Ever since I first listened to Serial I’ve become a big fan of podcasts. I listen to them pretty much constantly, and a look at my podcast subscriptions list will reveal everything from discussions about bad reality TV (hello, guilty pleasures), to crime podcasts, to comedy shows full of weird and wonderful facts. Most recently, however, I’ve started listening to a podcast about medical history. While I’m pretty sure that discussions about the back-in-the-day use of bloodletting and trepanation to treat, well, pretty much everything aren’t going to help me out much at work, there are any number of podcasts that are aimed at medical professionals as well as many geared toward more general audiences that are a little more relevant to modern medicine.
While it would be nearly impossible to give a comprehensive run down of every medical podcast out there, I’ve rounded up a few of my favorites—ranging from the clinical to the comedic—that will help keep you up-to-date and entertained. Although these podcasts certainly aren’t going to replace medical school, they’re a great way to get to know current topics of interest—and to really appreciate just how far modern medical practice has come.
This is the most strictly educational podcast on my list, and it actually includes a whole series of podcasts produced by JAMA, including editors’ summaries tailored to different therapy areas and author readings of published articles. Admittedly, I haven’t given all of these a try, but I have listened to some of the author interviews, which are discussions with the author(s) of recently published studies about the studies themselves. While these aren’t necessary something I listen to for fun, they’re an interesting way to gain a solid understanding of recent clinical research, and I often find them to be much more digestible and accessible than simply trying to read a published paper.
Recent topics: screening programs in the US, the association between rotating night shift work and coronary heart disease, HIV positive organ donors.
The Harvard Medical School (HMS) Labcast is a little less formal than the JAMA series of podcasts, and it covers a wide variety of topics—some are based on current HMS studies, while others are more abstract topics, such as the interconnection between medicine and poetry. Those being interviewed often have personal connections to their topics, and personally I love hearing people talk about things they’re passionate about, so for me this is a great selling point. Of course, being based in a major medical school, the HMS Labcast also has an obvious informational component, but I appreciate that the discussions are often very human rather than heavily clinical.
Recent topics: human health in space, improving care for transgender patients, updating the medical school curriculum.
I couldn’t leave off the podcast that started it all (by which I mean my deep dive into medical podcasts), so here it is! Sawbones is by a husband and wife duo who discuss medical history and the treatments that were once common. While I certainly wouldn’t suggest taking any sort of treatment advice from this one, if you have an interest in medical history or if you’re just looking to find out how much we got wrong before we finally got things right, this might be the podcast for you.
Recent topics: bezoars, the medical use of arsenic, Pliny the Elder.
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