Voice of Duke Health Listening Booth and Podcast – Zuiker

    Voice of Duke Health Listening Booth and Podcast

    Author: Anton Zuiker, Communications Director

    Organization: Duke University Department of Medicine

    Practice Category: Conversations/Support

    Relational Type: Trust among team members

    Voices of Duke Health, an initiative of the Duke Department of Medicine (School of Medicine) and the Duke Health Office for Patient Safety and Clinical Quality (Duke University Health System), invites Duke Health providers, staff, students, trainees, patients and visitors to have one-on-one conversations about what is meaningful in their lives, work and relationships through facilitated discussion in a listening booth.

    These conversations are recorded, and offered to participants for their own use and for sharing with family and friends. With the consent of the speakers, conversations also are aired in a podcast that is public and available to anyone. Audio recordings, photos, and conversation transcripts are posted to our website (http://listeningbooth.info), and the podcast is promoted through newsletters, social media and posters. In addition, a mobile recording cart is regularly taken into the medical center hallways and to special events to invite people to answer a question of the day, often around gratitude or inspiration. These shorter sound bites are collected into themed segments for the podcast.

    “At the heart of the Voices of Duke Health project is our passion for the art of listening. We know that health care, and life in general, is fast-paced and full of stresses. The listening booth fosters conversations between people, and provides time and space to slow down and listen to each other. The podcast similarly invites listeners to slow down and be informed and inspired by others. This project is informed by What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear by Danielle Ofri, MD, which explores the importance of listening to health care interactions.”

    Podcast conversations have involved medical students, psychiatry residents, physicians, nurses, and other providers, as well as hospital presidents, staff, patients, spouses and children The episodes have covered a beloved palliative care physician’s loss of a son and his subsequent grief and interactions with hospital colleagues, the proper use of a stress ball, and medical student-faculty projects on patient communication and caregiver burnout, focusing on stories of resiliency, inspiration, compassion, diversity of experience, and empathy. Duke plans to grow this trust practice dramatically over the next few years, setting an ambitious goal of recording 5,000 voices by 2025.


    • Listening
    • Sound editing and production
    • Multimedia storytelling
    • Journalism/communications

    Proof of Concept:

    Duke believes one of the most important ways to build trust is to listen, and to encourage listening. The Voices of Duke Health reflects trust in these ways:

    • Trust is strengthened between those participating in a conversation, which is facilitated by a host who listens, engages and ensures participants have a meaningful time in the listening booth.
    • Our review and approval process builds trust between participants and Voices team because we publish the podcast episode only after all the voices approve and feel good about how they are being shared.
    • Sharing, supporting, and celebrating the stories of our people allows their experiences, emotions, vulnerabilities and strengths to be validated.
    • Building on research and training expertise of colleagues in the Duke Patient Safety Center, we focus on the positive emotions of well-being, especially gratitude. When we listen to participants, we are conveying our trust in our colleagues and patients to be themselves.


    Most hospitals and academic medical centers have staff with the skills and competencies to replicate this project. Many may already be collecting voices for their videos or multimedia projects. To produce Voices of Duke Health, the team includes a freelance radio journalist with sound editing and production skills; a third-year medical student with an interest in multimedia storytelling; a manager with 25 years of experience in journalism and communications; and a physician leader with an understanding of patient quality and safety as well as provider wellness and resiliency.

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