Selected Podcast

The Doctor Is In: Building a Brand

Dr. Nicole Rankins explores the process of building a brand.
The Doctor Is In: Building a Brand
Featured Speaker:
Nicole Rankins, MD
Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins is a board-certified, practicing OB/GYN Hospitalist and Site Director with OBHG who empowers first time moms to feel supported and prepared for pregnancy and birth. Over the last 15 years she’s helped more than 1,000 babies come into this world and has demystified pregnancy and childbirth for thousands more women through her 5-star rated All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast which has been downloaded over 850,000 times. Visit her website and follow her on Instagram @drnicolerankins.

Prakash Chandran (Host): Feel calm, confident, and empowered for one of the most meaningful events of your life. You deserve a pregnancy and birth experience that's right for you. These comforting words are taken from the website of our guest today, Dr. Nicole Rankins. She's an OB/GYN and Site Director for OB Hospitalist Group. She also runs a podcast and website for pregnant patients. And today, she’s going to be talking with us with advice for physicians who want to build their own brand.

This is the Obstetrics Podcast from OB Hospitalist Group. I'm Prakash Chandran. So Dr. Rankins, it's really great to have you here today. Thank you so much for being here. You know, you began schooling for engineering. What made you decide that you wanted to be a doctor and specifically an OB GYN?

Nicole Rankins, MD (Guest): Yeah, that's a great question. So, this sounds really woo, woo and crazy. But I swear, I, as I was in the middle of getting my engineering degree, I looked in the mirror and saw myself wearing a white coat. And it just sort of planted a seed in my head that maybe I think I might want to pursue medicine and I just followed the trail. Ended up going to medical school.

And then when I was in medical school, I was either going to do women's health. Well I knew I wanted to do women's health. I did not like having men as patients. No, no shade to men, but I didn't like having them as patients. And I ...

Host: Understood. wouldn't want

Dr. Rankins: And I either wanted to do general surgery or OB GYN, because I liked doing things with my hands and I ended up choosing OB GYN.

Host: How interesting. So, you kind of had that vision of yourself in a white coat, and that drove you to say, you know what, this is a strong enough, I guess, visualization that I need to enroll myself in medical school and go all the way with this. Is that correct?

Dr. Rankins: Yeah, I started just like looking at it a little bit more, a little bit more. And here I am, 15 something odd years later.

Host: Wow. That is amazing. So tell us, how long have you been an OB GYN. Also then tell us, when did you transition to be a hospitalist?

Dr. Rankins: Yeah. So I graduated from medical school in 2002. So, finished residency in 2006. So I've been in practice now for 15 years. And I transitioned to being a hospitalist seven years ago. I initially actually started out in academics. So, after I did my residency at Duke, I did a research fellowship at UNC Chapel Hill, totally planned to do a career in research and academics. That was not right for me. I stumbled upon a hospitalist position, which is right for me. I will retire as a hospitalist. And I've been doing that for the past about 7, 7, 8 years or so.

Host: And just out of curiosity, why do you feel so strongly about your role as a hospitalist?

Dr. Rankins: So it works for me. The office wasn't great for me. I was always behind because I like to spend time with patients. In some respects, I felt like I was kind of a pap smear factory for lack of a better way to put it. And I just didn't, I didn't have control over my schedule and the things that I did.

So I just didn't feel like it was the best use of my talent. So as a hospitalist, I love what I do. I don't have to necessarily be rushed. I have a predictable schedule. It also allows me to spend time with my husband and children and do outside interests that I'm guessing we're going to get to like having a whole separate brand and business. So I just absolutely love being a hospitalist and it's just, it is, I swear, it never, ever gets old being part of someone's birth, never gets old.

Host: Yeah. That's absolutely amazing. Thanks for sharing that. So, as you mentioned, you know, we're talking about building a brand today and you have a website and a podcast. So, maybe let's talk a little bit about what led you to launch them.

Dr. Rankins: Yes. So when I left, when I became a hospitalist, I still didn't quite feel fulfilled. And I also saw that there was a lot of information out there online that was inaccurate about pregnancy and birth, and that we as medical practitioners hadn't really gone into that online space. A lot of it was because of just not having time. So I actually started with a blog and writing a blog was hard and to maintain, it was hard. Also around the same time. I'm a total podcast junkie. I listen to podcasts all the time. Like Serial was probably like, when I really like really got crazy in the podcasts. Yes, it's like Serial season one is some of the best podcasting that was ever done.

And yeah, and I said, hey, let me see what it's like to start a podcast. And it's actually not that hard to start a podcast. The harder part is maintaining it. But I ended up starting a podcast. It's called All About Pregnancy and Birth. It's a weekly podcast and we are now over 800,000 downloads.

Host: Oh, my gosh. That is absolutely amazing. So let's just kind of go back and talk about maybe some of the first blog posts you ever did, because that was like kind of a seed of of this. Do you remember what you wrote about and what your intention was as you were creating this content?

Dr. Rankins: Yeah. So I wrote about actually I swear I had the most like circuitous route to where I am, but I actually started out with health coaching. So, just because I like to collect degrees apparently, I went back and got certified as an integrative health coach and back to Duke actually. And so I was going to start this whole sort of health coaching side business. And that proved to be harder than I thought. So health coaching, it was like articles on health coaching in general women's wellness. And then I realized that I was, the whole classic talking to everybody or talking to no one. And then at the same time, I started as a hospitalist where I was just focused on pregnancy and birth.

And I had this aha moment like, oh, I need to marry like my day job of delivering babies 99% of the time with what I do online and provide information about pregnancy and birth. So, the blog sorta started off general and then got narrowed down, focused down onto the pregnancy and birth and then switched into a podcast.

Host: So speaking about the content itself, how do you navigate giving advice and sharing medical information on a public forum, like a podcast or a website?

Dr. Rankins: Yes. So I have of course, disclaimers on my website and things that everything is educational purposes only. I have a disclaimer in the beginning of every podcast episode that everything is for educational purposes only. So, I'm very clear on that and I never give specific medical advice and always careful to say that in general, that this is what you know, what the information is. It's not specific medical advice and that has worked well for me for the last couple of years that I've been doing this.

Host: Okay. Gotcha. So, you know, you talked about the blog and you have website. I see that you also have an Instagram, so a presence on social media. Talk a little bit tactically about how you thought about building a following on each. Right? Did you build your website and social media first or was it in tandem with your podcast? Talk a little bit about how you thought about that ordering.

Dr. Rankins: Yeah, that's a good question. So, my website, I started with website and blog, and then I don't blog at all anymore. So, it's really just the podcast is the only content I put out. So, as what I was doing evolved, then you know, I added social media and a regular presence on Facebook and Instagram, and really it's just about being consistent. So, all of it was kind of happened like I was holding all the balls in the air at the same time. Like I need a website, I have a podcast, let me do social media and kind of working on those things together if that makes sense.

Host: Yeah, that totally makes sense. And when did you really feel like, hey, you know what people are paying attention to this? This is something that's really resonating with the audience that I'm intending to go after. Was there kind of a moment that you remember?

Dr. Rankins: Yeah, I would say my podcast I started it 2019 and podcasting is a long game and probably six months into it, maybe, I mean, my downloads just started skyrocketing and really I was getting feedback. Oh, you know, and reviews on Apple podcasts, love your content, appreciate your content. So that was when I really realized that what I was doing was resonating with folks and it just helped me to continue.

Host: Amazing. Now, one of the things that you talked about was the amount of misinformation that is out there. So, you know, for the medical providers or doctors that are listening to this, how might they counter misinformation by being a professional voice?

Dr. Rankins: Yeah. So I would say that you can't do all the things. And it's very difficult when you're still in the office to also have an online presence. So, it's not something that you have to have. So I recommend that most folks just find some consistent sources that you like and then send people to those sources. Like you don't have to recreate the wheel if you don't want to, or you don't have to jump into the space if you don't want to. Just find some resources that you can point patients to that you know, are good and reliable sources of information. And then I would say if you decide to jump in the space, that you can't do all the things and just focus on clear, consistent messaging. A lot of times, people get hung up with like, oh, I need a website. Oh, I need a logo. Or I need colors. Nobody listens to you because of your logo. They listen to you because of your message.

Host: Well, I guess a related question is how can people within the medical community engage these patients? How can they find their voice? Do you have any tips around that?

Dr. Rankins: Ooh. The biggest thing I would say is that you first have to know yourself and be comfortable with yourself and confident in yourself and your skills and your ability. And when you first start with I know who I am, and I know what gifts and talents that I bring. I mean, some of this is a little woo wooish, but that sort of personal development work, then you're able to present yourself in a way authentically. And honestly, when you're presenting yourself in an authentic way, people see that and it resonates with them. And some of those little details don't necessarily like, you don't have to get hung up in the details. And some people will like you, some people won't, that's just the nature of how things are, but you always doing, you're always doing it in an authentic way. If that makes sense.

Host: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Just going through your website, one thing that I've noticed is that you're talking directly to the viewer, you know, I have a two and a half month old right now. So I'm kind of fresh.

Dr. Rankins: Oh, you are, you are fresh.

Host: Yes, I'm fresh, I'm fresh. But you know, my wife happened to go through hypnobirthing and was just doing a just doing lot of research on, you know, on the internet, finding different sites, finding different influencers. And, I think the thing that resonated most with her is that she always felt like the best ones were speaking directly to her and just stating an opinion in a non-pushy way. And I feel like your website does a very good job at that.

Dr. Rankins: Yeah, it's not just my website, that's all of my work. That's how I communicate like clear, consistent messaging on what I stand for and helping women be empowered for their birth. That is my passion purpose and what I do in all of my work, whether it's at the bedside or online.

Host: So Dr. Rankin, since you've embarked on this journey, has there been anything that surprised you and whether that be reporters reaching out or people wanting to do collaborations, anything like that, you can share?

Dr. Rankins: I would say honestly, I dont know if surprised is the right word, but saddens me in a way. Some of the stories that I hear from women about the experiences that they've had giving birth, are depressing and sad. We have some work to do in the US specifically, in the way that we approach birth, in the way that we treat women during birth. And I would say that's probably the part that has surprised or saddened me the most.

Host: And what do you feel like, you know, because we're obviously having this conversation to a lot of medical providers and practitioners, as we speak about this topic, what is a common theme that you're hearing from the people that you engage with? Like unfortunate things during their pregnancy, that medical practitioners can improve upon.

Dr. Rankins: Just listen to people and believe what they're saying, honestly. Just having that space to listen and believe and center that pregnant person in their experience and in their pregnancy experience and their birth experience, listening and believing is just so important.

Host: Absolutely. You know, you spoke earlier about talking to other doctors and them feeling the need, like, you know, I need a website, I need a logo. I want to start doing what you're doing. And you talked also about the importance of having confidence in yourself, finding your own voice. Do you have any other advice, tactically around starting a podcast or publishing out there into the world, whether it be web or social media?

Dr. Rankins: Yes, I would say, get help probably before you need it. It doesn't actually have to be a lot. Like I don't do all of this by myself. I have a virtual assistant who helps me with a lot of this. I have a podcast editor who helps me. Now in the beginning, I did a lot of it myself. And that will quickly get overwhelming. So find help if this is something that you want to do, and I would say the other couple of things that if you want to try and monetize it or gain money from it, you have to have a strategy for that. I have an online childbirth education class as well called The Birth Preparation Course.

So, women enroll through the course there. I've had over a thousand women. I'm actually closer to 1500 at this point enroll in the course. So, that's not why I do it, for the money, but this requires some financial investment as well. So have sort of think through some of the strategy. And then the other thing I would say is just keep going. Like this isn't always easy, but if it's something that you want to do, you'll, you'll stumble, you'll fall. You'll figure things out. You just have to keep going.

Host: I think that's great advice. And just before we close here today, you've reached this level. You have over 800,000 downloads on your way a to a million. What's next for you?

Dr. Rankins: I don't know. I've always hated that question. Like, where are going to be in? And not to you, but like, it's a common thing. Like where are you going to, where do you see yourself in a year? Where do you see yourself in five years? And I have no idea. What I have learned is that I have to live in the moment. I look a little bit into the future. But I could have never predicted like five years ago that I would be right here. So, I try to live in the moment, be open to, to receive and look for new paths and opportunities. So I don't know. We'll see where I'll be in a year.

Host: Yeah. I mean, I think just taking a step back, you have a clear mission that you're on to provide this education and advice in an unbiased way to mothers who might be feeling a little bit scared about their pregnancy. And you talked about kind of your circuitous route to where you are today, but you're just basically staying true to yourself and your mission and whatever unfolds for you and whatever door opens next is what you're going to take as long as it's consistent with your value. Is that fair?

Dr. Rankins: 100% and I very narrowly also stay in my lane of hospital birth. Like I don't talk about home birth. I don't talk about birth center birth because that's not what I know. So, I very narrowly stay in my lane, hospital birth, first-time moms. And like you said, always go back to my values and follow those things, you know, follow those leads and nudges and go from there.

Host: Well, Dr. Rankins, this has been a truly informative conversation. Thank you so much for your time.

Dr. Rankins: Thank you.

Host: That's Dr. Nicole Rankins an OB GYN and Site Director for OB Hospitalist. If you want to see more of what Dr. Rankins has to offer, please visit and her last name is spelled R-A-N-K-I-N-S. Thanks for checking out this episode of the OB Hospitalist Group podcast series. If you found this podcast to be helpful, please share it on your social channels and be sure to check out the entire podcast library for topics of interest to you. Thanks again for listening. My name is Prakash Chandran and we'll talk next time.