Many Corner Stitch readers subscribe to Audible Bleeding, the vascular surgery podcast for updates on all things vascular—from vascular knowledge, to reviewing key Journal of Vascular Surgery (JVS) papers, to speaking on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts, and even looking at the history of vascular surgery, Audible Bleeding has been engaging the audience and providing much needed content. This month, we were lucky to pick the brains of founders Adam Johnson, MD, and Kevin Kniery, MD.
Johnson is a vascular surgery fellow at Cornell/ Columbia New York Presbyterian Hospital, and is current director of Audible Bleeding. Kniery is a vascular surgeon at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. Here’s what they had to say.
VS: Starting a podcast is very hard thing to do, especially during training. Can you give a brief history of how it all started?
KK: I remember all the way back to my fellowship interviews, Dr. Sharif Ellozy was very interested in my work with Behind The Knife [BTK]. Having a podcast on your CV wasn’t always viewed in high esteem so that really stuck out to me. I think given his experience and work in surgical education, he was drawn to it.
By chance, a friend of mine from medical school, Adam, was coming to the same fellowship, and we had talked about working on BTK for some vascular related episodes in the past. So, late in my first year of fellowship, it all came together with Adam about to move to New York, and my co-fellow, Matt Smith, was super excited about the idea. Dr. Ellozy was a perfect senior mentor having the knowledge, experience and connections, and, Nicole Rich, the other incoming fellow, also thought it would be a fun project to work on.
AJ: Yeah, that’s how I remembered it, too. As he mentioned, Kevin and I were medical school classmates at Tulane, and I had been a huge fan of his work with Behind the Knife. I approached him about whether I could get involved, and he suggested that there might be a role for a whole new podcast just for vascular surgery. During these conversations in early 2018, I applied for a vascular fellowship and matched at the New York-Presbyterian Columbia/Cornell program, so it turned out he would be my senior fellow!
Dr. Ellozy started approaching his network of surgeons, and we decided to publish our first interview with Dr. Frank Veith in the fall of 2018, right before the VEITHsymposium meeting. We got some initial excitement, and guests kept saying yes to coming to the podcast.
VS: That sounds fortuitous, really, and not too dissimilar from how some other famous brands got their start. But, as you know, brand names are important. How did you come up with the name Audible Bleeding?
KK: I remember texting back and forth names, I think one that may have come up was “Behind The Wire.” Dr. Matt Smith came up with Audible Bleeding, and it was an immediate hit given the double entendre.
VS: Bravo to Dr. Smith. That name makes perfect sense to the vascular surgeon and is intriguing enough to get non-vascular surgeons to want to figure out what the podcast is about. So now, what were some of the goals for the Audible Bleeding podcast when it first started, and have you met some of them?
AJ: Our initial goal was to highlight the stories of surgeons within vascular surgery to give trainees broader insight into the field. We then started creating free study resources to help trainees learn basic concepts within vascular surgery. Within our first year, we had name recognition with almost every trainee I met, and they all found it a valuable resource—so we had already met our initial goal by the end of our first year!
KK: We wanted to bring vascular surgery education to a podcast platform. We started with interviewing leaders in the field and learning from them, and then it slowly branched out to what it is today.
VS: Ok, so you guys definitely hit a nerve and tapped into a whole new generation of trainees who love podcasts. Today, Audible Bleeding is supported by the Society for Vascular Surgery. How did that partnership develop?
AJ & KK: This process was a bit more organic than we would have expected. Initially, we started out as an LLC with a small investment from each of our team members. We all agreed from the beginning that the intent of the investment was just to get the podcast off the ground, and we had no interest or expectation for a financial return on the investment. We then received some unexpected donations from listeners, and the podcast became listener-supported pretty much by our second year.
During COVID-19, however, we started to really increase our content and hold some webinars and help with a multi-institutional lecture series based on Wake Forest. We helped to host a few events for the SVS, and they were impressed with the work we were doing. Dr. Kim Hodgson, the president at the time, reached out to us to see if we wanted to be the official podcast for the SVS. They had thought about having a Society-affiliated podcast for a while and recognized we had a quality product in that space.
So instead of competing with us, they figured they would offer to support us. We were sufficiently listener-supported, so we didn’t need the funding, but we figured our team wouldn’t be running the podcast forever, and affiliating with the SVS would help us to recruit and maintain team members moving forward.
So, essentially we were already doing many collaborations with them, and they were trying to find new ways to connect with the younger generation, so it was a perfect fit. In addition, Dr. Ken Slaw, executive director of the SVS, was also very involved with our transition.
VS: I’m sure you’re not the only team that has thought of a vascular surgery-centric podcast. Are there others out there? And do you partner with them?
AJ: There are tons of great podcasts out there for vascular surgeons. Behind the Knife, of course, has great content for vascular surgeons and general surgeons. Backtable is a very high-quality podcast put out by a group of interventional radiologists that has a lot of content that vascular surgeons would find useful. Let’s Talk Surgery is put out by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and is one I have started listening to while I have been in the United Kingdom. The Retrograde Approach is a podcast out of Australia that has some great review episodes. And finally, Yale Vascular Review is put out by a couple of trainees from Yale that give short summaries of recently published articles grouped by clinical topic.
KK: To my knowledge there are a couple others. We have not done significant collaborations. Audible Bleeding has done multiple crossover episodes with Behind The Knife in attempts at educating and drawing general surgery trainees in to vascular.
VS: What advice would you give to current vascular surgery trainees for conceiving and maintaining a start-up during training or as faculty?
AJ: Hmm…good question: I think it all comes to value. What is the value that you are hoping to provide to your community, and what value is this endeavor providing to you? If you see start-ups and innovation and a get-rich-quick scheme, you might be successful, but you’ll likely get frustrated. If you find something that provides value to yourself and your community beyond financial reimbursement, then you’ll find yourself wanting to work on it, no matter the time of day, and you will find people around you supporting your work.
KK: I couldn’t agree more with AJ. But I also think it is all about finding the right team, which is impossible to know at first. A good place to start is finding a small core group that is passionate about the same vision or goal. You may have one idea and then you collaborate with others with differing view points and experiences and then the idea matures and becomes much bigger and better than you initially anticipated.
VS: Last question, I promise. Looking into the future, what do you hope Audible Bleeding will grow into?
AJ: One of our big pushes this year is to provide a more comprehensive online resource for exam preparation. We will be publishing a free e-book this fall to accompany our exam prep episodes.
We plan to re-publish our review episodes starting in November for a simple, free, and easily accessible study schedule to prepare for the U.S. in-training exams. Keep a look out for more details this fall!