Dear Listeners & Peds ICU community, WE are back on air!

Welcome to PICU Doc On Call, A Podcast Dedicated to Current and Aspiring Intensivists.

I’m Pradip Kamat coming BACK to you from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta/Emory University School of Medicine

and I’m Rahul Damania from Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital and we are two Pediatric ICU physicians passionate about all things MED-ED in the PICU.

PICU Doc on Call focuses on interesting PICU cases & management in the acute care pediatric setting.

As we turn into a new year, we would like to introduce Season 2 of PICU Doc on Call. 

Yes Pradip, I am super excited for this year & I want to take this moment to thank YOU all, our listener community for making PICU Doc on Call such a success as we share our passion for medical education thru this forum!

This episode will give you a quick layout of how we will be organizing each episode of PICU doc on call this year. We will also highlight some tips and tricks on how to best learn from a medical podcast. Our goal in this episode is to provide you a framework on some best practices in medical podcasting and how to retain information from a podcast. Especially for our past & future episodes, we hope you can use this audio learning platform to assist you in applying the knowledge at the bedside when you are working in the acute care setting.

Let’s get into our first learning objective,

Rahul, did you know that learning via podcasts can actually benefit your brain & change the neural chemistry.

In fact, a 2016 med ed study published  out of UC Berkeley concluded that listening to narrative stories from podcasts can stimulate multiple parts of your brain such as the limbic system and can enhance mood as it modulates dopamine and serotonin driven neural pathways. Think about listening to your favorite true-crime podcast  — the suspense actually allows for you to stimulate centers in your medulla that increase the amount of endorphines, dopamine and serotonin that keep you on the edge of your seat.

That is so unique, so based on this, I do want to highlight some of the key elements which will make our podcast or any medical podcast you listen to beneficial. These pearls will also help you if you are developing a medical podcast of your own!

The first concept here is that many podcasts provide narratives.

When it comes to medical podcasts, narratives are in the form of medical cases which allow for you to retain content knowledge as a patient case invokes emotion and this can help you remember information more robustly.

When listening to a podcast, you have to use your imagination to picture what’s going on. For example, if I painted a 2 yo M with a history of rhinorrhea at home for about a week who now presents to the ED with subcostal & intercostal retractions that then progresses to intubation in the PICU, you not only are envisioning a patient in front of you, but also are shifting your mind across settings. Our brain has to work at the pace of the audio, so hopefully your mind doesn’t wander off like it does when reading a textbook page. And because you have to actively think, you can retain much more.

The second advantage of audio learning is that it provides flexibility and accessibility

When it comes to incorporating a podcast into your daily learning, it is easy, at any time of the day, you can open up your smart phone and access your Apple podcast or Spotify app and listen to a short episode on a certain topic. I would really encourage you to have a portion of the day, whether it is your commute, during chores, or even during a workout to incorporate listening to a podcast in your daily learning. Especially for PICU DOC ON CALL, our episodes are on average around 20 minutes to really capture your attention span.


In fact, a very interesting study published in 2022 by Wolpaw et al. looking at knowledge retention from a podcast showed that

trainees preferred podcast learning over reading for many topics.

When compared to textbook reading, podcast learning (seated or on a treadmill) produced significantly better learning gain, and equivalent retention for two of the three topics which they piloted in the study. This study even hooked the resident & med student participants to an EEG to highlight increased attention when using an audiobased tool.

Finally, a good medical podcast follows a consistent outline or organization & is rooted in principles of multi-media learning.

Multi-media learning theory specifically comes from Dr. Richard Mayer from UC Santa Barbara. His lab focuses on learning science and use of ed technologies.

Some of the key multi-media principles which make podcasts such a unique form of learning involve:

Dual channel processing — the fact that we can utilize both visual and audio representations.

WE are really passionate about this theory on PICU Doc on Call, so make sure you check out our chalk talk infographic & show notes which are paried with each episode; they will help you garner a visual representation of the content we cover!

That’s great, I think another unique multi-media principle is to have a minimization of extraneous load, i.e. the fact is that effective podcasts cut out redudancy, have optimal length of segments, & have user controls like double speed, etc.

The key summary which we would like to impart on you:

Utilize medical podcasts to actively learn — try to identify relevant material which is new to you and create a schema so that you are able to connect the information to your prior knolwedge. This idea of knowledge construction where you can integrate new information with prior experience is crucial in creating long-term memory with podcasts. Podcasts are unique to Adult Learning theory because they are a great self directed way to enhance your learning. Imagine this, you see a patient with ARDS in the PICU or on transport, you can easily direct your learning to a podcast to help solidify what you see & optimize your management decisions.

This is great, Pradip, do you have other tips on how we can effectively learn from a medical podcast?

Yes, I like to hit the pause button often during an in-depth podcast. It helps me stop for a moment and digest the information so I can link it to my clinical experience or knowledge which I have read in the past.

I also try to keep a small notebook in my pocket which I can write out anything that resonates with me — writing it down helps me remember & I can have an area which acts as my second brain as I develop lectures or even teach on rounds.

Such great advice, I also think listening to a podcast and discussing the contents with a colleague or your learner group is so essential. This principle comes from a highly recommended book on learning science called Make it Stick by Peter Brown and colleagues out of their research lab in St Louis and one of the quotes which really resonate with me is:

“Learning is deeper and more durable when it’s effortful. Learning that’s easy is like writing in sand, here today and gone tomorrow.”

Taking that extra effort to construct a mini-chalk talk for your learner group after you listen to the podcast or incorporate it into your next fellow didactics may be helpful for you to retain the new information!

To wrap up this episode, Rahul do you mind sharing with our listeners on how each of our upcoming podcasts in Season 2 will be organized?

Start with a case to highlight the PICU topic at hand

We will provide you a case summary highlighting the pertinent positives and negatives

Go into a board style multiple choice question to help assess your knowledge

Provide diagnostic and management frameworks highlighting relevant literature which surround the topic.

We aim to make this season’s podcasts very dynamic, engaging, & practical. We hope to have you listen to our podcast and actually garner some content that you can incorporate in your practice as well as even utilize to teach your learners/colleagues

Just a quick anecdote, I recently gave a lecture to the EM residency at Cleveland Clinic & before the didactic session, I did assign a podcast to listen to! I see this flipping the class room idea in the undergraduate medical school realm & I really think leveraging this model in the graduate med ed realm is on the horizon.

This concludes our first Season 2 episode on How to Learn & Retain Knowledge from a Medical Podcast. We hope you found value in our short podcast. We really would like to welcome you to share your feedback, subscribe & place a review on our podcast! Please visit our website which showcases our episodes as well as our Doc on Call infographics. PICU Doc on Call is co-hosted by myself Dr. Pradip Kamat and Dr. Rahul Damania. Stay tuned for our next episode! Thank you!


Wolpaw J, Ozsoy S, Berenholtz S, Wright S, Bowen K, Gogula S, Lee S, Toy S. A Multimodal Evaluation of Podcast Learning, Retention, and Electroencephalographically Measured Attention in Medical Trainees. Cureus. 2022 Nov 9;14(11):e31289. doi: 10.7759/cureus.31289. PMID: 36514626; PMCID: PMC9733582.

Brown, Peter C. Make It Stick : the Science of Successful Learning. Cambridge, Massachusetts :The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2014.