The Podcast by Fellows for Fellows

Publication
Article
Oncology FellowsVol. 14/No. 2
Volume 14
Issue 2

Daniel J. Hausrath, MD, discusses a collaborative effort to produce a podcast for fellows that reviews the fundamentals, core concepts, and important management approaches in the field, as determined by the latest evidence and expert opinion.

Daniel J. Hausrath, MD

Daniel J. Hausrath, MD

"Hey, you know any good podcasts?"

I remember asking my senior fellows this very question when I started my fellowship a few years ago. As a resident, I had enjoyed listening to a broad range of podcasts discussing current topics and fundamental reviews in internal medicine, and I was excited to see what was out there for the next phase of my training.

However, most of the fellows I spoke to weren’t familiar with the medical education podcast world. The recommendations I did receive were for highlevel podcasts that read more like the editorial pages of a medical journal or the Q&A at a professional conference than The Curbsiders, an internal medicine podcast. I chalked this up to a small sample size—our program has just 21 fellows across all years—but as I looked around, I couldn’t find anything to match what I was looking for.

Then I forgot about it. For better or for worse, my first year kicked into high gear and my brief quest for podcasts was lost in the churn of call nights, conference presentations, and bone marrow biopsies.

Fast-forward 2 years to August 2021. I’ve become a senior fellow looking to pursue a career in nonmalignant hematology. I had just presented a case of relapsed Hodgkin lymphoma at our weekly case conference when I received a text from my friend Vivek G. Patel, MD, a fellow in the class behind me. He asked whether I would be interested in collaborating on a medical education project. Along with Ronak Mistry, DO, a first-year fellow, he had been looking into starting a podcast for hematology/oncology fellows, earlier-stage trainees, and any other individuals interested in the field.

All 3 of us found the podcast medium appealing. What other format could blend lighthearted banter, high-yield clinical pearls, and case discussions into an educational resource designed to be consumed in a broad range of settings? After all, you can’t work through a question bank on your commute to the hospital or pore over evidence-based guidelines on a jog through the park.

When we first met and began working on the project, we realized that we all had the same experience of looking for something that simply wasn’t there: a podcast reviewing the fundamentals of hematology and oncology. Don’t get me wrong; podcasts focused on the latest practice-changing research like Uromigos, hosted by physicians at Vanderbilt, and Research to Practice are fantastic offerings. Free and open access to attending-level discussions on the field’s cutting edge is an incredible resource, but when we were medicine residents or first-year fellows looking to get up to speed, we weren’t there yet.

Vivek, Ronak, and I set out to create an asynchronous learning platform for individuals with an interest in the field while keeping a sense of fun and excitement at the heart of the experience. We wanted to introduce the basic science behind clinical phenomena, not as a burden to be memorized before in-service or board exams, but as a way to more deeply understand the disease states we see every day in the clinic and on the wards.

We chose the name The Fellow On Call in part to remind ourselves and our listeners of the stakes involved in our work. For a fellow, nights on call are your first major test as a clinician. You are expected to operate more independently and leverage your foundation of medical knowledge to make clinical decisions across a broad range of disease states: sickle cell, small cell, stem cell, and everything in between.

Although none of us had direct experience producing a podcast, Ronak had connections from his residency with podcast creators who were able to give him a rough road map to getting the project off the ground. Vivek had some experience with video and audio editing and set up the recording software and equipment we would need to generate a quality product.

Even with these advantages, getting started was a challenge. Finding the time to schedule a regular recording session each week wasn’t easy. In fact, the name of the show is partly in reference to Ronak’s intense first-year call schedule. We recorded our first episode 5 or 6 times—our collective suppression of the experience makes it tough to remember exactly how many times we talked about the work-up for thrombocytopenia—and we’ve had no shortage of technical hiccups along the way. We’re still learning the process as we go, but we’re still excited about the project and are hopeful that our listeners are too.

The goal of our show is to deliver the fundamentals, core concepts, and important management approaches in the field, as determined by the latest evidence and expert opinion. We have a long and growing list of topics we want to cover, and we’ve tried to organize clusters of topics into miniseries to provide additional structure to the episodes. We focused our first several series on emergency situations we face as fellows and critical knowledge areas we didn’t learn about in depth until we started fellowship, as reflected in our hematopathology series.

We have episodes planned about hemophilia, hyperviscosity syndrome, graft versus host disease, and a range of other subjects we didn’t see frequently in our internal medicine training. We’ve tried to maintain a balance of topics related to both hematology and oncology to keep our appeal as broad as possible. We’re also looking forward to collaborating with more guest hosts in the future, making sure we can expand the number of perspectives the podcast has to offer. Most of all, we are happy to know people are listening. The 3 of us could talk all day about the things we find interesting or a fascinating clinical pearl we’ve just learned. Having a way to share that sense of discovery is a dream come true.

We publish new episodes on Wednesdays, available to stream on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. In each episode, Ronak, Vivek, and I provide bite-sized, simplified approaches to common questions that are perfect for anyone interested in hematology and oncology, from students and trainees to advanced practice providers and practicing physicians. Check out prior episodes and learn more about our show at www.TheFellowOnCall.com and follow us on Twitter @TheFellowOnCall and Instagram @thefellowoncall.

Daniel J. Hausrath, MD, is a clinical fellow in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

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