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Conversations with Dr. Naftali Kaminski: Behind the Scenes of a New Medical Podcast

May 09, 2024

Naftali Kaminski, MD, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Professor of Medicine and chief of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine (Yale-PCCSM), recently partnered with the American Thoracic Society (ATS) to launch a new podcast.

In “From the Trenches,” part of the ATS’s Breathe Easy podcast series, Kaminski chats with pulmonary division chiefs across the United States about their journeys.

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind starting your podcast?

The idea sparked during the pandemic when division chiefs in pulmonary medicine were at the forefront of handling a new disease with no existing data. We organized weekly meetings to share updates and collaborate. This experience highlighted a gap in understanding the roles and journeys of division chiefs. The podcast, "From the Trenches" aims to fill this gap by discussing the paths to leadership and the personal stories behind the titles.

What makes your podcast unique?

Our format is structured yet personal. We start with an ice-breaker question about something unknown about guests, move into their journey to becoming a chief, and end each episode with a reflective question – what advice you would give to your younger self? This approach not only demystifies leadership roles but also adds a personal touch, revealing interesting facets like a chief who wanted to be a drummer or another who’s dealt with a severe fear of heights, as well as some career insights and advice.

Who is the target audience for your podcast?

Initially, we aimed at early-career professionals, but chiefs are also tuning in. The podcast is attracting a diverse range of listeners, especially among younger audiences who are more inclined to consume content through audio formats and social media platforms like Twitter.

What are your goals for each episode?

The primary goal is to demystify leadership in the medical field and show the non-linear paths to these roles. By sharing diverse stories of how chiefs reached their positions, we highlight that careers are never linear and straightforward, that even those who are among our most accomplished leaders overcame challenges, balance work and life, and depend on their families and partners as well as their peers to succeed. Overall, the aim is to encourage a sense of community and camaraderie among members of our disciplines as well as to demystify the role of a chief.

How do you feel about the impact of your podcast so far?

It's hard to say. Personally, I have a great time – the chiefs I interview are interesting, engaging, thoughtful, and simply great people – so I love it! Most feedback has been mainly through Twitter and personal interactions, suggesting a positive reception. As podcasts are timeless, the true impact might unfold over time as more people discover and listen to the episodes.

What are your plans for future episodes?

The format will stay similar, with slight improvements in the flow of conversation. We’re considering involving a third person in discussions – preferably someone early in their career or an intern – to add more perspectives. However, this is unclear – there are several episodes that are being edited now, so we may decide after they are aired.

Lastly, any closing thoughts?

I’m grateful for the opportunity to speak with the people who agreed to be guests on the podcasts – I enjoy the discussion and learn from them – to some extent, coming out of the pandemic, it is again a reminder of how much we miss each other’s voices. Finally, I have to say – it is impressive to see how diverse the chief community is now.

Not so long ago, very few chiefs were women, members of underrepresented minorities, LGBTQ+, or international medical graduates with an accent like me – but now the chiefs community is more diverse, which I believe is great for all, for our patients, for our trainees, for our faculty, and for our communities! I just hope that this continues.

The Section of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine is one of the eleven sections within Yale School of Medicine’s Department of Internal Medicine. To learn more about Yale-PCCSM, visit PCCSM's website, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Submitted by Julie Parry on May 08, 2024