“How to Become the Center of Influence Through Continuing Education Podcasting” with Cheryl S. Turner of the Rad-Cast Podcast
As part of my series of interviews about “How to Become the Center of Influence Through Podcasting”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Cheryl S. Turner. She has been in healthcare for 30 years and a college professor for 15 of those years. She founded and developed Rad-Cast, the CE Podcast for Radiation Sciences Professionals. The goal of Rad-Cast is to provide her colleagues, physicians, nurses, and patients with robust, relevant, real-life information; all while offering the added opportunity for required continuing education credits. Rad-Cast quickly developed into a platform that serves to educate people on technical and clinical topics, plus teaching about things like effective leadership and workplace culture assessment.
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Can you tell us the “backstory” about why or how you got started as a podcaster?
Having been a healthcare provider and a college professor for many years, I can attest to the importance of continued learning and professional development as foundations for effective clinical practice. The practice of completing required CE credits spans the numerous professions of medicine, including the radiation sciences. Radiation sciences are all of those things like x-ray, radiation therapy [that’s what I do], nuclear medicine, sonography, mammography, MRI, and CT. Traditionally, continued education [or CE] credits were obtained through simply reading an article in a journal and taking an associated quiz.
If you were lucky, your employer would provide funds for you to attend a conference which had various speakers and many topics. Not all professionals are so lucky and resorted to the lengthy and, sometimes irrelevant, articles that are published by professional societies and education providers. Oftentimes, the articles were outdated due to the publication process or they were not actually pertinent to what the practitioners were doing in their jobs. There was a gap, a big gap, in completing continuing education credits and learning new or updated material. In a recent social media post in a professional group, a member asked for recommendations on “something that will actually teach me.”
Back to that statement about renewed education and training being foundational to clinical practice, this is where the rubber meets the road. Healthcare providers work in crazy busy, highly technical, and very stressful situations; healthcare practices move and change fast. Without constant and adequate training, providers are left to figure things out on their own or resort to doing things the ways they’ve always been done. A lack of attention to detail, for whatever reason be that lack of training or stressful workplace conditions, has the potential to adversely affect patient safety. Healthcare providers need to learn innovative and relevant things in a manner that does not add to their already hectic schedules. I mean, you can learn in a casual, convenient way like during your commute to work, walking your dog, running on the treadmill or running errands, or [one that I go to] listen while you do the laundry.
So, I am a podcast fanatic [true crime, religion, sports, history] and was listening to something, anything, on a flight to New York. My ‘aha’ moment came when I landed and made the correlation between my professional commitments and my personal choices. During that flight, I thought, I could have listened to an educational piece, learned something new, and completed some of my professional CE credit requirements. I set out to teach myself ‘all things podcast’ by reading and listening to as many different styles as I could. This proved to be a positive and a negative; while I learned a lot about podcasting, I also learned that I can’t do all of those things the same way.
Rad-Cast has changed quite a bit since its inception, but the foundational core of real-life education and support has remained at the forefront of what I do. Disruption with the intent of real impact has become a motivating driver of Rad-Cast. The ‘disruption’ has been simple … be relevant and embrace the technologies and learning mechanisms that are currently most utilized and convenient and effective.
Can you share a story about the most interesting thing that has happened to you since you started podcasting?
Well, actually, this opportunity is pretty cool! Probably, speaking purely professionally, getting to interview some of the giants in our field has been a little awe-inspiring. And, to know that people are so gracious with their time and their expertise. Doctors, executives, and administrators have been so kind and willing to teach through this format. Really, just seeing that support that I talked about … seeing people reach out to help each other and strive for a greater good. This shows, that despite all of the stressors in our work, healthcare folks are really about helping others whether that is helping patients or doing something good for their fellow professionals.
On a fun professional level, a guest told me that being on a podcast was on their bucket list! And, I thought, I get to do this every day! Personally, the travel that has resulted from exposure of the podcast has been pretty exciting! I am really interested in taking the show on the road, nationally and internationally, so that I can get a good scope of how things are done and taught all over the world.
This learning platform is catching on. I have been approached by some very big companies saying that they always thought about doing podcasts, either for marketing or for education, and just never took the time to do it. With the Rad-Cast platform already established I have been able to help these companies work through their needs and create custom projects for them. I am working on a patient informational library to be added to one company’s website, which will be completely branded by them. I am doing the podcast creation and production.
Building a training series that will be used nationally across modalities is also something I am involved in. Once again, I am doing the development, while the training certificate will be branded by the people who partnered with me. One of the most interesting things about this, is really just hearing people talk about the show and watching the movement that has been created. Someone will listen to a podcast episode and then have a great idea about a topic or a guest that I should invite for an interview and then they, graciously, make the connection for me. The engagement and giving spirit are the impacts and are the interesting fulfillment in all of this.
Can you share a story about the biggest or funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Oh boy! Back to that statement of ‘I can’t do things the same way as other folks’! At first, I attempted to copy some of the big-name, awesomely-produced, viral podcasts; you know the kind with full staffs of researchers and editors and stuff. I worked myself crazy and still thought the end result kinda sucked. My greatest thanks to those early guests who helped me through my struggles. Sometimes I feel like I owe some of them a do-over.
As I was rounding out the first year, I realized that there was a better way; the second season shows are much less scripted and formal. I got rid of the standard recorded intro and just kinda eased into a conversational interview with my guests. I can talk to almost anyone and carry on a conversation about pretty much anything with anybody. All of the episodes are still educational and informational, but on a more casual level now. It really is a phenomenal way to think about structured education … that you can actually learn important things by entering into a meaningful conversation. Be intentional and purposeful without lots of filler and misguided rules. Just talk to people; there are some very, very smart people out there.
What lesson did I learn? Most importantly, do not try to be exactly like anyone else. Do not make things more difficult than they need to be. It sounds cliché but enjoy the process. Not every show is going to go off without a hitch or be 100% perfect in the end … What did you learn? Who did you serve? Who did you get to meet? You have your own personality and goals and ideas. Take pieces of other ideas and styles, but make the whole your very own.
Your podcast does not have to be hard or formal or scripted. It does have to meet the needs of your listeners and it has to portray you as someone who cares enough to spread whatever message you have. Be good to yourself and be good to your listeners. You both deserve to have your goals met and to be informed and educated. And you both should have the expectation of experiencing something new.
For the entrepreneurial lesson, it is about going all in and sacrificing your time, your sanity sometimes, and your thoughts about ‘the way things should be done’. Challenge the system; challenge the norm. Work hard at what you create. You can only do this if you believe in yourself and in something enough to take the risk. You have to be excited and passionate about your goals; that is why I do this.
Also, do not be afraid to grow! When I was first approached by a professional entity that was not healthcare asking me to do a custom series for them through the Rad-Cast platform, I thought ‘can I really do this?’ Absolutely I could! I was already comfortable in my space; I made sure I studied and researched enough about their business that I could put together a quality, educational piece for them. The end result was actually pretty exciting! The company and I got lots of kudos on how the episodes turned out. Now, I am confident in my abilities to create content for various industries and to work with their professionals to get their message delivered. I have found that consistency is the key. I am the same person whether I am interviewing the CEO or the consultant or the physician.
How long have you been podcasting and how many shows have you aired?
Rad-Cast has been around for a little over a year and I have about two dozen shows out. Because the podcast provides continuing education credit for those listeners that want or need it, the process from interview to release is constrained a bit by other entities that I depend upon. I have moved to a more aggressive schedule since we entered into the second season; I are releasing shows once a week now. Honestly, I have had such gracious and giving guests that I have to hustle to keep up with them! Here’s the thing, obviously I keep count but the number is not near as important as the connection, engagement, and impact. I track these things through analytics and through well-designed follow-ups.
What are the main takeaways or lessons you want your listeners to walk away with?
I want my listeners to know that I absolutely know how busy they are, so I am grateful to them for being a part of the show. Healthcare, and life, are kinda crazy right now and getting crazier. I wanted to put out a show that met many different needs, all in one place. Hear something new, learn something unique, get real relevant information, and know that we can talk about the hard stuff. I believe very much that we should promote a culture of support, whether that is educational or building and growing better relationships. I want listeners to know that they can reach out to me or the show or, probably, many of the guests.
Rad-Cast’s mission is one of support, in many of the ways that healthcare providers need desperately. Also, some of the lessons learned … those about professionalism and ethics and workplace culture … are applicable to lots of other disciplines and professions. So, a business or marketing or finance professional may not relate to all of the episodes, but the foundations of communication are the same. Or, maybe they or a family member are facing a medical issue; other industry professionals could definitely take some of the information for their own personal understanding.
Check out the full interview in Tracy Hazzard’s Authority Magazine article about Cheryl S. Turner!
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1) Book Great Guests. Great people have reached out to me! I have made some pretty phenomenal connections on social media and through my other professional networks. It really has worked in a way that if I have a topic which I want to talk about, someone knows someone who knows about it. I believe this is one of the very many reasons to maintain your own professional reputation. I think people genuinely like to help out and if you have other folks speaking on your behalf, it is easy to grow the list of guests.
2) Increase Listeners. I use social media quite a bit, but I have also sent personalized emails to professional societies in all 50 states letting them know that I have this new opportunity for their members. I am also involved and engaged in national professional societies where I have met numerous people. It is about putting yourself, and your podcast, out there. Finding out what my show is about usually excites people!
3) Produce in a Professional Way. I tried to learn all that I could about podcasting before I began; that is an impossible task. I have learned so much more by just being in the middle of it all. There are some things about the production that do not appeal to me or I know can be done much better by someone in that field. It is worth the money to me to have an editor for all of my shows. I have used a professional videographer for marketing materials. Once again, I go back to working directly with people. Both of these experts are entrepreneurs in their own fields. They have been very kind to help me, offer assistance and advice, and work within my budget to make sure we have a well-produced podcast.
4) Encourage Engagement. I try to interact with as many people as I can on social media. Whether at a speaking engagement or a professional meeting, I also spend time talking to colleagues and listeners. I have done some ‘pop-up’ shows during some of these meetings; people love to be a part of the action and a microphone always has action!
5) Monetize. Because my podcast provides continuing education credits, listeners must pass a short quiz about the episode. Then, we give them a certificate of credit. Credentialing bodies establishes this process. There is a charge to take the quizzes; the podcast information is always free. Right now, we offer free quizzes as a way to introduce this new and ground-breaking method to so many people. I do not take money for particular shows from sponsors, even though vendors have done some of the interviews for me.
I believe that the content should be unbiased and educational; vendors really appreciate the opportunity to speak about techniques and programs in a way that reaches their target audience. Rad-Cast is a platform for the other things that I do. This includes presentations and speaking engagements, custom podcast libraries that are not part of Rad-Cast which have been created specifically for commercial partners, and live educational webinars. These things are monetized and will continue to grow as Rad-Cast grows.
What makes your podcast binge-listenable? What do you think makes your podcast unique from the others in your category? What do you think is special about you as a host, your guests, or the content itself?
Check out the full interview in Tracy Hazzard’s Authority Magazine article about Cheryl S. Turner!