It’s not often that you might think about robot doctors, legalizing magic mushroom testing for physicians or a one-time $2-million drug for spinal motor atrophy.
But two UBC School of Kinesiology alumni, Josh Britton and Preet Gandhi, are tackling these topics head on in their recently launched podcast, Sicker Than Your Average Health Show.
Through the podcast, Britton, a current fourth-year medical student at the University of Saskatchewan, and Gandhi, a recent graduate from McMaster University’s master’s program in global health, aim to cover current health headlines in a way that is entertaining to the public and encourages listeners to take a critical approach to the health headlines they encounter.
“We felt that a lot of what we could do was to provide a bit of a different lens, while entertaining on what we think are important topics that probably deserved some bigger conversations,” said Britton.
“... We’re trying to get people thinking and engaging with health in a more active fashion as opposed to just passively scrolling or reading a short headline, because there was a lot more behind all of the subjects that we brought up.”
In planning their podcasts, Britton and Gandhi said they look for current health headlines in the news to find topics they think the public will be interested in.
“It’s about trying to find recent headlines that have some engagement factor for somebody who’s not in the health field and [isn’t] too technical, and [a topic] that we can boil down so that people can really relate to [it],” said Gandhi.
To conduct their research, the pair dives into scientific journals and other more approachable sources, including TED Talks and YouTube videos. Links to the sources they draw information and ideas from are included in each episode’s description for listeners to refer to if they are interested.
Britton and Gandhi currently have future episodes in the works. Upcoming topics include exploring TikTok as a platform for sharing health news and information with Dr. Anna Blakney, an assistant professor in UBC’s School of Biomedical Engineering and a verified TikTok creator, and an interview with a Vancouver-based orthopedic surgeon whose company seeks to use virtual reality technology to train future surgeons.
According to the two hosts, the feedback they have received so far has been largely positive. People have shared stories of being inspired by the episodes to spark interesting conversations with those around them. Their listeners have also commented that they had never thought of the topics in the way they were discussed in the podcast.
Despite the challenges of working together from different cities — Gandhi is located in Vancouver and Britton in Regina — the duo has no plans to slow down. They hope their discussions of current health headlines will continue to foster discussion around these topics.
“I think during COVID, people have become really interested in public health and in medicine, how decisions are made,” said Gandhi.
When asked what they hoped their listeners got out of listening to their podcast, Gandhi said, “we want there to be an educational factor. We want people to feel like they’re learning, and learning to think about things in a different way than they did beforehand.”
Britton added, “whatever things that are important to you after hearing about these topics, we want to help bring those to light for yourself so that you can … engage with the parts about health, health news and your own health in the ways that are important to you as an individual.”