In a health care system that often lacks adequate access, many Americans turn to books, blogs or other media as a source of health and wellness information and advice. Podcasts are an easily accessible and digestible form of content that have become a popular fount of wellness information, with more than 40,000 active health and fitness podcasts housed on Apple Podcasts alone, according to Podcast Industry Insights courtesy of Daniel J. Lewis.
They’re also a great way to reach a very busy audience, like residents and fellows.
Meet the creators and co-hosts of the “Ripples: Physicians’ Wellbeing” podcast, Veena Prasad, PhD, MBA, LPC, faculty associate and behavioral health counselor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and Adriana Dyurich, PhD, LPC, faculty associate and academic success consultant in the Office for Graduate Medical Education. Prasad and Dyurich provide counseling and other support services for residents and fellows in the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine. Together, they developed the “Ripples” podcast, which invites UT Health San Antonio faculty and experts from other institutions as guests to share their medical training experiences and provide coping and wellness tips.
“I knew the residents were into social media and they liked having tips on-the-go, so I thought a podcast would be a good way to provide something like that for our audience,” Prasad said.
“We’re always looking for ways to reach out to our residents and fellows,” Dyurich said. “We know they’re busy and that not everyone keeps us in mind that we’re here for them. So, anything that we can do to remind them that we are here to help, or if we can provide something that helps them even if they can’t make it in for a counseling appointment, that’s always what we’re trying to figure out.”
“Ripples,” which first launched in March 2022, got its name after a quote from the Dalai Lama: “Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.” The quote opens and closes each episode.
The podcast is one of the many resources provided by the Office for Graduate Medical Education’s Wellness Home, an online hub that serves as a one-stop shop for the wellness needs of residents, fellows and faculty at the Long School of Medicine.
The pressures of medical training can make residents and fellows a vulnerable patient population. They may often experience exhaustion, anxiety, feelings of inadequacy and strained personal relationships. These issues can lead to depression and other mental health concerns that require unique support.
“There are things that everyone knows, how busy they are, how tired they are. But there are many things going on underneath as well,” Dyurich said.
While the podcast centers around physician wellness and the experiences of those in medical training, that doesn’t mean others can’t listen and benefit from it.
“We’re really hoping that the podcast goes beyond our institutional boundaries, anybody can listen to this,” Dyurich said. “These are tips and ideas that can help everybody.”
With episodes that cover topics like dealing with difficult personalities, setting healthy boundaries, healthy eating during training, radical self-care, yoga and how to manage finances, anyone can listen in to improve their emotional wellbeing, and all students, faculty and staff are encouraged to listen.
Each episode also ends with an actionable takeaway, called a pebble — a nugget of wisdom that listeners can apply to their lives in real time and in meaningful ways.
“A pebble is just one message to take,” said Prasad. “I tell our residents and fellows, even if you don’t have the time to listen to everything, you can just listen to just the last minute, and you will have a small tip that you can incorporate, which can then create ripples of wellness in your life.”
The first episode of Season 2 is out now, with the second episode out April 6. Catch up on Season 1 and subscribe to “Ripples: Physicians’ Wellbeing” for the newest episodes.