Podcast Provides Inside Look Into Hofstra’s Med School

Dr. Lawrence Smith

In the digital age we’re living in, long car rides and monotonous airplane trips have become more bearable through listening to podcasts. From cooking to sports to the downright bizarre, there’s a podcast for just about every topic imaginable. Last fall, Hofstra University’s medical school introduced a podcast of their own, a series their production company said is unlike anything else across the nation.

On par with an effort to increase nationwide medical school enrollment, Hofstra and then-North Shore-LIJ entered into an agreement in 2008 that established the first new medical school in the New York metropolitan area in more than 35 years.

Now, Dr. Lawrence Smith, founding dean of the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, takes great pride in the curriculum he’s created for his students, calling it “nothing like anyone else’s curriculum in the country.”

To showcase the work going on inside and what it is truly like to be a medical school student, Smith approved something quite out of the ordinary. The school worked with Northwell to put together funds supporting the production of 10 podcast episodes. Year One: Making an MD follows the lives of four freshmen medical school students as they grapple with the rigor of an education preparing them to become doctors.

“In the spirit of modern methods of communication, someone proposed to us that we do a podcast following faculty and students around during medical school to let people talk about what actually transpires in medical school,” Smith explained of the series’ inception. “Especially for the students, those things that happen for the first time as they progress through the four years of medical school that people would be interested in hearing about.”

Smith said that while they were unsure of what kind of interest the public would have in such a podcast, they thought it would be fun to move forward with production “in the spirit of trying to communicate with more modern things that have not been tried by traditional organizations like medical schools.”

The episodes, which do not top 15 minutes, cover topics like how to professionally speak with a patient, working with cadavers, how students handle the stress of their curriculum and learning how to draw blood.

“[The crew spends] a certain amount of time both talking to the students and just kind of following around and getting the background noise and what’s happening and what they’re doing,” Smith said. “It’s really to give people on the outside kind of the inside glimpse of just exactly what happens to somebody when they go to medical school.”

A podcast fiend himself, Smith listens to shows while he drives. He said he enjoys how podcasts take a slower, more detailed approach to things, allowing him to become immersed in whatever that show is talking about.

Of the medical school podcasts, Smith said, “I get insights into how they react to things that we’re doing to them, so that’s kind of interesting. I know exactly what I think they’re going through, but it’s nice to hear and get surprised at some of their reactions. It’s been fun to listen to.”

Smith said if the series finds success and the public is interested, he would like to see the podcast continue in documenting how students handle the discoveries they make as they progress through the school.

“I think everybody is touched by medicine and by doctors at some point in their life. I think people are intrigued by that whole thing and they kind of want to know more about it,” he said. “If they’re intrigued by this, that’s a good thing.”

The first seven episodes of Year One: Making an MD are available for free download on iTunes.

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