To the Editor:
Podcasts have become increasingly popular tools for medical education in recent years. Podcasts are readily accessible to medical staff via computers or smartphones, which provide a convenient and useful way to engage learners in an easily consumed format and democratize knowledge from various resources.1,2 Moreover, the information conveyed by podcasts does not need to be linked with any particular time or location. In the context of anesthesiology, it has been reported that half of the anesthesia residents included in a study used different podcasts as part of routine studying.3 Many professional magazines have their own podcasts; however, these podcasts are mostly in English, and thus, they are usually difficult for medical staff in non–English-speaking countries to understand.
In non–English-speaking countries, medical English is an indispensable tool for medical staff to acquire new knowledge, publish articles, and participate in international exchanges. Therefore, it is necessary to learn some medical English at the residency stage, which is important for the growth and career development of medical students. However, in our education system, after medical students leave school for clinical practice training, they seldom enroll in medical English courses, and few of them have the habit of actively learning medical English. In addition, the main form of medical English teaching in China involves reading medical English books. With these books, students can improve their medical vocabulary, acquire professional knowledge, and improve their reading ability. However, there are few available professional English listening and speaking training courses. On the other hand, medical English books may not provide the latest research trends and knowledge updates of the specialty.
Fortunately, each issue of Anesthesiology has a podcast of the important articles of our specialty selected by editors. The research background, design, main purpose, results, and final conclusions of each important clinical, laboratory research, or focus review article are introduced in a professional way in these podcasts. The contents of these podcasts are very helpful in following the latest research trends and knowledge updates in the field of anesthesiology. Therefore, we selected these podcasts of Anesthesiology in English as our teaching materials for anesthesiology residents to help them learn medical English and pay attention to new knowledge updates and research trends in our specialty and to inspire clinical and basic research ideas.
We have already implemented this study program for more than 1 yr, and we learned the contents of the podcasts collectively. The following steps were implemented:
Podcasts with transcripts of each issue were downloaded from the website of Anesthesiology. We first listened to these podcasts together, and then allowed residents repeat the contents or perform translations, followed by correction of the podcast transcript. Finally, we discussed research ideas from each study.
After a period of learning, the teachers conducted assessments, collected feedback of the learning, and made necessary adjustments according to the feedback.
Through a long-term study, the residents of our specialty listen to podcasts as a regular habit to learn medical English, and the residents may generate research ideas and carry out clinical and basic research work in the future.
The residents of our specialty have shown great improvements both in terms of their medical English level and scientific research ideas (as shown by increased medical English vocabulary, improved translation ability and listening level, and having some preliminary research plans), and most of them have formed the habit of listening to podcasts from Anesthesiology regularly. We sincerely thank Anesthesiology for providing excellent podcasts for medical staff in non–English-speaking countries. Using these podcasts, our residents not only learn medical English but also pay attention to new knowledge updates and research trends in our specialty. Last, we emphasize and support spreading the podcast-based learning as a routine medical English teaching program for medical residents of non–English-speaking countries.
The authors declare no competing interests.