This physician loves his podcast. Here’s why.

I love my podcast. I believe that it may become one of my greatest accomplishments in life. A podcast is like a talk radio show. The difference is that it is broadcast over the internet instead of on the radio. Podcasting is a fast-growing form of entertainment and educational media.

I started podcasting a few months ago and I am starting to build a significant audience. I now have regular listeners and they are having discussions about my show. People have started to contact me and ask to be interviewed. So far, I have interviewed best-selling authors, award-winning filmmakers, talented public speakers, and influential bloggers.

Why did I start a podcast? It all started in early 2018 when I was contributing to a discussion thread on Facebook about problems with addiction treatment in light of the current opioid crisis. I didn’t realize at the time that several of the people involved in the discussion managed a podcast network. Shortly after, I was invited to join the Mental Health News Radio Network. When I was asked to join, my first impulse was to say “no.”

At first, I didn’t want to have a podcast. I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to listen to me speak and interview guests. The thought of speaking into a microphone and putting recordings online terrified me. Yet, instead of saying “no,” I said “yes.”

Why was I willing to do something so new and terrifying? A few years ago, I discovered the joy of blogging. At first, it went against who I thought I was. I was terrified of putting myself out there, thinking people would scrutinize my writing and tear it apart. Yet, the reason I finally forced myself to get started in blogging was out of desperation.

In 2015, I quit my job and opened my own practice. Getting the word out to new patients was difficult and expensive. It didn’t seem possible to compete with the advertising campaigns of large practices. Then, I learned about the concept of how to reach out to my ideal patients. Generic advertising to get a lot of phone calls was not the answer. I needed to not only get the word out that I was in business, but to let people know who I am so I would attract patients looking for precisely a doctor just like me. A great way to help my prospective patients to get a deep understanding of their prospective doctor was to have accessible writing in the form of an online blog.

So, how did I come up with ideas for my blog posts? Mostly, they came from conversations with patients. I might try to answer a patient’s question in a blog post. If the same question came up again with other patients, I had the option to direct them to read my blog. In addition to trying to reach new patients, I was building a body of work that might provide useful information to anyone who came across it.

Over the next few years, my writing resonated with many people and with the major search engines. Like throwing bottles with 300 to 1000 word messages into the waves, my blog posts would interestingly reach readers in far away places. I started getting phone calls and messages from people in other states who needed help in finding out how to get help. I did my best to answer phone calls and emails and to give guidance wherever possible.

Sometimes people wanted to know how to get into a particular patient assistance program. Or, maybe they needed to know how to find a qualified doctor in their area. For a while, Google was returning my phone number as being the number for the local VA hospital. I memorized the correct number so I could give it to those callers. I discovered that it was fun and rewarding to help point people in the right direction.

When the podcast position was offered to me, before saying “no,” I thought it over carefully. It occurred to me that I could reach many more people than with my blog alone. And, by interviewing guests on my show, I would be able to carry the message of experts and people with valuable and interesting information. It would be just like blogging, but with a much greater potential to reach a large audience and the ability to help as many people as possible.

While I love all of my guests and our conversations, one guest stands out to me because he is an expert in the field in which I currently practice. He is Adam Bisaga, MD, author of Overcoming Opioid Addiction. His book is directed at health care professionals, patients and families. The book teaches us how opioid addiction should be treated. I believe that this book will save lives. It was an incredible honor to be able to speak with Dr. Bisaga for over an hour as a guest on my podcast. It is episode seven on The Rehab podcast.

Now, I am able to use my podcast as an educational tool for my own patients. The focus of my practice is the treatment of opioid dependence. When I meet with a new patient, I discuss information from Dr. Bisaga’s book. I recommend the book and I direct the patient, and family members if present, to the podcast episode.

In fact, when I walk into the room and see a patient playing with their phone, I ask them to open the podcast app and look up The Rehab. My patients get excited to see that I have a podcast. Many of them subscribe and discuss various episodes with me when they come back in.

I highly recommend the experience of hosting a podcast. It is an incredible way to communicate with your current and future patients. It is also a way to reach out to a wider audience and share your experience and that of your guests. It is incredibly rewarding to hear that people are listening to your shows and having discussions about them. It opens up the possibility for a doctor to do more than help just one patient at a time.

Mark Leeds is a family physician, can be reached at his self-titled site, DrLeeds.com, and podcasts at The Rehab.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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