When Dr. Sarita Khemani ran the Stanford Medicine Clinical Summer Internship program for high school and pre-med students five years ago, she realized many of them had questions about what medical school and a career in medicine were like. That inspired her to launch a podcast, “Journey to Medicine.”
“This was quite informational for these students,” said Khemani, Stanford University clinical associate professor, Stanford Medical Center hospitalist and an internist who sees patients admitted to the hospital. “By doing a podcast, it was possible to reach many more students who would want to know more about it, because in the summer program there’s only a limited number of people.”
Khemani launched the podcast in March 2019. In each of the 17 episodes, ranging from 16-45 minutes long, she interviews medical students, residents and physicians about their experiences on the path to becoming doctors. They discuss their lives before getting involved in medicine, such as where they grew up and what they were interested in in high school. The guests then share what the process was like for them to apply to medical school, opportunities that were helpful to them, what they’d do differently and what they do now in their day-to-day careers.
Many of Khemani’s guests on her podcast are work colleagues. She said it’s been interesting to learn more about their lives before they became full-time medical providers. She added that it’s never been a challenge to find guests to join her on “Journey to Medicine.”
“Everyone’s really eager so that they can share their story with other students and hope that they can help somebody understand more about the process, or clear their doubts about the
process and just learn more about medicine,” she said.
Her favorite episode was an interview with Mario Moreno, a radiology resident. She said Moreno’s family members were undocumented immigrants from Mexico, and poor grades in college hampered his hopes of getting into medical school . He worked as a nighttime interpreter at a hospital and studied for the MCAT in between interpreting for patients.
“That was a pretty enlightening interview, because even though it was pretty difficult, the process that he went through, the achievement was just really memorable,” Khemani said.
Podcast as pep talk
Khemani noted that the biggest challenge is finding time between her patient care and education responsibilities to produce the podcast. But when she does have time to record an episode, she said she always forgets she’s making a podcast because she gets wrapped up in the conversation.
Khemani hopes her podcast helps teach students about the various fields in medicine and eases their fears about applying to medical school or pursuing a career afterward.
“I’m hoping these podcast interviews provide them with that motivation and that information that will help them and encourage them to apply,” she said. “And also feel confident that, ‘OK, I think I can do this and I can be part of this field.’”
She said the next step for “Journey to Medicine” will be to expand it to all the specialties in health care. Khemani added that many of her podcasts have focused on how people became doctors, but there are other areas – like social work – that are essential aspects of health care.
“It has to be the whole team that has to come together to take care of patients,” said Khemani, explaining why it’s important for students to know about other options besides medical school. “There are a lot of other ways to take care of patients.”