Friday, August 21, 2020

Guest Post: Podcasts in Medical Education: Top Podcasts Every Family Physician Should Listen To

 - Viktoria Krajnc, MD and Michelle Sommer, MD

Podcasts play an important role in medical education. They allow busy medical students and residents to engage in asynchronous learning “on the go.” Listening to podcasts is also a useful way for attending physicians to engage in lifelong learning. Physicians can turn on a podcast at their convenience to hear the latest updates in medical practice, or to be entertained and inspired by their colleagues.

There are so many medical podcasts, it can be difficult to decide which one to listen to! There is scant research regarding podcast quality and credibility. A systematic review published in 2015 identified 151 potential quality indicators for medical blogs and podcasts, later narrowed to 13 and categorized into themes of credibility, content, and design. A 2018 AFP Community Blog post by our residency program director and AFP Podcast host Steven Brown, MD acknowledged that there had been little research performed regarding medical education podcast quality.  A 2016 AFP Community Blog post that has been viewed more than 4200 times to date provided an excellent “family medicine podcast playlist” of episodes.

Our question 

We sought to answer the following question: “With hundreds of podcasts with potential relevance to family medicine, how might educators recommend podcasts to learners and incorporate them into an educational program?” In response, we devised a systematic approach to reviewing podcasts relevant to family medicine and curated two lists of “Top Podcasts Every Family Physician Should Listen To.”

Our team 

Our team included Dr. Brown and residency faculty and AFP Podcast hosts Dr. Jake Anderson and Dr. Sarah Coles. At the time of this project, we were senior residents at the University of Arizona College of Medicine Phoenix Family Medicine Residency Program.


Dr. Brown curated our list of podcasts based on recommendations from Gabrielle Mayer and iTunes (where each podcast had at least a 4.5 star rating and multiple reviews). Our list consisted of 34 medical education or story-telling podcasts from family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology. The AFP Podcast was excluded to avoid conflict of interest. Emergency medicine podcasts were excluded to focus on primary care. We devised a Ranking Rubric to appraise each podcast, with categories including length of episode, sound quality, credibility, entertainment, ease of listening, likelihood of listening regularly, and relatability. Each category was scored on a 1-5 scale, based on specific criteria for each numeric value. For narrative/story-telling podcasts, we did not include considerations for minutes to medical knowledge or credibility. We assigned 2 people to listen to a minimum of 3 episodes of each podcast. We then re-ranked every listener’s top 5 list using the rubric.

Our Lists

Top 5 Podcasts Every Family Physician Should Listen To For Medical Knowledge (Besides AFP Podcast) 

1. JAMA Clinical Reviews

2. Primary Care Update

3. Frankly Speaking About Family Medicine

4. Best Science Medicine

5. Peds in a Pod

Top 4 Story-telling/Narrative Podcasts Every Family Physician Should Listen To

1. Sawbones

2. This Podcast Will Kill You

3. The Nocturnists

4. Bedside Rounds


It is impossible to find and listen to ALL medical podcasts, since the podcasting world is dynamic! Also, the target audience matters – certain podcasts are geared towards board exam review, while others try to teach students the basis of clinical practice. Our “Top 5” list was geared towards practicing family physicians.

The intent of listening varies: you may listen to a podcast one day for the latest evidence-based clinical updates, and may seek another podcast for entertainment or inspiration the next day.

Finally, these lists are based on the podcasts we listened to and our rankings. We hope that you find our Ranking Rubric to be useful in creating your own list.

We greatly value your feedback and look forward to your comments on Twitter or the AFP Facebook page! We hope that you listen to our virtual Society of Teachers of Family Medicine talk on August 24, 2020, titled “Podcasts in Medical Education,” where we will explain this project in greater detail.


Drs. Krajnc and Sommer were co-hosts of Season 5 of the AFP Podcast.