Emergency Critical Care Center team celebrates one-year anniversary by podcasting live with Dr. Scott Weingart, Chief of the Division of Critical Care and Director of the Resuscitation and Acute Critical Care Unit at Stony Brook Hospital in New York.

Written by Rob Huang, MD, Assistant Residency Director

It all started innocently enough, when the Department of Emergency Medicine residency leadership reached out to Dr. Scott Weingart to be the grand rounds speaker in February of 2016. The department was excited for the prospect of hearing him speak, and he was intrigued by our new Emergency Critical Care Center (EC3), and the stars of scheduling aligned to make his participation in the emergency medicine lecture series a reality.

In the weeks leading up to his visit, however, it dawned on us that perhaps we were thinking too small. A grand rounds presentation is a great way to disseminate a message to an individual department, but the impact ends there. It seemed a waste to have such a popular medical figure to come all this way to lecture to a couple hundred people. This idea, stuck in the back of our minds, lingered, eating at us, until we finally came together to ask the question: how do you prepare for a grand rounds speaker in the social media world? Dr. Weingart is the Chief of the Division of Critical Care and Director of the Resuscitation and Acute Critical Care Unit at Stony Brook Hospital in New York. He is better known, across the country and world, as the founder and main contributor of EMCrit, a blog and podcast dedicated to advancing and spreading the field of critical care within emergency medicine and beyond. His regular podcast has been downloaded over 12 million times, and he currently receives more than 300,000 downloads per month. To be able to have a speaker and leader of his caliber come to present grand rounds was a coup for the university and the department.

This question set the wheels in motion. Dr. Neumar reached out to Dr. Kyle Gunnerson, the Chief of our Division of Critical Care, and Dr. Ben Bassin, the Director of Operations of EC3, to see if there was a way to increase the impact of Dr. Weingart’s message while showcasing the brilliant critical care minds within our own department. His presence would, after all, coincide with EC3’s first anniversary, and doing something special to mark the occasion seemed fitting. Drs. Gunnerson and Bassin then pulled in our social media committee to see if we could make this idea a reality.

Great ideas often require meticulous planning, but they also depend on a little bit of luck. Our luck came when Dr. Gunnerson presented at a conference a few weeks beforehand with Dr. Weingart, and he was able to pitch the idea of doing a live video podcast (or vodcast) from EC3 to create a showcase about emergency critical care. Dr. Weingart was excited and had an idea for such an event: an “ask us anything” about emergency department critical care centers, or ED-ICUs.

The way an ask us anything, or AUA, works, is to form a panel of experts on a particular topic and create a live broadcast that can be enjoyed by anyone, not just the people in the conference room. Questions are then sent in live from across the globe using reddit and twitter to be answered by the panel, allowing for those not present in the room to still contribute and guide the conversation into the areas that most interest them.

After some heavy twitter advertisement from our department and Dr. Weingart, we filmed for one hour in EC3. Drs. Weingart, Gunnerson, and Bassin were joined by Dr. Whitmore, our Director of Critical Care Education, and Renee Havey, a clinical nurse specialist and the ‘brains’ behind the formation of EC3. I moderated the panel with a crack team of social media experts (Dr. Nikhil Theyyunni, Dr. Mary Haas, Dr. Ryan Tucker, Dr. Sarah Tomlinson, Dr. Daniel Overbeek, and illustrious medical students Jonathan Porath and Matt Chapman) ready to organize and send the questions coming in to me via the Slack messaging application.

I’ll admit to an element of nervousness; while a large minority of our faculty and residents utilize twitter or other social media for medical education purposes, a large majority did not. Would we get internal engagement? And would we get sufficient buy in from those watching at home? I shouldn’t have been worried, as the beginning of our broadcast was characterized by such an onslaught of questions that I had to pick and choose what the panel had time to answer. For an hour, the panel got to stretch their radio personality skills while answering questions on a variety of topics, some related to clinical medicine (“what is your vasopressor of choice for a crashing LVAD patient?”), some to operations and logistics (“how do you maintain a collaborative culture amongst nursing whom are split across the standard emergency department and an ED-ICU?”), and some about education (“how does the implementation of an ED-ICU affect resident ability to do procedures and run resuscitations?”).

In the end, it was a fitting anniversary present to our one-of-a-kind emergency critical care center, and will hopefully help show the rest of the world what good emergency departments can do by bringing critical care to the front lines to help the acutely ill patient. This would not have been possible without the faculty, residents, and students who helped drive the process, and of course, to Dr. Weingart himself. Beyond the creation of a great educational and informational resource, I’m also excited to say that the group managed to perform a minor miracle. Since the broadcast, a number of our residents and faculty have decided to join twitter. Now, the next time we utilize this format, we’ll be able to create an even bigger impact.  The majority of the residency watched the live feed that streamed to our conference room, though it quickly became apparent that natural human voyeurism also inspired a large crowd to investigate exactly what was happening in that crowded critical care room.  After dozens of questions, we wrapped the feed and Dr. Weingart uploaded it to YouTube as a permanent public denizen of free, open access medical education. We all breathed a sigh of relief (and for those on camera, wiped our sweaty brows) and celebrated a successful live demonstration of the strengths and utility of EC3.

To view the video, visit: