Interview with Hippo Education’s Aaron Bright, MD

What’s Hippo Education?

Hippo Education is the company behind some of the most fun podcasts you’ve ever downloaded: EM RAP, Peds RAP, Urgent Care RAP and, most awesome of all, Primary Care RAP. Sure, we may be biased. But it’s alright.

Hippo EducationWhat does Hippo do?

Like OnlineMedEd does for the clinical years of medical school, Hippo’s mission is to radically change medical education. Their target audience is practicing physicians who want a fun way to get up to date and get their CME, instead of reading dry journals. However, they offer a deep discount for students and residents, who can learn tons from the podcast. And with a tag line of “Because what you do matters” you can’t help but love ’em.

Seriously, Why Did They Call it Hippo?!

If you’re looking for a cute story about an African mammal I regret to disappoint. Hippo is short for Hippocrates, because it was founded by doctors, and we are all a little bit nerdy when it comes to medical history.

Who’s Behind It?

Originally co-founded by Aaron Bright and Mel Hebert, two emergency medicine doctors who wanted a better way to stay up-to-date on new research and practice changing guidelines. Now, there’s an entire team of docs on the Hippo Education Team, contributing to various podcasts.

How’s It Work?

For each version of the RAP, a new podcast is released each month, with several “chapters” of content. There’s always a free chapter (perfect for the most destitute of medical students), and residents can get a year subscription (sans CME credit) for a deeply discounted rate.

The Interview

I asked Dr. Bright quite a few questions, which he was more than happy to answer. Enjoy our discussion!

Initially, Hippo was focused on Emergency Medicine. What inspired you to launch Primary Care:RAP and the other RAP CME offerings?

Hippo Education BlogWe’ve always been pretty passionate about education and medicine in general. Weirdly, our first product was a board exam review for PAs. A couple years back we partnered with the AAPA to be their official PA board review. But, you’re right, we have always had a special place for EM. I would give you a really high brow PhD answer for why but, honestly, myself and my co-founder are both ER doctors so we probably started there because of our outsized egos! Once we started we got a TON of positive feedback – and folks from throughout medicine asking for their own education… so off we went. We went for primary care because we have a lot of love for folks on the front lines. I almost went into family medicine myself.

Your podcast style is very conversational, in bite-size chunks. Is there any data, anecdotal or otherwise, for the format and why it’s successful?

Research and common sense kind of supports it. Nobody learns well by drinking from a fire hose, thus the bite sized chunks. And, we just wanted the style to be real, honest, and human. We didn’t want to sound formal because we are far from formal. We care about making top notch education and showing the human side of being a clinician.

What’s the most interesting feedback you’ve gotten since launching PC:RAP?

Building a community of super awesome users has been phenomenal. It’s clear people have come on board because our vibe is not stiff and sterile. I think the most interesting feedback other than the great kudos we get for filling what folks thought was a void was a person who emailed me from Oklahoma. She said, please stop beeping out the curse words!

In your own words, why should family medicine interns and residents subscribe to PC:RAP?

Primary Care RAP EpisodesWe make this stuff with a serious mission. We are looking to pay a tremendous amount of respect to the people taking care of patients every day. We want to respect them by giving them phenomenal education, and also by helping them feel a bit less alone. We get a lot of feedback from people who say they feel like there are other clinicians out there “just like me” and sometimes, especially in training, it seems like we’re surrounded by nutballs! You’re not alone, medicine is full of awesome people. We hope PC:RAP can make you a better practitioner and at the same time make you feel great about choosing medicine.

Should third or fourth year medical students subscribe, or are they better served by sticking to the free stuff?

Making great stuff is very hard to do for free over the long term. We are constantly experimenting with ways to get this stuff into the hands of the poor students and residents… I know cash is often tight, I was there once. I once calculated my hourly rate at sub $2.00 in residency! I would say if you’re a medical student that’s choosing family medicine and you want to listen to Primary Care RAP, gather a group and shoot us an email, we’ll try to get you on board somehow.

What is the major advantage/benefit to Hippo Education podcasts, versus other online/in-person CME courses?

I’m biased but we’ve got heart and soul! We try to be better, easier, and more effective. We’re run by physicians, not MBAs, and we care deeply about this stuff. We hope it comes through clearly. We always say, check out the other stuff. If you find something better please let us know.

I’ve listened to the other free podcasts from Hippo Education (Urgent Care RAP, Pediatrics RAP and EM:RAP) and it really seems like all of them could benefit residents and physicians in Family Medicine – what makes PC:RAP a better subscription choice?

All of them have a slightly different focus. For Family Medicine Primary Care RAP is going to be your best bet if you want just one thing. But, you’re right, they all have good info. It’s the joy and curse of FM… you’re supposed to know everything!

Please answer a question you wish we had asked, that you feel is important for students interested in Family Medicine, or soon-to-be FM residents, to know about.

Not really a question but I just want to encourage everyone to stay the course. Being a physician is a real honest-to-goodness privilege that allows you to do things for people and experience things for yourself that much of humanity will never experience. There is a lot of politics but if you try hard not to get sucked up into it… it’s a great thing to do with your life. Good luck!

On the EM side there’s a lot more robust content – Does Hippo Education have any future plans to offer similar services for the primary care side?

Oh, we’ve got plans! But, tell me, what do you mean by more robust?

For EM you have the podcast, but you also have ABEM on demand board review, a resident board prep package, the Essentials of EM, and the Certification for Peds Acute/EM Care. Compared to “just” the podcasts for Peds, Primary Care and Urgent Care it’s pretty robust. Knowing your background is in EM, it makes sense, but as FM interns we’re always wondering if similar additional stuff on the Primary Care side is in the works. Or, honestly, anything new Hippo related!

Ah! Yes! We are in production for several other products and plans for many more to come. An FM board review is in the works, for example, for residents and attendings. There is also a Pediatric board review in production. But, in general, yes, we plan to soon be a one stop shop for all of the educational needs of FM trainees and attendings, including all the varied requirements of Maintenance of Certification which you guys will know all about soon enough!

Thanks, Dr. Bright!

Primary Care RAP - Because what you do mattersIt was a pleasure to have the opportunity to learn more about Hippo Education and PC:RAP – and as a direct result of this interview I went ahead and subscribed (as a resident) to PC:RAP. I hope to have a review of the podcast up in late August, when I have some downtime scheduled. For now, I highly recommend medical students enjoy the free sample chapter available each month, read the awesome pearls on the Hippo Education blog and follow them on Facebook and Twitter for updates!

Have you used any of the Hippo Education podcasts? Tried the free or paid versions? Let us know in the comments!


Pixie is happiest reading with a cup of tea in hand. She enjoys women’s health, adolescent medicine, painting and polymer clay. For more info, see her much longer bio on the author page.

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