Keeping up with current medical literature is a constant struggle. The amount of information in healthcare doubles every 5-7 years. To keep up, I try to take advantage of time that would be lost (for instance, while driving in my car). I typically use my commute time (a 20 minute drive each way) to listen to audio books, but occasionally I’ll “read” a scholarly manuscript using a PDF-to-voice conversion program.

My favorite app for converting PDFs to sound is Voice Dream. I initially found this app while looking for a way to listen to web content (before the feature was built into apps like Pocket and Instapaper). I was pleasantly surprised when I found Voice Dream could also translate PDFs.

I prefer Voice Dream to other readers because of its customizability. I’ve customized the voice speed, pitch, and volume. The readback speed takes some trial and error in order to find the proper speed to keep your attention and allow understanding.

Voice Dream loads PDFs from Dropbox, Box, or Google Drive. I have a designated folder on Dropbox specifically for manuscripts I’d like to listen to. The interface for Voice Dream is intuitive. As the voice reads the text, the program highlights its current position in the text.

Using this method, I recover almost 40 minutes of time that would otherwise be lost. Let me know what you think.

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