The newest centenarians on the block: The MDTea podcast’s latest series includes their 100th episode

Dr Sophie Norman is the Technology-Enhanced Education Fellow working with the MDTea podcast team and within the Geriatric Medicine Department at Surrey and Sussex Healthcare Trust. The MDTea podcast is an educational podcast for all health care professionals working with older adults. @MDTea_podcast

The benefits of using podcasts as tools for learning and reflection in undergraduate and professional settings are now well documented1,2. Podcasts provide mobile, accessible content which can be supplementary and complementary to the more formal and established ways of learning that we have been used to, and more people are discovering these benefits all the time1, 3, 4.

Listening practices are, however, complex and often woven into very individualised daily and weekly routines3.

This time last year the nationwide lockdown drastically changed those lives and routines for many. A formerly hour-long commute filled by a favourite podcast might have become a 30-second walk downstairs to the kitchen table. By contrast, though, a lot of us also found ourselves with much more of what we might call ‘dead time’ on our hands.

The concept of ‘dead time’ – i.e. time that needs filling to stave off boredom, or time spent doing repetitive mindless tasks that can be enhanced and used more ‘productively’ – is well known to podcasters, and fundamental to the design and appeal of educational podcasts. Short episodes are the ideal way to provide learning in a way that fits around life3 whether that’s while driving, walking or doing chores.

So would we suddenly have many more ‘listens’ to our episodes?

It is perhaps more complicated than this, and, as Bell comments3, how we choose to fill this ‘dead time’ is rarely arbitrary. Listening habits are context-specific, and who’s to say that listeners would choose the MDTea over Bach’s cello suite in G major or AC:DC’s entire back catalogue as the soundtrack for their allotted hour of exercise? However, listening figures in April-June 2020 from the BBC Sounds platform did begin to give us some hope that the medium of listening was surviving and indeed flourishing in lockdown. They reported 313 million ‘plays’ of content in this time, and a record number of podcast ‘plays’5.

And we now have our own download figures from 2020 (and up to February 2021). Series 9 (running from early 2020, with a COVID-induced hiatus, and completed November/December 2020) shows our highest download figures of any series to date. Our 6th episode of the series ‘Music and Dementia’ had the highest initial download number for any episode ever (5,600). We also know, both anecdotally from social media and from cumulative download figures, that our repository of >80 previous episodes from our past 8 series continued to be listened to and engaged with in 2020 (with >200,000 downloads in total). Our most popular episode ever remains the one on Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment (CGA), with more than 10,000 downloads.

Series 10 has now begun, with the episodes released fortnightly. It contains a milestone for the MDTea team - our 100th episode! It looks to be one of our most varied yet and upcoming topics range from ‘The Ageing Athlete’ and ‘Older Prisoners’ Health’ to ‘Osteoarthritis’.

Our second episode back focuses on the issues of self-harm and suicide in older adults, welcoming the psychiatrist Cate Bailey (@_parapraxis_) back to the virtual recording studio. Cate is passionate about and knowledgeable on these topics and we discuss risk factors for self-harm and suicide in older adults, theories of suicide specific to older adults and how to address, assess and intervene.

In April, we will be joined by Jenifer Kaye, Phoebe Wright and Anita Parkin to look at population ageing and health. As well as explaining the fundamentals of population health and community engagement in older age groups, they’ll discuss their exciting new project in Merton and Wandsworth, delivering education and activity to those over 65 at individual, group and community levels. This episode will be followed by a supplementary audio feature of further conversation with Professor Sir Muir Gray, an enthusiastic and inspirational speaker and advocate for healthy and productive ageing, in which we discuss the recently published White Paper: Innovation and integration: working together to improve health and social care (2021).

Let the podcast help towards your CPD requirements:

At a time when accessing face-to-face CPD may be tricky, the MDTea podcast episodes provide a flexible alternative – and while our conversations are relaxed and informal, our information is up-to-date, evidence- and guidelines-based. As well as ‘show’ notes and infographics, a CPD log is available on our website following each episode. On completing the log specific to the topic you have listened to, you will receive a copy and confirmatory email for your own records.

Where to access the episodes:

To listen to the podcasts, search for the MDTea podcast on Spotify, Stitcher, Apple podcasts or wherever you usually get your podcasts. Alternatively, you can listen to the episodes directly via our website at which is also where you can find our ‘show’ notes, links to articles and papers discussed, as well as supplementary information and announcements. If you wish to know more about the faculty, how we put our episodes together and our ethos, see this previous BGS blog post MDTea Club and podcast: join the conversation.


1. Libby Rothwell. (2008). ‘Podcasts and collaborative learning’ in Salmon G and Edirisingha P’s (eds.) Podcasting for Learning in Universities. England: Open University Press. 121-131.

2. Boulos, M.N.K., Maramba, I, Wheeler, S. Wikis, blogs and podcasts: a new generation of Web-based tools for virtual collaborative clinical practice and education. BMC Med Educ 2006; 6: 41

3. David Bell. (2008). ‘The university in your pocket’ in Salmon G and Edirisingha P’s (eds.) Podcasting for Learning in Universities. England: Open University Press. 178-187.

4. Chin A, Helman A, Chan TM. Podcast Use in Undergraduate Medical Education. Cureus. 2017; 9(12): e1930.

5. BBC sounds records record listening during lockdown, digitalradioUK, viewed 22 March 2021 <


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