Physician Assistant Educators Using Podcasts as Instructional Platform

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Rather than listening to music, Kristopher Maday, MS, PA-C, program director and associate professor in the UTHSC Physician Assistant (PA) Program, started listening to podcasts on his more than one hour and twenty minute commute while working part-time as an emergency medicine physician assistant.

Kristopher Maday works with physician assistant students in a lab in the Center for Healthcare Improvement and Patient Simulation. (Photo by Allen Gillespie/UTHSC)

That was in 2013 and at the time, clinical education podcasts were relatively new and Maday stumbled upon a podcast focused on emergency medicine. “I started listening and realized you know, I’m a pretty good emergency medicine PA, but they were talking about stuff that I had never heard of or research I didn’t even know existed,” Maday said. “It really fascinated me that there were people out there at the forefront of medicine who were willing to spend their free time broadcasting free to anyone willing to listen in order to improve their clinical practice.”

Discovering a lack of podcasts focused on PA education, Maday decided to start a podcast of his own and said producing a podcast using one’s time, energy, and money, solely for educating others is the “epitome of service.”

“I looked online and all of the podcasts were done by individuals who were clinically practicing,” Maday said. “So I looked and there were no podcasts out there from a PA educator geared to PA students to better improve their rotation experience, or information about being a PA. That was my impetus for jumping in.”

Maday created the PAINE podcast which stands for Physician Assistant In Education. Each month, his podcast revolves around a blueprint topic for the PA National Certification Exam. Each podcast is evidence based with links available online for any work cited and listeners have the ability to download article sources. “All my podcasts are evidenced based and I provide references to all my posts to make it an academic experience.”

Maday received his start as an educator shortly after graduating from the University of Alabama at Birmingham where he was immediately hired at the UAB local teaching hospital. He worked with students who were essentially his classmates and grew to really enjoy teaching. In 2017, he was recruited to join UTHSC.

“I really enjoy seeing the progression of the students,” Maday said. “Seeing them go through not knowing much and then seeing them at graduation day having really progressed through and grown, and ready to start taking care of patients. I really found that I can have a bigger impact, training and teaching 30 students every single year.”

He has used his passion for teaching to start another podcast with colleagues across the country. Along with Maday, Airwaves and Educators, is hosted by Janelle Bludorn, PA-C, clinical assistant professor in Physician Assistant Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Adrian Banning, assistant professor and research coordinator at Drexel University’s Physician Assistant program, and Shaun Lynch, assistant professor and academic coordinator at Elon University’s Physician Assistant program.

Airwaves and Educators is collaborative project focused on helping new educators transition from clinical practice into education. Maday hosts the show with Janelle Bludorn, Adrian Banning, and Shaun Lynch. (Photos courtesy of Kristopher Maday)

The group met through social media, frequently joining the same discussions around #pamed and #meded.

The collaborative project is focused on helping new educators transition from clinical practice into education. “We all think that just because you can do your job as a provider, you then can come in and teach that to people looking to get into your profession. Historically that is how it happened. But that doesn’t necessarily make you a good educator and that’s an entire other skillset,” he said.

“The podcast has really forced me out of my comfort zone by exposing some vulnerabilities with the intention of inspiring and helping other educators,” Lynch said. “Furthermore, the podcast allows us to use another medium to share information and impact others on a larger scale that are utilizing novel platforms to learn and grow as an educator.”

Maday said the group was fortunate to have mentors during their transitions to navigate their paths into academia, but that others are not as lucky. “Not everyone is as lucky as we were to have those individuals to take us under their wings, and be able to groom us in a sense. What better way to give back to the profession than doing a monthly podcast,” Maday said.

Although hosted by PA educators, Airwaves and Educators, which launched in January, covers topics for a broad audience including best practices for team building, rules of navigating academia, and challenges and complexities in the modern classroom. “It is crazy how our conversations are shared across the country – even across the world – and that such a diverse audience may be listening and learning,” said Bludorn. Maday said the group enjoys the creative freedom and control over the topics and timeline for the podcast.

“That is really what it comes down to for us,” Maday said. “It’s something we have control over and something we can disseminate that gets to be our message and our voice. To make our mark on PA education and hopefully we can make educators out there better at what they are doing.”