As professor of radiology and a committed educator at the University of Washington, Puneet Bhargava, MD, is constantly looking for new ways to teach.
After he started posting regularly on his YouTube page, he knew he had found the right vehicle. The social media platform’s on-demand setup makes it the perfect spot to reach and inform a wide audience.
“If I go to a national meeting, even if the hall’s packed, I can teach 200 to 500 people at a time,” Dr. Bhargava said. “But with YouTube, I could be teaching hundreds of people every hour. I can be teaching when I’m sleeping and wake up to lots of comments from students.”
The page has been popular, attracting more than 3,100 subscribers. Dr. Bhargava’s videos cover a wide variety of topics, which he groups into playlists that range from ways to be a better leader to how to manage your time more effectively.
His videos, which he records at his Seattle-area home studio, vary in length, from an Instagram-friendly minute or shorter to a YouTube-preferred 12 minutes or longer.
No matter the duration, his goal is to hook the viewer from the start, cut the fluff, and engage in storytelling.
“The first 30 seconds to a minute and a half is critical,” Dr. Bhargava said. “The hook has to be spot on. You have to nail it.”
Even then, long-term success isn’t guaranteed. Dr. Bhargava said other YouTubers have given him a good barometer to judge whether a channel is gaining traction.
“Once you produce 100 long-form videos, it’s time to look back and reflect,” he said. “If you made 100 videos and it’s still crickets, there’s no hope. That doesn’t mean you’re a bad radiologist. It just means that you’re not cut out for online education.”
Nitin Venugopal, MD, a University of Washington resident, subscribed to Dr. Bhargava’s page from the start. He’s happy with the variety and subject matter expertise he sees in the content.
“There’s an attention to detail in his content that draws you in and ensures you walk away feeling genuinely smarter about a topic,” he said. “His skill in distilling complex topics and even entire books into short, digestible videos is enhanced by his thoughtful use of the camera and text overlays, like in his video about the Feynman Technique. The videos command your attention while leaving room for you to think about and be inspired to apply his concepts to your own life and experiences.”
Another resident mentee, Alice Shieh, MD, was inspired by Dr. Bhargava to work in the public domain rather than have her work published somewhere that requires a subscription. She is developing a webpage with built-in algorithms and text macros that can be pasted into radiology reports to streamline the process of accessing and sorting through management guidelines, which can be repetitive and time-consuming.
Dr. Bhargava is always looking for subjects that will draw the most views, but he doesn’t see attention on YouTube as a competition among medical professionals. He wants as many of his colleagues as possible on the platform.
“If we have more creators in the radiology domain, all of us will rise with the tide,” he said. “I’ve met medical students who said that they were inspired to go into radiology because of radiology education videos they have watched from my channel and others.”
He said that his demographic skews younger, which is reflected in his content. One of his goals is to ensure that radiology remains front of mind with his subscribers, some of whom are still pondering which medical specialty to pursue.
“I like to showcase our specialty,” Dr. Bhargava said. “Hopefully, if a medical student is watching, they’re thinking, ‘Oh my God, radiology is so cool.’”