10 Great Podcasts for Preparing for PA School

I love podcasts. They are a fantastic, convenient way to learn new things—I play them while I’m driving, while I’m in the shower, while I’m catching up on housework. Podcasts helped me successfully apply for PA school (see the first one mentioned below!), and now that I've been accepted, I've been listening to medical podcasts to help me prepare for when I officially start my PA education in a few months.

Some medical and PA podcasts are definitely better than others. After lots of searching and listening, these are the most helpful and understandable that I've found.

Essential for the Pre-PA

Great info on getting into physician assistant school

The Pre-PA Club (The PA Platform)

If you are still in the process of preparing to apply for PA school, this is the one podcast you absolutely must listen to. I’ve found a handful of other podcasts that attempt to talk about the process—all of which seem to fizzle out after just a few episodes. Savanna Perry, PA-C, the founder and host of this podcast, however, has kept this one going strong. She also runs an accompanying website called The PA Platform, and hosts a very active Facebook group also called The Pre-PA Club.

Information from Savanna’s podcast was seriously a big part of me getting into PA school. I especially recommend the earlier episodes, which break down the things you absolutely have to know about the process of getting into PA school, including prerequisites, shadowing, the GRE, how the general application CASPA works, writing a personal statement, and preparing for interviews. She also has many episodes where she interviews students who have gotten accepted, practicing PAs, and even PA school admissions personnel.

My Favorite Medical Podcasts

Packed with info and easy to follow

Mayo Clinic Radio (The Mayo Clinic)

The Mayo Clinic has a ton of informative podcasts, out of which this one has become my favorite. The show’s hosts—one physician and one reporter—talk about a huge range of health-related topics, interviewing expert clinicians and researchers for the latest evidence-based information. Episode topics have included peripheral artery disease, esophageal cancer, lifestyle factors and brain health, advancements in breast cancer screening, the safety of electronic cigarettes, and the gut microbiome.

Unlike many Mayo Clinic podcasts—and many podcasts geared specifically at PAs—this one is more geared towards a general audience, not necessarily professionals. Though I’m starting PA school soon, I’m not yet a health care provider, and I find that podcasts geared towards providers are often a bit over my head. This podcast is a great combination of the latest information and research that you hear directly from researchers and highly skilled providers, but packaged in a way that is more digestible. I’ve learned a lot from this podcast.

2 Docs Talk (Independent)

I love this podcast. Like the name suggests, it consists of two physicians talking about some topic in medicine. Episode topics have included “lifespan” vs. “healthspan,” cervical cancer and the HPV vaccine, drug prices, medical errors, urinary tract infections, opioid abuse, and physician burnout.

Their informative, 15-minute episodes include clear explanations and an informative discussion, and often include summarizing research and recommendations, all in an engaging way that even the layperson can follow. They’ve helped me understand difficult concepts like why yearly mammograms are no longer recommended (a counterintuitive idea!). The podcast no longer comes out regularly, but all the episodes incredibly informative and worth a listen.

What the Health? (Kaiser Health News)

This weekly podcast from Kaiser Health News is an excellent one-stop source to stay up-to-date with national health policies and news in the US. Episodes run 30-40 minutes, and consist of a revolving panel of health reporters discussing notable updates in the nation.

This podcast is easy to listen to and packed with understandable information. The episodes include topics like new national health-related bills and laws, clear explanations of national policies, updates on court cases challenging the Affordable Care Act, national changes in abortion legislation, and where candidates for office stand on health care. It’s a great resource for staying informed and up-to-date, as well as for understanding how health care works in our country.

Real Life Pharmacology (Med Ed 101)

This podcast was created by and is hosted by a pharmacist, Eric Christianson, PharmD. Each episode is a simple, clear breakdown of a specific medication, with the host explaining the drug’s class, uses, and side effects. Episodes hover around 15 minutes.

NEJM Interviews (New England Journal of Medicine)

The New England Journal of Medicine is a well-respected journal that publishes the latest medical research. This podcast isn’t just focused on research, though, with episodes on topics that cut a wide swath, including public health and health policy, the treatment of specific diseases, and preventative care. Many episodes are ten minutes or less, making it an efficient way to learn something new.

Conversations with Dr. Bauchner (The Journal of the American Medical Association)

This is another podcast from a well-respected medical research journal, this time JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association). As the name implies, it is hosted by Dr. Howard Bauchner, the editor-in-chief of the publication. Some episodes also count as continuing medical education (CME) credits.

This one is a bit more focused on summarizing research from their publications—instead of having to slog through dense journal articles, this podcast consists of interviews with authors, researchers, and practitioners, who explain things in a clear, understandable way. I also like that this podcast includes many episodes summarizing the recommendations from the US Preventive Services Task Force, or USPSTF. Members of the Task Force are volunteers who systematically review research on the effectiveness of screening for different health conditions, then issue a recommendation on the effectiveness of that screening.

Fun to Listen To

These podcasts are fun to listen to, and happen to also include some useful medical information along the way

Sawbones (Maximum Fun Network)

This awesome podcast is hosted by a husband-and-wife team, a couple who also happen to be a physician (her) and a…video game reporter/comic? maybe? (him). The podcast started with the purpose of discussing historical medical practices, but over its many very successful seasons, it has expanded to talk about not-so-historic topics, too (taint tanning, anyone?). Entertaining and sometimes even laugh-out-loud funny, the 35- to 50-minute episodes on various medical topics are nonetheless well-researched and informative.

Bedside Rounds (Independent)

This podcast is hosted by Dr. Adam Rodman, who started it during his second year of residency. He explains on his website, www.bedside-rounds.org: I originally started it after I wasn’t able to find a great narrative-based medical podcast like Radiolab or 99% Invisible, and in a delusion of grandeur, decided to make my own. And if you listen to my early episodes (which I’ve left up, for posterity), that is what you’ll hear — my attempts in what counted for free time in residency to craft an interesting story that I might tell at a cocktail party.”

I confess I’ve only listened to the earlier episodes of this podcast, episodes which are “narrative-based,” with interesting factoids and anecdotes from the world of medicine. There is certainly useful information in them, but the episodes are more just interesting than solid educational content.

I learned from the website, however, that the podcast has since grown, and now even has an editorial board and a peer review board behind it. I also found out continuing medical education (CME) and maintenance of certification (MOC) credits are now available for listening! I’m looking forward to listening to more episodes.

Bonus: For the Aspiring Dermatology PA

The Beauty Brains Podcast (Independent)

I know there are a lot of pre-PAs and PA students out there who want to go into derm! This podcast isn’t run by clinicians, rather by a group of cosmetic scientists with expertise and work experience in creating cosmetics. Read: They are the people formulating and testing cosmetics. They know what goes into them, how they are regulated, and how they are approved and tested. The hosts of the podcast look at research studies as well as their own expertise.

This podcast has some fascinating information. The hosts have talked about things that I think patients would ask you about as a provider! Episodes have covered topics like fragrances and fragrance allergies, synthetic colors, the effectiveness of anti-aging products, dermal rolling and acne scars, estrogen in beauty products, the effect of vitamin C on your skin, and lead in lipstick. Episodes are pretty loosely formatted, and run 30-60 minutes. They also love answering questions submitted by listeners, and there is a very active forum with answers to questions on their website, as well.

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