Back at the start of the pandemic in 2020, there was little light to be found anywhere. But one good thing did come out of those days: the Two Humerus Nurses podcast.
Kelly Scorey and Alisha Beavis are registered nurses working at the same hospital in northern Victoria. They met in 2016 and quickly became fast friends thanks to their shared sense of humour – though both admit they are very different personalities. Alisha ‘is very Type A, everything has to be perfect,’ Kelly says, ‘I’m more of a just go with the flow type.’
‘It’s such a nice balance,’ Alisha adds. ‘It never affects our friendship. We’re always respectful. Even when we disagree, it’s a respectful disagreement. And it always inspires discussion.’
A long-time fan of podcasts, Kelly is a natural storyteller. Alisha, meanwhile, is very into ‘the science-y stuff’. Their chemistry is obvious.
They had thought about capitalising on their friendship with ‘something creative and fun like a podcast’ for a while, and one night in 2020 Kelly ‘got drunk on a Friday night with [her] hubby, sitting out the front, and then came inside, got online and bought the podcasting equipment’.
‘And then I get a text,’ Alisha says. ‘It simply said: bought the equipment, we’re starting next week.’
And they did. At first it was a way for them ‘to deal with the fact that work, and everything really, was so depressing at the time,’ Alisha explains. ‘We just really wanted to do something fun and light, and talk about the things in nursing that every nurse knows, that we all talk about in the tea room or at parties when we get together.’
‘It just seemed like a fun way to get through the pandemic to be honest,’ Kelly adds. ‘We didn’t expect it to be anything like it’s grown into.’
What it has grown into a something of a phenomenon. Experiencing 77 per cent annual growth, they’ve racked up more than 80,000 downloads over the past two years. In June 2022, they reached #7 in the Apple Podcast Charts’ medicine category. They’ve had international guests including Florida-based viral video star, activist and comedian Nurse Blake, and The Cellfie Show hosts Tori Meskin and Sam Manassero – aka, the US versions of Kelly and Alisha – as well as high-profile Australian guests such as Mike Fox, one of the stars of Channel 9 reality TV series Paramedics (and a former CCRN).
Not too shabby for two country nurses who started on an impulse, and didn’t have any experience in podcasting when they began.
Because the podcast can be very raw and unfiltered, Kelly and Alisha were sure to do their due diligence with regards to the workplace, and their legal and ethical obligations. ‘Before we started,’ Alisha says, ‘we went through everything we could find on AHPRA about the code of conduct and making sure that we were adhering to that.’
‘We also checked our social media policy for work,’ Kelly adds. ‘And I contacted the ANMF.
‘Nursing is a love, and we love to talk about nursing, which is why we have a nursing podcast. But it isn’t a reflection of our of our actual job. It’s important to maintain professional boundaries.’
From hobby to helping
‘We were just treating it as a hobby,’ Alisha says, ‘and then as it was growing, we were like: hang on, this could be a business! People are responding in a way that we never expected.’
‘The stories and feedback we get from people is that we are making a difference,’ Kelly adds. ‘For instance, with mental health episodes that we’ve done, where we’ve spoken so candidly about our own mental health, we’ve had people reach out and say “you’ve saved my life; because of you, I’ve gone and spoken to a counsellor, or I spoke to my manager.”
‘It’s just amazing and it’s what inspires us to keep going.’
They’ve recently moved into a professional recording studio courtesy of a local radio station, partly to accommodate their rapid growth and partly because it was no longer feasible to record in Alisha’s kitchen following the birth of her daughter last year.
Each episode takes a few hours of research and planning, an hour or so to record and maybe another hour or more to edit together. Kelly does a lot of the work to secure guests and organise schedules. ‘I’m the most unorganised person,’ Alisha says with a laugh. ‘For a Type A I’m really unorganised!’
Alisha will then do a lot of the research to put together general talking points (and designs the social media artwork). They don’t produce a script as such, preferring to keep the flow conversational. ‘We find that if it’s too scripted, it doesn’t sound like us,’ Kelly explains. ‘We just have a conversation and record it. A semi-organised conversation.’
A casual conversation
Their conversational tone contributed to one of Kelly’s personal highlights. ‘We got a one-star review that was, in my mind, a five-star review,’ she explains. ‘It said: “Not great. Listening to this podcast felt like I was sitting too close to two nurses chatting about work. It was a conversation rather than a podcast. They use too much jargon and laugh too much at their personal jokes.”’
‘At the time we were outraged that we got a one-star review,’ Alisha adds, ‘and then we were like: actually that’s kind of the point of the podcast. Our intro literally says: conversational chat, about nursing.’
Kelly loves that review so much now that Alisha printed it out, framed it and gave it to her as a birthday present!
Now in their third season, they’ve produced over 70 episodes. Among their personal favourites, Kelly loves their nurses who kill series, as well as episode Off Duty, in which she shares a really personal story about her father-in-law having a heart attack. ‘It was a really interesting experience to have that outside of a hospital with your own family members. So I love that episode.’
Alisha’s favourite episode was her birth story. ‘It was the first time Kelly had heard any of it. She was like: “don’t tell me anything; we’re gonna record it and it’s gonna be great.” And now I think how incredible it is that it’s there forever, and I can just go back and listen to this amazing experience that I had.’
The whole Two Humerus Nurses journey is an amazing experience indeed.