Madison Park resident and urologist Richard Pelman moved to the neighborhood in 1985, opening his first office in Bellevue.
In the mid-‘90s, the Washington StateUrology Society endeavored to correct an information deficit when it came to health and medicine, with an emphasis on male audiences.
“They seem to be more reluctant to seek healthcare,” Pelman said.
A series of seminars was hosted across the state that included medical specialists providing information on a number of topics, encouraging men to find a primary care physician and offering advice on how to get the most out of their visits.
That effort evolved in the early 2000s, said Pelman, who worked on a Guide to Men’s Health pamphlet. At that time, there was WebMD, but it only provided advice on what to do about a diagnosis that had already been made, he said, and there were few resources providing people with information for how to care for themselves.
“The evolution to podcast was very eloquent.”
Pelman launched The Original Guide to Men’s Health podcast in April 2019, bringing on experts in a range of medical fields to not only inform, but also to motivate men to take a more serious interest in their health.
“Most men’s approach is, ‘It doesn’t exist,’ or, 'It’s not going to affect me,’” Pelman explains in his introductory episode of The Original Guide to Men's Health, “and there’s nothing worse than seeing a patient come in to see you, who’s worked his whole life and has so much to look forward to, and he just never got something checked and we found it too late.”
The WSUS men’s health chair said the idea to change mediums came from executive director Debi Johnson.
“My first reaction to Debi was, ‘What’s a podcast?'” Pelman said.
When the podcast was pitched to the WSUS board, one member introduced Pelman to their son, Sean Fox, who was making podcasts as a student at Oregon State University. He helped Pelman figure out the equipment he would need for the podcast and now helps him edit and produce the episodes.
“We have a wonderful society that is allowing us to use some of our dues to fund Sean,” Pelman said.
The number of downloads grew from around 400 in May 2019 to nearly 1,000 in September.
The first episode includes an interview with Dr. Kathleen O’Connor, professor emerita at the University of Washington Department of Anthropology and author of the Health Initiatives in Men (HIM) study, who provides insight into why men tend to avoid the doctor’s office.
Pelman recorded 24 episodes last year, interviewing experts on a variety of healthcare topics, including cardiovascular health, diet, exercise, tobacco and vaping, cannabinoids, reproductive health, testis cancer and digital addiction.
He recommends them all, noting they’re not only educational, but free to download and accessible to anyone, with many topics not being exclusive to men, such as an episode on pain management and the opioid crisis, or one on the natural medicine trend.
“These are so good because they’re experts, and you’re getting such great information,” Pelman said.
The Original Guide to Men’s Health is funded for another 24 episodes, with future topics to include back pain, allergies, LGBTQ health, pulmonary disease, dermatological health and healthcare disparities.
Now that he’s retired from the University of Washington School of Medicine’s Urology Department, Pelman has more time to hit the road and conduct interviews.
“We will travel, so the idea is to make it as painless for participants who are willing to make time for our interviews,” he said.
The podcast host said the goal is to reach as many people as possible, and he hopes the public and medical professionals help spread the word, as he sees The Original Guide to Men’s Health as an invaluable resource and an easy way for people to access information that will get them more interested in their well being. It's currently available for listening at iTunes and Google Play.
Pelman said female urologists with WSUS are also exploring the idea of starting a women's health podcast.