It could be his way of explaining antibodies that help immune cells target viruses as "wanted posters." It could be his funny tips, such as this one about swimmer's ear: "If it takes a funny dance to dry out your ears, do the dance. Maybe you will make it rain. We need rain."
For any number of reasons, podcasts from Augusta physician Rob Lamberts are getting a lot of attention. Dr. Lamberts is the House Call Doctor on the Quick and Dirty Tips podcasts from Macmillan Publishing, and his are among the top-ranked health podcasts on iTunes. The podcasts are sort of an outgrowth of his blog, "Musings of a Distractible Mind," which gets a lot of attention and led to his being invited recently to a Washington summit on health care reform.
Being a voice for the practicing physician was important, said Dr. Lamberts, who has a primary care practice in Evans and is board-certified in internal medicine and pediatrics.
"I'm going to be affected by their decisions much more than most people will," he said. "It's going to affect me every single day. And it's going to affect my patients a lot."
The podcasts are more centered on practical questions and straightforward, clear answers, delivered with "his trademark humor," Macmillan said in a news release. That is a reflection of how he practices medicine.
"I enjoy in my practice sitting down and talking to people and explaining exactly what I'm doing, what the problem is," Dr. Lamberts said. "And I've kind of come up with a lot of analogies and explanations for things."
Take this one, about why obsessing over cholesterol numbers without taking into account other risk factors for heart disease is like worrying about natural disasters.
"It's like hurricanes. If you live in Florida, you worry about hurricanes, keeping tabs on the weather and having a house that can withstand high winds and water. If you live in Idaho, on the other hand, you don't have to worry at all about hurricanes (although I guess your risk of being pelted with potatoes goes up)."
His advice seems to serve two purposes, Dr. Lamberts said.
"It was a good opportunity to be able to educate people, to entertain them," he said. "I don't think there are many voices out there that can sit you down and say, 'Well, this is exactly what is going on here with cholesterol,' or explaining the Tylenol (safety) thing."
While Dr. Lamberts enjoys the humor, it has to serve a purpose.
"I don't want it to be out-loud-har-har funny," he said. "I want people to just kind of (say), 'Wait a minute, that was a joke.' To just kind of smile, that it was kind of hidden in there if they just listened."
It is important to him that it not come off as comical.
"Just because I do humor doesn't mean that I'm not deep and that I don't take things seriously," Dr. Lamberts said. "In fact, I take things very seriously. But I think you can do that and laugh at the same time."
Being a physician means dealing with a range of situations.
"The thing that I wrote out a long time ago was just the fact that life is full of very funny things and it is full of very hard things. And oftentimes, they are sitting right next to each other," Dr. Lamberts said. "There are days where I have lots of laughs. There are days obviously as a doctor I'm seeing people's tragedies again and again on a daily basis."
The podcasts allow him to address some very important issues for physicians, such as the overuse of antibiotics, particularly by patients who have a virus and demand an antibiotic, which doesn't work on viruses.
"It would just make it a lot easier for those patients to understand why antibiotics are not magic," Dr. Lamberts said. "Don't think that an antibiotic is going to save you or that it is without a price to use an antibiotic when you don't need it."
Though he has been approached about a book, the podcasts are more amenable for a full-time physician.
"If I get more successful, would I ever quit seeing patients? No," Dr. Lamberts said." First off, I think that's what validates me as a writer and as a podcaster is the fact that I'm actually doing it right now. I'm not disconnected from it. But I also just like it. I just really enjoy it."
Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ON THE WEB
You can listen to Dr. Rob Lamberts' podcasts on medicine at housecall http://housecalldoctor.quickanddirtytips.com/.