Osmosis Contributor Spotlight: Matthew Sakumoto, MS4 at Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University

Thasin Jaigirdar
Mar 30, 2015

Matthew Sakumoto is a 4th year medical Student at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine. He currently serves as a scholar for our Celebrities questions pack as part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Open Education Resource initiative. He received his BS in Biomedical Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and will be entering a residency in Internal Medicine at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego.

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

I first heard about Osmosis from an email blast sent by a classmate. At first it sounded like a way to do some review and make some extra cash, and I also really liked the idea of Pop Culture medicine - our first question packs were based around celebrities with different diagnoses and medical TV shows like House and Grey's Anatomy. I've been with Osmosis for over a year now and have also grown to appreciate the great contributor community of med students (and residents) across the US and across the world who come together to create a really cool learning resource.

How did you get interested in medicine?

I didn't really think about medicine until halfway through college. I originally really liked the idea of biosciences research with all the test tubes and lab mice and discoveries. During my sophmore year I worked with an MD researcher, and I realized I enjoyed watching her interact with her patients in clinic, more than I enjoyed working in the research setting. Luckily, my biomedical engineering major already covered all the pre-med pre-requisites so the switch was easy.

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

At Northwestern we have a rotation called ECMH or Education Centered Medical Home, a primary care block that spans all four years of med school and gives students a chance to develop continuity with a panel of patients. Traditional clinical rotations go by so quickly that you often don't get a chance to see the results of your work (I might see a knee replacement on surgery block, but I have no idea how that person's longterm recovery was. Or I'll be on a psych team taking care of a suicidal patient, and he's better on discharge, but I would wonder if he ever had to be hospitalized again.) I've really felt lucky for the chance to develop a therapeutic relationship in the medical school setting.

What are your goals going forward after medical school?

I'll be going into Internal Medicine at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, CA. I really like clinic and the outpatient setting, so my clinical career will definitely be in primary care. I also have a nerdy interest in informatics and learning to optimize the electronic health record to better track patient outcomes and improve the quality of care.

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

Try to find a really good clinical mentor - someone you can shadow in the office and who can give you advice about the field of medicine (and write you a good letter of recommendation). Don't be afraid to ask - doctors seem busy all the time, but they also love to teach, motivate, and inspire. Also quality is better than quantity when it comes to your extracurriculars - it's much better to have 4 things that you led and can talk about for 10 minutes, than 40 clubs where all you did was go to the meetings.

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

Get to know your older classmates. There is a lot of information thrown at you and talking to someone who has recently been through your curriculum can help you mentally triage what is high yield and what is meaningless trivia. Also if your school is Pass-Fail, then embrace that ethos. Study hard, but take the time to volunteer at clinics and expand your experience with the non-book learning side of medicine.

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

I've actually been impressed with the innovations in medical education I've seen come out of the AAMC or just homegrown ideas at various institutions. In this day and age, there is a heightened awareness of practicing the the era of healthcare reform, and the associated re-focusing on healthcare spending, improving quality of care, and reducing health disparities.

In terms of changes, I would like to see medical schools be more thoughtful about their implementation of new teaching methods and technologies. It's so easy to want to do Problem-Based Learning, Flipped Classroom, Inter-Professional education, or other buzzwords, but sometimes schools do not take the time to ask themselves - How much extra work will this create for the students? What educational goals are we actually trying to accomplish? How can we integrate this into the current curriculum and not add an extra 2 hours of class each week for a "plenary session"?

What is your best study-tip for Medical School?

Find a group of friends you enjoy studying with. My "study buddies" came up with some of the best mnemonics and teaching aids, and being accountable to a group when it came to study topics really helped me stay on track.