Osmosis Contributor Spotlight: Jimmy Tam Huy Pham, MS4 at Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine at Midwestern University

Thasin Jaigirdar
Mar 26, 2015

Jimmy is a 4th year Medical Student at Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine a Midwestern University. He will be joining the Garden City Hospital, a teaching hospital affiliated with the Michigan State University, to further his graduate medical training in Internal Medicine. Jimmy received his BS in Biological Chemistry and a BA in Chemistry from California State University, Long Beach. He currently serves as a contributor to many different modules as part of Osmosis’ Open Education Resource Initiative which is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. You can follow Jimmy on Twitter (@JimmyTamHuyPham) or at his personal website jimmytamhuypham.com

How did you discover Osmosis, and why did you want to get involved with it?

I came to know about Osmosis by sheer serendipity. During my preparation for USMLE Step II/COMLEX Level II, I was looking for a Q-bank company, other than the popular Q-bank companies out there, to complement my reading and studying. That was when I found Osmosis platform most appealing and helpful. Soon, I was informed about the chance to contribute to Osmosis, I took that opportunity.

Wanting to get involved with Osmosis has been for multifold reasons. I want to share with Osmosis Q-bank what I think is extremely crucial and high yield on the board exams, as I have taken both the USMLE and COMLEX. I also have access to a voluminous and continuously expanding Osmosis Q-bank that become very helpful when I reviewed for my shelf exams and next board exam. And most of all, I have enjoyed working with a group of colleagues who are innovative, passionate, and amiable individuals.

How did you get interested in medicine?

My path to medicine has been circuitous and non-traditional. When I started out college, I wanted to either study to be a musician or to be in politics. I pursued the music path and had a brief but successful stint with the music career. I produced some electronic mix CD’s. I traveled around the States to play at different electronic music events.

But then it was during my job tenure as a Biomedical Technician at a local hospital that I was directly exposed to different aspects of medicine and started to understand what a medical career would exactly entail. I fell in love with medicine. I returned to school and pursued medicine.

What has been your favorite block so far in medical school and why?

It can sound strange, or even heterodox, when I say this but I love every single block! During didactic years, I greatly enjoyed biochemistry, physiology, microbiology, and pharmacology. I felt that they are all important bits and pieces in figuring out a ‘zebra’ disease. I get excited when the signs and symptoms do not fit any typical, classic diagnosis!

During my clinical years, every time I enter a new rotation, I wanted to become that type of doctor! I enjoyed each and every one of my core rotations. I think that is why I chose to go into Internal Medicine at the end. I want to be in a specialty that encompasses different aspects of medicine – and Internal Medicine fits me well.

What tips do you have for undergraduate students currently applying to medical school?

I have been serving as a mentor at the National College Student Mentoring Program and as a Student Interviewer on the Medical Admission Committee at my school and I have seen a fair share of very young and bright individuals applying to medical schools because they excelled academically but had limited clinical experience or patient exposure. My suggestion would be to extend their horizon beyond just taking classes and MCAT studying. Shadow many doctors in different environments. It helps the individuals to be well rounded and to become knowledgeable about the career they have chosen to pursue. Plus, they can respond to interview questions with confidence and maturity.

What advice do you have for incoming first-year medical students?

Adjustment to the rigorous medical curriculum and meeting of new friends can be both exciting and daunting during the first two didactic years. Relax a little. If time permits, try to find a local non-profit organizations or local medical centers that interest you to volunteer and gain first-hand clinical experience. This serves both to keep you away from the constant studying and also to remind you why to go into medicine in the first place – to help people. This will rekindle your fiery passion should you become jaded with all the first-year drudgery and ‘exam marathon.’

What would you personally like to see changed with how medical education is currently run today?

Medicine is a fast changing landscape. A lot of what is being practiced either was not taught in medical school or has been updated so quickly. For example, a new category of medication for diabetes treatment, SGLT-2 inhibitor, has just been added to this year’s curriculum. In clinical practice, it has been prescribed for quite some time now.

Thus pinpointing what exactly needs to be changed in undergraduate medical education is difficult. Having said that, I do think the first two years of didactic curriculum should be constantly updated and adjusted to have more correlation with clinical medicine. By doing so, the materials seem less mundane. As medical students we would appreciate why we must know all the minute details of the biochemical pathways or the mechanisms of adrenergic receptors. It puts meaning to what we learn.

What is your best study-tip?

Repetition, repetition, repetition. Read, re-read, and read again. To do so, start early. It’s never too early to start doing question banks. That was one of the reasons which attracted me to join Osmosis. While I prepare to write questions for different sections of Osmosis, I must read up on the topics and this motivates me to engage in that most fruitful learning process: read, do questions, read again, and repeat.

The pedagogy posits that the higher order of thinking skills, according to Bloom’s taxonomy, starts when we can apply our knowledge and comprehension. Thus doing question banks early on will only help when it comes time for board exams, where critical thinking is required.

I see that you are an editor and reviewer at many different journals. How did you get interested in scientific review and what has that experience been like?

I have always enjoyed the different, yet intertwined, aspects of science and medicine: research, education, and practice. This tripod of interaction in science and medicine has led me to actively seek involvement with academic research and clinical education, along with obtaining my medical training. I have spent a lot of time in conducting fundamental and translational research to mainly satisfy my scientific curiosities. Moreover, spending a lot of time in research laboratories has led me to realize that the advancement of medicine relies on the backbone of translational and clinical research. Furthermore, education – that is, sharing the findings at scientific and specialty conferences with colleagues – goes hand in hand with conducting research and clinical practice.

I became interested in serving as a journal editor or reviewer to share my expertise and knowledge. Also, being actively involved in the academic world, I am compelled to keep up with the latest published studies, share my recent research findings, and follow most updated guidelines. All of these, in turn, would make me a well-rounded, knowledgeable clinician who can recognize many disease processes, follow the latest guidelines, and optimize the most beneficial treatment for my patients.