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Photo courtesy of Ryan O'keefe

To showcase innovation in the health care industry, second-year Penn Medicine graduate student Ryan O’Keefe created the Penn HealthX podcast.

The podcast is part of the Penn HealthX program, a student-led initiative focused on exposing medical students to innovation in the health care field.

The podcast’s first episode aired on Feb. 21 of this year, and 15 episodes have been released so far. The inspiration for the podcast came from the events O’Keefe organized as curriculum vice president of the Penn HealthX program. These events highlighted the efforts of medical students and professionals who use their medical knowledge to shape the health care industry.

O’Keefe said that he thought other people would be interested in the content of these events as well.

“It was really a shame that all of these awesome conversations were happening just within the walls of Penn,” O’Keefe said. 

O’Keefe said he wanted to explore the question: “How do you become an industry leader?” Though his content is created with medical students in mind, O’Keefe said he wants his podcast to be “accessible to anyone.”

The first episode featured Penn Medicine professor David Fajgenbaum, who discussed his struggles with Castleman's disease and how he created the Castleman Disease Collaborative Network. Fajgenbaum also gave advice on how to become a physician-leader. 

The podcast is structured in the same way that Penn HealthX seminars are. Guests introduce themselves before discussing the topics of interest. O’Keefe said that he structured the podcast as an interview instead of a narrative because of the time constraints involved with editing. Each episode of the podcast takes around three hours to edit, while a narrative-based podcast could take up to 30 hours.

O’Keefe began the podcast with no knowledge of how to create one. 

“It came down to googling ‘how do you start a podcast,’” he said. O’Keefe researched what equipment and software he needed, and created the Penn HealthX podcast from scratch. 

Though he founded the podcast alone, O’Keefe brought his fellow Penn HealthX Curriculum Vice President and first-year Penn Medicine graduate student Logan Brock on board as a co-host.

“It’s pretty amazing seeing the things that they’re doing outside of clinical medicine to really redefine how the health system works,” Brock said. 

Starting in 2018, both O’Keefe and Brock will begin their clinical curricula, and incoming Penn HealthX Curriculum vice presidents, Penn Medicine students Elana Meere and Raymond Liu, will take over production.

Meere said that while she and Liu plan on mostly maintaining the production's structure, they are also planning on introducing new ideas to the podcast. In particular, they are interested in creating several episodes with more of a “documentary” structure, Meere said. Though this new leadership will come with some changes, their goal remains the same.

“We will continue meeting with as many individuals as possible who have interesting takes on the intersection between health and technology, or who have interesting experiences to speak to.”

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