Multimodal Learning in Emergency Medicine through Podcasts

Mar 6, 2018




What are the key time-sensitive treatments for life-threatening hyperkalemia? Leading experts have the answer on EM Cases, an educational podcast which covers “all that is” emergency medicine.

The founder and host of EM Cases, Dr. Anton Helman is an Emergency Physician at the North York General Hospital and Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto’s Department of Family and Community Medicine. He and his highly-driven team have been producing content and releasing episodes on a bi-weekly basis for the last eight years.

“There was only one medicine podcast at the time called EMRAP that I was aware of in 2009. I listened to EMRAP religiously and I loved the idea that I could learn while commuting or going for a run. That’s when I started EM Cases,” says Dr. Helman about the early origins of the podcast.

More than 100 guest experts have joined Dr. Helman in case-based discussions on best practices in emergency medicine. The platform has an incredible following with more than 6 million downloads since its launch in 2010. In the past year alone, it acquired 289,000 users and 779,000 page views. It is one of the most popular medical podcasts in its realm and the most listened to emergency podcast in Canada.

“Emergency medicine is very well suited for podcasts because the topic selection and breadth you can cover is endless. It can be about any patient with any medical problem. I think podcasts are well suited for medical specialities that are rapidly expanding.”

One of the most popular topics covered by EM Cases includes “Emergency Management of Hyperkalemia” which has been downloaded about 57,000 times. Another topic that is greatly discussed is “the ED use of IV iron as an alternative to blood transfusions for anemic patients” as it introduced a cutting-edge strategy previously unknown to the realm of emergency medicine.  

In earlier days, podcasts would be recorded and published on the EM Cases website with a written summary. The offerings have evolved and diversified since then. Now, emergency medicine experts and the public-at-large have access to the podcast for free.  

“EM Cases is a lot more than just podcasts now. We’ve got videos, quizzes, show notes, blogs and the annual EM Cases Course where participants get a chance to discuss cases and issues with the guest experts from the podcasts, in person. We sold out our 3rd annual EM Cases Course this past February.”

Although the initial response from students and staff were mixed, the idea that podcasts have educational value is generally accepted today. Dr. Helman stresses though, that to excel in emergency medicine, students need to actively read the standard textbooks, attend lectures and comply with any other traditional methods of education.

“I see podcasts, blogs and videos as an adjunct to traditional methods of learning,” he says. “The idea that spaced repetition multimodal learning of all these modalities, whether they are traditional or innovative, is what helps people retain knowledge.”

According to Dr. Helman, podcasts can be useful for any speciality of medicine that is rapidly expanding. The road to success will not be easy. 

“Part of being able to get any type of educational endeavour across to an audience is through consistently producing and persevering,” says Dr. Helman. “Also being engaged in the amazingly energetic FOAM community, having a presence on social media, collaborating with other organizations like TREKK – “Translating Emergency Knowledge for Kids”, and promoting at conferences. I’ve been very lucky to have financial and consulting support from The Schwartz-Reismann Emergency Medicine Institute (SREMI) a non-profit institute whose mission is to improve emergency medicine education and research in Canada. All of these contributing factors have led to our success.”

Dr. Helman will be introducing a new course called “Podcast CAMP; The Course About MedEd Podcasting” which will specifically focus on how to produce high-quality medical education podcasts. The course will be held in Toronto in October 2018.



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