Journal Notes: The Journal of Graduate Medical Education Hits the Airwaves with its Podcast, Hot Topics in MedEd

May 10, 2021

One of the most exciting developments in the growth of the Journal of Graduate Medical Education (JGME) has been the creation of a podcast: Hot Topics in MedEd. Physicians, researchers, and other medical education professionals are very busy people. It's no surprise, then, that podcasts have become increasingly popular with this group. Listening to an episode during a commute, a workout, or any other time when free moments to sit down are scarce is a great way to learn about what's happening in medicine, allowing listeners to take a deeper dive into reading later.

In 2019, the staff and editors at JGME took note of the popularity of other medical education podcasts, such as KeyLIME: Key Literature in Medical Education, The Curbsiders, and Curious Clinicians. These were not only trending on podcast platforms, but were also generating conversations on social media. As the only journal devoted exclusively to graduate medical education (GME), JGME saw in these discussions an opportunity to reach an even wider audience.

While the prospect of starting a podcast at first seemed daunting  for a relatively small and young journal, it turned out to be doable. Of course, the process was not without its challenges. Editorial Assistant Emily Barnash took the production reins, starting with the first experimental episodes, and has developed it into an established part of how JGME communicates with the GME community. She will be the first to tell you it was a steep learning curve. She learned by jumping right in and continuously improving the program, episode by episode.

Beginning with the first episode, Publish or Perish: Is There a Paper in Your Poster?, released in November 2019, the podcast initially focused on providing resources and ideas for potential authors. Subsequent installments discussed the future of academic writing and publishing, including an episode on tips for authors, featuring Editor-in-Chief Gail Sullivan, MD, helping authors navigate the instructions for submitting to JGME.

As the podcast found its legs and developed, Hot Topics in MedEd began to focus more on the relevant issues facing the GME community as a whole. Later episodes invited much more collaboration with Editorial Staff members and the Editorial Board, as well as with authors themselves. As Emily Barnash describes, “Once we began incorporating diverse voices, we were able to take the conversations to a deeper level, as we did in the episode around virtual interviews. We fostered a conversation between a program director, a fellow, and a medical student. Having this space for open dialogue allowed them to speak directly and candidly to each other and to share what they were looking for in the interview process from their own perspectives.”

Another example of this type of collaboration can be found in one of the podcast's most popular episodes: USMLE Step 1 Pass/Fail: It's Time For a Holistic Review, which was released on February 15, 2021. The roundtable discussion focused on how the transition of the United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 1 scores to pass/fail may help mitigate the effects of bias and racial disparity for those underrepresented in medicine. It features JGME authors Monica Vela, MD, Kathy W. Smith, MD, and Miguel X. Escalón, MD, who discuss their experiences with the pass/fail change, their pledges for holistic reviews of applicants at their institutions, and how to put this into practice. You can also hear medical student Jasmine Solola, MA, read her letter to the medical community about her experience sitting for this exam as a Black woman. The episode was hosted by Charlotte Gamble, MD, one of JGME’s resident editors.

In the most recent episode, released April 19, 2021, physicians from the United States (Sashank Prasad, MD, Sarah E. Conway, MD) and Canada (Teresa Chan, MD, Tara Stratton, MD, Lauren Cook-Chaimowitz, MD) discuss their recently published JGME articles on how programs can create a successful parental leave policy, striving for wellness, transparency, equity, and fairness.

These are just a few examples in a growing library of episodes, all of which are available for free on the JGME website. Listeners can also tune in and subscribe to the podcast on Apple and Spotify, where JGME has seen the biggest increase in listeners. New episodes release every two months in conjunction with publication of the latest issue of the journal.

Along with going open access this year, the growth of the podcast has become another important way for JGME to reach more readers (and now listeners!) than ever before. Have you listened to Hot Topics in MedEd? What is your favorite episode? Share your thoughts by tagging @JournalofGME on Twitter and be part of the conversation.

Guest blogger Kevin Gladish is an editorial associate on the staff of the Journal of Graduate Medical Education. He’s been at the ACGME since 2016, and is also a performer, writer, and storyteller.