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Big changes are coming to Portable Practical Pediatrics that I know you don’t want to miss.
It was 11 years ago when my nephew Seth , the rocketman barrister, convinced me to start Portable Practical Pediatrics. Podcasting was in its infancy then and I was hesitant to take on the challenge. Today, I look back at the experiences I have had making this podcast as some of the most meaningful of my life. Let me explain. A busy practicing pediatrician is involved in direct patient care almost every minute of every working day. There is no down time. A busy pediatrician has very little time in the day for researching interesting questions his patients pose or looking up information about a particular disorder or diagnosis. I found this fact very distressing throughout my pediatric career. Additionally, there never seemed enough time to adequately address important topics with families because of the time restraints of a pediatric visit.
But with the urging of my children, wife, and Seth, I thought, “maybe I could improve communication with my patients by researching and prerecording information that I knew they wanted to know about. With 25 years of pediatrics under my belt at that point, I was confident I knew what parents knew and what they didn’t know. Hence the birth of the “pedcast”, short entertaining conversations about practical pediatric topics that had been researched and double checked by an editor. I distributed these podcasts via free mp3s that a family could easily download and listen to on the fly. My conversation with a family, with all its limitation, had been freed from the boundaries of the office. I felt confident in the 577 posts, made over the past 11 years, were imparting accurate and well researched information. Now,Mom, grandma, Dad, or even a nanny could weigh in and benefit from the conversation. If the pedcast needed follow-up we could pick up that conversation at the next office meeting. I thought it was brilliant and the reason I agreed to devote 2-3 hours each evening to produce a weekly podcast for 11 years that entailed writing, editing, recording, and disturbing my content.
As I think back on my experience of making a podcast, I realize that the biggest beneficiary of this experience, has been me. I know that sounds strange, but the weekly deadline to produce a new pedcast forced me to learn a tremendous amount about pediatrics and become confident I had a grasp on each subject that I took on. It also freed me to explore those questions that popped up all day from my daily practice. Somehow, when my name and reputation was put out in such a public way, I found the energy to research those topics I had left hanging for so many years. How could I not? Suddenly I had 25,000-50,000 visits per month and hundreds of thousands of downloads. I was even chosen by Feedspot.com as one of the top 10 pediatric podcasts in the world! All done from the comfort of my home, on my terms.
But things changed in 2017 after my retirement from practicing pediatrics for 35 years. Without the intellectual stimulation from my patients and the daily conversations about child health that I enjoyed with families, writing the pedcasts began to seem empty- without purpose. But as it turns out, fate had bigger things in store for Portable Practical Pediatrics. Just as I was about to fold up the operation, my friend and fellow N.C. pediatrician, Dr. Chris Magryta, the sage of Salisbury, contacted me and asked If I could help him start a podcast. Chris, I said, “Not only can I help you, but I will give you the Portable Practical Pediatrics setup and you can start with a great audience and all the internet details buttoned down.” Dr. M, as his patients call him, is an excellent clinician and teacher. His knowledge of medicine is second to none and I think he will be able to make Portable Practical Pediatrics an even bigger success than it has been in the past. I will still remain as part of the staff and I intend to make some cameo posts once in a while, but Dr. M will be taking over the reins as of May 2021. His first podcast will be, interviewing me! I think you will enjoy that conversation.
Finally, I want to take this opportunity to thank my wife, daughter, son, and nephew, who encouraged and helped me get this podcast off the ground but also to the literally millions of people it has touched. I am honored and humbled by everyone’s trust. I did my best to live up to it. So, for one of the last times, this is Dr. Paul Smolen, you know, Doc Smo, recording from studio 1E- that’s my first child’s bedroom on the east side of my house, hoping that all the children in your nest, will live a life full of nothing but the best. Until next time.