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The RCPI has launched a new podcast, The Expert View. Ms Siobhan Creaton, Head of Public Affairs and Advocacy at the RCPI, explains how the time was right for this new endeavour
Apodcast was something we had been considering and planning for quite some time,” according to Ms Siobhan Creaton, Head of Public Affairs and Advocacy at the RCPI.
Ms Creaton is the producer, presenter and driving force behind the College’s new podcast, The Expert View, which was launched back in May.
“We had a clear vision for what we wanted to achieve, which was to connect the medical community of RCPI both with their peers and with the public.”
With the arrival of Covid-19, Ms Creaton says the time seemed to be right to launch this project.
“It became clear that there was a real need for the public to be provided with information that was reliable and trustworthy. We’ve all heard about the Covid-19 ‘infodemic’, WhatsApp messages circulating during the pandemic purporting to be from doctors, and information that has been widely shared that has no reliable sources and indeed is just false. This is why I felt it was the perfect time to launch The Expert View. Listeners have direct access to the advice and insight of our trusted, experienced doctors who can relay accurate, up-to-date information.”
Ms Creaton, an author and former journalist with The Irish Times, is well used to the interview process and says that doctors, far from being reticent to step-up to the mic, have instead been more than enthusiastic about the project.
“The response from doctors has been phenomenal, every person I have approached has been very keen to get involved,” she says.
“Because this is a new platform for RCPI, and because in Ireland we don’t yet have a podcast like this, focused solely on amplifying medical voices, I think there’s a real passion from the doctors to connect with the public and to share their knowledge and experiences.
“Because we’re in control of the content and the narrative, we can use the podcast to highlight issues that may otherwise get missed by the press as part of the daily news cycle. We’re setting the agenda, and the doctors are as involved in this side of the podcast as I am.”
She continues: “Our doctors work with patients every day, they know what their patients are curious, confused or worried about, they know what kinds of questions people might have. For example, in the episode with Dr Cliona Murphy, Chair of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, we talked about the resumption of appointments for women and how appointments are actually still taking place. We talked about screening programmes and how during the pandemic, patients shouldn’t delay seeing a doctor if they have symptoms.
“Because our doctors are there on the frontline, they can report back on these questions and concerns and ensure that the right message is getting out there to patients.”
In connecting with their peers, Ms Creaton says: “Doctors know what topics and issues interest doctors across other specialties, they know what information might not be available, and know that through sharing their knowledge or by advocating for something within their field, they are helping to further important conversations and forge meaningful connections across their peer group.”
President of RCPI Prof Mary Horgan was the first person to be interviewed for The Expert View, where she answered questions that had been posed by the staff working in the College.
“When Siobhan approached me about recording the podcast, it was something that I thought was a brilliant idea,” Prof Horgan says.
“Advocacy and public outreach are key elements of the College’s mission and being able to answer the queries of staff within the College, queries many people had at that time, was beneficial not only to those staff members, but also the wider public. It’s been a confusing time, with a lot of misinformation out there, so being able to cut through that noise with something like this is vital, and not just in the time of a pandemic.”
Dr Terry McWade, CEO of RCPI, says he is very proud of the podcast.
“I think that RCPI’s spirit of innovation really has come to the fore at this time,” he says.
“The staff of the College has come together to find new and exciting ways to share information. Similar to our Covid-19 clinical update webinars for physicians, Siobhan worked hard to get this series up and running, utilising new technology to speak with doctors from across Ireland.”
He continues: “It’s a huge achievement to get something of this calibre off the ground all while working, recording and editing remotely. Siobhan’s and the doctors’ passion for the podcast is clear to hear in the finished product.”
While Covid-19 has featured in the majority of podcasts so far, Ms Creaton is keen to stress that this project isn’t focused solely on the pandemic.
“Covid-19 has impacted every corner of healthcare, so it makes sense that, in reflecting the biggest concerns of patients right now, and the experience of doctors, this remains a large element of the podcast at present.”
However, as evidenced by the episode featuring Dr Ann-Marie Hayes, The Expert View intends to cover all areas of healthcare that we feel are important.”
The episode Ms Creaton references features Dr Hayes, a paediatric specialist registrar currently working in neonatology in the University Maternity Hospital, Limerick. This episode was recorded prior to the formation of Government, with Dr Hayes passionately urging politicians not to forget the most vulnerable children in society.
“Dr Hayes is a great example of how we want to use this podcast,” Ms Creaton says.
“She approached us about calling on the newly-formed Government to ensure that they have considered and included vulnerable children in their roadmap for the future.
“Similarly, I spoke to Dr Rachel MacCann and Dr Aoife Kirk from Irish Doctors for the Environment, who are both passionate about the intersection between patient health and the health of the planet. It is clear when listening to them that they feel truly passionate about these issues. There is something very affecting about hearing a doctor’s voice, and the emotion in it, when they are advocating on behalf of their patients.”
Ms Creaton adds: “Advocacy is a huge part of the work of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, and this podcast adds another string to our bow that we can utilise when advocating on behalf of patients, doctors and the health of the nation. Giving voice to our doctors, and bringing it to the public can, I feel, really help to hammer home how important these issues are to those working within healthcare.”
On plans for the future, she says: “We want to grow this podcast and we want to include diverse voices from all areas of healthcare, speaking about the topics that our doctors feel most strongly about. Our last episode interviewed Dr Paddy Barrett and covered the topic of innovations in digital medicine.
“I am open to doctors getting in touch if there are topics like these they feel equally passionate about and would like to delve into. We want to provoke thought, discussion, debate and action, and ensure that our doctors are heard.”
This article was produced by the RCPI. You can find the RCPI’s new podcast, The Expert View, on Spotify, SoundCloud, iTunes and Stitcher, with updates on new episodes published weekly on RCPI’s Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. If you are interested in contributing to the podcast series or have an idea for a topic to be covered, please email Ms Siobhan Creaton at firstname.lastname@example.org.