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Independent and Interwoven

A Qualitative Exploration of Residents’ Experiences with Educational Podcasts

Riddell, Jeffrey MD; Robins, Lynne PhD; Brown, Alisha MD; Sherbino, Jonathan MD, MEd; Lin, Michelle MD; Ilgen, Jonathan S. MD, MCR

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000002984
Research Report: PDF Only

Purpose: Educational podcasts are an increasingly popular platform for teaching and learning in health professions education. Yet it remains unclear why residents are drawn to podcasts for educational purposes, how they integrate podcasts into their broader learning experiences, and what challenges they face when using podcasts to learn.

Method: The authors used a constructivist grounded theory approach to explore residents’ motivations and listening behaviors. They conducted 16 semi-structured interviews with residents from 2 US and 1 Canadian institution from March 2016 to August 2017. Interviews were recorded and transcribed. The transcripts were analyzed using constant comparison and themes were identified iteratively, working toward an explanatory framework that illuminated relationships among themes.

Results: Participants described podcasts as easy to use and engaging, enabling both broad exposure to content and targeted learning. They reported often listening to podcasts while doing other activities, being motivated by an ever-present desire to use their time productively; this practice led to challenges retaining and applying the content they learned from the podcasts to their clinical work. Listening to podcasts also fostered participants’ sense of connection to their peers, supervisors, and the larger professional community, yet it created tensions in their local relationships.

Conclusions: Despite the challenges of distracted, contextually-constrained listening and difficulties translating their learning into clinical practice, residents found podcasts to be an accessible and engaging learning platform that offered them broad exposure to core content and personalized learning, concurrently fostering their sense of connection to local and national professional communities.

J. Riddell is assistant professor of clinical emergency medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California; ORCID:

L. Robins is professor, Department of Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington; ORCID:

A. Brown is acting assistant professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington; ORCID:

J. Sherbino is professor, Department of Medicine, and assistant dean, Health Professions Education Research, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

M. Lin is professor of emergency medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, San Francisco, California; ORCID:

J.S. Ilgen is associate professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington; ORCID:

Supplemental digital content for this article is available at

Acknowledgements: The authors wish to thank Rachel Howard for designing Figure 1 and Joshua Jauregui, MD, for his support.

Funding/Support: This work was funded by a grant from the University of Washington Center for Leadership & Innovation in Medical Education.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: This study was reviewed and deemed to be exempt by the University of Washington Human Subjects Division (January 19, 2016; HSD #51120) and the University of California, San Francisco Human Research Protection Program Institutional Review Board (February 7, 2016; IRB# 16-18612). The Hamilton Integrated Research Ethics Board (September 2, 2016; 2016-1430-GRA) approved this study.

Correspondence should be addressed to Jeffrey Riddell, Department of Emergency Medicine, Keck School of Medicine of USC, 1200 N. State Street, Room 1011, Los Angeles, CA 90033; telephone: (323) 409-6667; email:; Twitter: @jeff__riddell.

© 2019 by the Association of American Medical Colleges