Podcasts are increasingly being used for medical education. A deeper understanding of usage patterns would inform both producers and researchers of medical podcasts. We aimed to determine how and why podcasts are used by emergency medicine and critical care clinicians.
An international interprofessional sample (medical students, residents, physicians, nurses, physician assistants, and paramedics) was recruited through direct contact and a multimodal social media (Twitter and Facebook) campaign. Each participant completed a survey outlining how and why they utilize medical podcasts. Recruitment materials included an infographic and study website.
390 participants from 33 countries and 4 professions (medicine, nursing, paramedicine, physician assistant) completed the survey. Participants most frequently listened to medical podcasts to review new literature (75.8%), learn core material (75.1%), and refresh memory (71.8%). The majority (62.6%) were aware of the ability to listen at increased speeds, but most (76.9%) listened at 1.0 x (normal) speed. All but 25 (6.4%) participants concurrently performed other tasks while listening. Driving (72.3%), exercising (39.7%), and completing chores (39.2%) were the most common. A minority of participants used active learning techniques such as pausing, rewinding, and replaying segments of the podcast. Very few listened to podcasts multiple times.
An international cohort of emergency clinicians use medical podcasts predominantly for learning. Their listening habits (rarely employing active learning strategies and frequently performing concurrent tasks) may not support this goal. Further exploration of the impact of these activities on learning from podcasts is warranted.