Guest Post: Bringing Osmosis to Medical Schools

Osmosis Team
Jan 13, 2014

We want to take this opportunity to introduce an amazing colleague of ours, Caleb Furnas, who has been helping medical schools understand how they may "teach by Osmosis." He joined Osmosis at the AAMC and Philadelphia IMPACT conferences, and did a great job of conveying our excitement to attendees of both meetings. We know you'll enjoy his posts, including this one about what attracted him to Osmosis and his plans with us moving forward.  

By Caleb Furnas, M.A.

I started volunteering with Osmosis in September to help medical schools learn about the educational innovations that the team is developing. I have a background in public policy and technology and worked for several years on behalf of The Benefit Bank, an online tool that connects eligible families to work supports, like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Working with Osmosis and within educational technology has been a slight shift for me. I joined in part because of the persuasive pitch given by Shiv about the origins of the software. But I had been interested in educational technology since using an online tool for a graduate course on Milton’s Paradise Lost. In that course, the entire class, including the professor, used a glorified bulletin board to post interpretations and to converse about weekly assignments.

Years later, I remember those online conversations better than I do much of my other coursework. Why is this? I remember them better, I think, because that tool helped me to contextualize the ideas from class. Somehow, because they were shared within a deliberately social space, and were the effective representation of our online personas, those ideas stuck better.

I was drawn to Osmosis because it offers a similar promise: to help students learn by contextualizing the content of their medical education. Too often, educational content is privileged above all else, and so students are left to their own devices, with volumes to learn. What appeals to me about Osmosis is that it aims to level the playing field by emphasizing the “how” of medical education. And ultimately, by using Osmosis, we hope to make medical education stick better.

Please feel free to contact me at [email protected] if you want to brainstorm or discuss bringing Osmosis to your medical school. At the AAMC meeting in November I had the great opportunity to meet many medical school faculty and administrators who are equally passionate about improving medical education and, ultimately, the quality of our future clinicians and healthcare system. I look forward to speaking with many more of you.