As a student in DMU’s osteopathic medical program, Logan Kolb, D.O.’16, recalls listening to EM Basic, a podcast about emergency medicine by Steve Carroll, D.O., an assistant professor at Emory University’s School of Medicine. That was one of the experiences that inspired Dr. Kolb in 2019 to create and host the Grenz Zone Dermatology Podcast by Pearl Podcasting LLC. A third-year dermatology resident at Orange Park Medical Center in Jacksonville, FL, he uses the podcast to break down skin anatomy, common skin rashes and lesions in a simple, fun and engaging fashion to build a strong foundation of dermatology knowledge for dermatology providers.
The podcast’s value in helping dermatology physicians and residents stay up to date and knowledgeable about their complex field has won it rave reviews. It also landed Kolb on the cover of The Dermatologist magazine and its accompanying article, titled “Multimedia’s Influence on Dermatology Education.”
“His experience with multimedia, like that of other medical students and residents, is helping expand what education can mean for the modern clinician,” stated managing editor Lauren Mateja in the cover story. “At the core of every episode…is the mission to emphasize pearls for listeners to recall when treating their next patient, just as Dr. Kolb did in his earlier residency days.”
Mateja was referring to an event in the first year of Dr. Kolb’s residency, when he encountered a patient with a condition called delusions of parasitosis, which causes people to believe their skin is crawling with insects. He had a flashback to a podcast episode by DermCast.TV, the official online media resource of the Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants (SDPA). In that episode, recorded live at a SDPA conference in 2014, John Koo, M.D., a dermatologist and director of the Psoriasis, Phototherapy and Skin Treatment Clinic at UCSF Health in San Francisco, shared advice for managing patients with psychodermatologic issues such as the one Dr. Kolb’s patient was suffering from.
The solution Dr. Koo advised was to prescribe the antipsychotic medicine pimozide. Dr. Kolb conferred with his residency program director, Karthik Krishnamurthy, D.O., FAOCD, who agreed to give that a try. It worked.
“Basically, thanks to that podcast episode, she was finally cured. Dr. Krishnamurthy, my co-residents and I who managed this for her are basically her heroes now,” Dr. Kolb said in The Dermatologist article. “To see how a podcast episode changed that patient’s life and have it become a reality for me was really just a cool moment.”
It was also another inspiration for the Grenz Zone Dermatology Podcast. The series features 20- to 30-minute episodes on topics including clinical dermatologic diagnosis based on morphologic reaction patterns and a plethora of dermatologic disorders, from diaper rash to psoriasis to acne to carcinoma. Each of its episodes includes interactive review questions as well as comic relief in the form of attendings Dr. Grumpy Pants, voiced by Dr. Kolb’s co-resident Shawn Schmieder, D.O., and Dr. Binky, voiced by Courtney Bernett, D.O.
In the podcast’s first episode, Dr. Kolb reviews the anatomy of skin, hair and nails, while also giving a shout-out to his medical alma mater, DMU. Listeners gain fun facts such as that the skin is the largest organ of the body; the average adult has approximately five million hairs, including 100,000 on the scalp, of which 100 are lost daily; and the average adult sheds nine pounds of skin cells yearly, which make up about half the amount of dust in our homes.
“I know your head is spinning, but in fact we’ve just been scratching the surface,” Dr. Grumpy Pants very haughtily intones in the first episode. “Perhaps let’s – dig a little deeper.”
Producing a podcast is no small undertaking, Dr. Kolb discovered. The Saturday he attempted to record the first episode, the program crashed so he had to start over the next day. He had to map out content for the podcast, which also needed recording gear and a logo.
“It’s a lot of steps. Step one is figuring out your ‘why,’ because it’s a huge journey to begin recording, much less making it go live,” he says.
Fortunately, his brother, Garrett, and friend Dan Thompson, both former bandmates, came on board to assist with sound production and post-production. (Dr. Kolb plays rhythm, lead and bass guitar and was a member of DMU’s Muscle Energy band, among other bands.) Dr. Kolb writes out the scripts, which prior to recording are reviewed by Dr. Krishnamurthy, who also helps plan the content. The podcast’s website includes a helpful study guide.
While producing the podcast takes significant time, Dr. Kolb says the positive feedback it’s received from a variety of professionals, including physician assistants and nurse practitioners as well as physicians, medical residents and students, “are what keeps you going.”
“We’ve had students on rotations here who’ve said, ‘Hey, you’re the podcast guy!’ They say it’s helped them on auditions,” he says.
He adds that the Grenz Zone has been “100 percent beneficial” to him as well.
“Whatever I put in each episode, I’ve pretty much got it down. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to teach it through the podcast,” he says. “Dermatology is really hard, but it’s also a really cool field. It’s all about variety, from babies to patients who are over 100 years old and from rashes to surgery.”