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Listen Up! 3 Hits and 1 Loser in the Podcast World

What does a drug-safety obsessed person do when driving 6 hours in a weekend? Podcasts. They aren't all created equal. My thoughts on 4 that I tried.
By Suzanne B. Robotti
Published: December 5, 2017
 

What does a drug-safety obsessed person do when driving 6 hours in a weekend? Podcasts. I don’t drive very often because I live in NYC. But about 2x a month I have to drive or take the train for whatever reason. I’ve been hearing great things about podcasts, so over the past couple of trips I’ve started downloading podcasts onto my smartphone.

I learned a few things: First, that I don’t easily learn by listening. My mind wanders, I ask questions, I have to rewind frequently. When I discovered interview-based podcasts, they held my attention much better. So you will see more recommendations for podcasts with 2 versus 1 speaker.

Health News Review

Gary Schweitzer’s blog is the the medical journalist junkie’s go-to read. He and his team review medical news stories for accuracy. Surprisingly, his podcasts are completely different. He seeks out opinion leaders and dives into oddly interesting stories, like what a 23-year old med student learned from living in a nursing home. Right now I’m listening to The Wild West of Stem Cells. Doesn’t everyone wonder about the claims that these miracle cells will cure most anything? Listen and learn!

Healthcare Triage

This breaks my rule on 2 speakers. These podcasts are solos by Dr. Aaron Carroll. Often he uses a Q&A format with the doc reading and responding to the questions. He talks like he’s thinking out loud, parsing the question, rewording his own answers on the fly.

I usually check if podcasts are free from pharmaceutical support and with Healthcare Triage, I’m having trouble finding out about Dr. Carroll. There is no website and scant info on podcast or YouTube intros. There’s no info on him about his training or specialty. I can’t find out who funds him or if he takes pharmaceutical money. Here’s what the YouTube About button says concerning ownership: “Healthcare Triage is made by the people who make Crash Course, mental_floss on YouTube, and The Art Assignment.” None of these companies are transparent about their ownership either.

That said, Dr. Carroll is reasonable, bases his advice on evidence-based medicine and is clear on commonsense suggestions. It was my personal favorite. I’ll continue to follow it, but please, Dr. Carroll, more background on you and your financing.

Best Science Medicine Podcast from Therapeutics Education Collaboration

This one is really for healthcare professionals. They get way into the weeds and I appreciate that — it makes me trust them even when I don’t follow them all the way into the weed patch. Michael Allan and James McCormack are on the faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of British Columbia. They spend a lot of time going over the research, so you don’t have to. The podcasts are entirely independent and supported by donations and subscriptions.

Docs Outside the Box

This one is about the business of medicine and I listened to it by mistake. I was expecting it to be doctors who think outside the box about medicine. So unless you’re a doctor who manages his/her own business, it’s a skip.

But a heads up to those docs who choose to listen: In the one 45-minute podcast that I started listening to, for the first 4 minutes and 30 seconds the podcasters read their 5-star reviews, they gave a nod to their sponsors and begged listeners to review and share podcast. One sponsor was an insurance company, but no pharmaceutical companies were mentioned. The next 3 minutes they wasted in repetitive info on the person they were to interview and telling you how important it was to continue listening. OMG, I don’t give away 7:30 minutes to BS easily. I tuned out by 8:45 seconds. Perhaps in the latter part of the podcast there was actual, useful info. Advice from me? Skip the first 10 minutes.

Suzanne B. Robotti

Suzanne B. Robotti

Suzanne Robotti founded MedShadow Foundation in 2012. Learn more about Su and her mission.

Average: 5
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