Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)
The Journal of the American Medical Association covers a whole host of specialties in its podcasts—but we’re going to stick with general medicine for this one. These podcasts are normally released each month, and are about 15 minutes in length. Each bite-sized morsel of wisdom offers a great way to stay informed about the articles in each month’s issue. The fact that you can listen to a couple of these podcasts within a 30 minute commute makes them a super-efficient option!
3. British Medical Journal (BMJ)
Meanwhile, across the pond, the British Medical Journal takes a slightly different approach. It produces very short specialist pieces of less than 10 minutes duration, and longer, more general-interest pieces of 25 minutes or more. While some of the podcasts are focused on the UK National Health Service (NHS), many have global and international relevance, outlining the latest developments and thoughts in areas such as cardiology and acute pancreatitis. This podcast is appealing because of the BMJ’s long history—the journal itself has been in production since 1840, so its credentials are very well established.
4. Second Opinion
We’re staying in the UK for Second Opinion, a regular podcast from celebrity physician, Dr Christian Jenner. We enjoy this podcast, partly because of Dr Jenner’s straight-talking views on life in general and, also, because he takes a slightly different approach—his sessions take the form of interviews with studio guests on topics like addiction, detection dogs, mental health, death, and more! You'll need to allow yourself anywhere from 25–45 minutes to stay up-to-date with these guys, and the season takes a break in the summer.
For those who like a little hard science with their medicine, Nature offers a surprisingly broad range of podcasts. While some recent coverage has been dominated by the 50th anniversary of the lunar landings, other topics-of-the-day have included the fascinating effects of microbes, and sex differences on pain. There’s usually at least one podcast each week, and you’ll need to allow yourself 10–20 minutes if you’re planning on listening in full. One particularly nice feature is that Nature provides detailed timings for the start of each story. In the science world, Nature is as high-impact as the New England Journal of Medicine is in the medical arena.
6. Legends of Surgery
This collection of podcasts highlights the tales of pioneering surgeons, inventors, innovators, and specialists. You can learn about any topic, from heart surgery to surgical staplers, along with medical techniques used and developed around the world, from South Africa to Japan. We adore this podcast because it brings history to life in a really human way. Even the longest sessions are less than 20 minutes and, since they have a good archive, you can catch up with podcasts from the last few years. The guys in charge are open to suggestions for future podcast ideas, too!
7. Behind The Knife
Sticking with surgery as a specialty, the Behind The Knife podcast series runs a little longer than the others, typically lasting about 45 minutes or slightly more. Think of this as a journal club formatting a podcast! You can choose your update from either the general or medical categories, or check out the archives as far back as the beginning of the sequence (in 2015).
8. Bedside Rounds
If you’re looking for a little light relief, along with your medicine, then Bedside Rounds is right for you! This podcast was started by the author when he was a second-year resident in Oregon, back in 2015. The early podcasts are like a story you might hear if you’ve been seated next to an especially entertaining guest at a dinner party or cocktail soiree (the last description is pretty much the author’s own). In recent years, though, the podcasts have grown in depth and coverage. We especially like this one because of its humorous delivery style—the author is also careful to point out that the podcasts are not intended to replace medical advice. We also enjoy it because members of the American College of Physicians can gain CME and MOC points! Oh, and episodes are typically around 15 minutes long, so it doesn’t require too much of your spare time to feel the benefits!
9. Docs Outside The Box
Staying with a quirky, individualistic take on medicine, we’re also recommending Dr Nii Darko and Docs Outside The Box. This collection of podcasts is really eclectic. It’s all about the stories—from the business of medicine, to how women in medicine can make the most of their time and careers, to folks practicing medicine in non-traditional environments, and so much more! If you’re interested in the back catalogue as well as the current edition, you can select a category from careers, personal finance, education, entertainment, or lifestyle. To hear some of the sessions you may need to sign up for Spotify or other third-party platforms.
10. This Podcast Will Kill You
If you have a lot more time to spare, like an hour or two, then This Podcast Will Kill You offers fascinating, in-depth insights into a variety of healthcare specialties. Find out about the history of all kinds of diseases and conditions, from Helicobacter pylori to yellow fever! You can also learn how aspirin was developed and discover interesting facts about the plague and influenza. At the time of this writing, there are over 30 podcasts available.
11. Everyday Emergency
Pretty much every clinician will know about Médecins Sans Frontières (also known as Doctors Without Borders). Their Everyday Emergency podcasts are boots-on-the-ground-style, hard-hitting medical accounts from around the world that illuminate the humanitarian and human face of disasters, displacements, and conflicts. New editions of this podcast are typically added every few months, rather than weekly or monthly. These podcasts offer first-hand insights into the events that affect our entire global village. We admire this podcast for its honesty, clarity, and courage.
12. Health Now
Health Now is the name for WebMD's podcasts on health and wellness that can help you to keep tabs on what your patients might currently be a little concerned about. These podcasts are typically released every couple of weeks, and are about 30 minutes long. Recent topics have included AI—Hey Alexa! Siri! Cortana! (and anyone else we might have missed…) and measles. We like this one because it gives an insight into what real patients might be worried about.
13. Medical Education
While most of our favorite podcast recommendations are targeted toward qualified clinicians, there are some pretty useful editions which are particularly suited to medical students and educators—including Medical Education. We know how hard it is to learn about the many topics at school, let alone stay up-to-date on them! These podcasts are especially appealing because they go beyond what you can learn from lectures, and look at the world from an educational point of view.
14. Straight Talk MD
In Straight Talk MD, Dr Frank Sweeny takes a fearless look at the broader factors that can affect all of us, from the political to the controversial. Topics include vaccinations, cloning, burnout, ethics, and more—nothing is off limits! Like the UK’s Dr Jenner, Dr Sweeny also regularly interviews guests on his show. The duration of these podcasts can vary, but they are typically on the longer side, about an hour or more.
15. CareTalk: Healthcare. Unfiltered.
CareTalk: Healthcare. Unfiltered. is a weekly healthcare podcast, launched in 2017, hosted by David Williams of Health Business Group, and John Driscoll of U.S. Healthcare and Walgreens Boots Alliance.
CareTalk helps listeners make sense of complex US healthcare topics, with insiders' perspectives from some of the most high profile people in healthcare. They'll keep you in the know about the latest innovations, business developments, and policies in healthcare. In 2024, CareTalk is expanding with the introduction of a new weekly series, titled “HealthBiz Briefs,” which features quick 1-on-1 interviews with CEOs from leading digital health companies.
So, that's it—our take on the 15 best medical podcasts you need to follow! Whether you have ten minutes to spare, or ninety, subscribe to a podcast (or two) today, keep up-to-date on your knowledge, and maybe even stay entertained!
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15 medical podcasts every doctor needs to follow: @NEJM @JAMA_current @Heart_BMJ @nature @SurgeryLegends @BehindTheKnife @BedsideRounds @drniidarko @tpwky @MSF @StraightTalkMD || Check out Medmastery's medical podcast review at http://bit.ly/2LHWqIX