How Med Student at Weill Cornell Learns by Osmosis
Feb 1, 2019
Josh, a 2nd year medical student at Weill Cornell Medicine shares study tips, advice for first years, the most challenging and rewarding parts of med school, and his thoughts on medical education.
How did you discover Osmosis, and why did you want to get involved with it?
I discovered Osmosis serendipitously as I searched for YouTube videos to explain some points of confusion I had during my first year courses.
What advice would you give to incoming first years?
From a broader perspective, my advice would be to focus on the fun of learning rather than the anxiety of grades. You will be in the first year of a lifelong journey so take the time to enjoy friends, family, and new experiences. This is a very low-pressure, low-stakes time to explore what areas interest you the most. Study smarter not harder and become accustomed to the feeling of stepping beyond your comfort zone. Don’t compare yourself to your classmates as it will seem everyone is doing so much and you are never doing enough. You are doing enough. Remember that when life stresses you out, try to bring yourself back down to planet Earth, where you are just a human being learning to take care of other human beings.
More specifically, do not pre-study before starting medical school! You will be studying for the rest of your life! Travel to new exciting places, meet different people, dive into a hobby you love, or just hang out with close friends and family. I hate that many people give this advice as a warning that you will not be able to do any of these things during medical school. You will be able to do all of them, just not as much. But really, do not study ahead!
Why did you decide to pursue a career in medicine?
When I was 11 years old, my mom passed away from stage 4 breast cancer. She was originally misdiagnosed, leading to the progression of the disease beyond the utility of conventional therapy. I learned, on an intimately visceral level, how a diagnosis, an illness, and the process of dying itself can affect not just the patient, but those left behind. Since that time in my life, I felt a calling to be involved in caring for others suffering from an illness.
Later, I earned my PharmD and practiced as a pharmacist prior to going to medical school. I loved being my community’s pharmacist, the most accessible health care professional for patients! As time went on, however, I became obsessed with understanding the pathophysiology of diseases, invigorated by seeing patients make healthy lifestyle changes, and excited at the thought of guiding patient care from a more holistic perspective. I knew I had to go to medical school and find the niche I was truly passionate about.
What is your best study-tip?
Pick a few resources and stick with them! I got bogged down with “resource overload” during my first year, where it felt like every company was advertising how great their product was. It was the fear of missing out (FOMO), but for study resources! If you pick just a few resources and really commit to them, this will bring you much closer to your goals than spreading yourself too thin over a plethora of resources. Have confidence in your decisions and stick with them!
Josh shares tips on learning by Osmosis to study more efficiently and gain a deeper understanding of the material.
What’s been the most challenging part of your med school journey so far?
The most challenging part of my med school journey so far is combatting imposter syndrome. Despite having a background in pharmacy and making it into a good medical school, I still maintained the same self-doubts that have plagued me since middle school. The feelings have remained the same, only the setting has changed. The fear of the world finally realizing I’m a fraud has made medical school more stressful than it has to be.
I do my best to battle these entrenched thoughts. My efforts have led me to some great conversations with other medical students, interns, fellows, and even attending physicians. It turns out that many people, even successful professionals, experience imposter syndrome. I learned to embrace the feelings and use them to my advantage. It was a challenge to get to such a state of mind.
What’s been the most rewarding part of your med school journey so far?
The most rewarding part of my medical school journey so far is actually not a specific moment, but rather a recurring feeling I get when I sit down to dinner with my wife on Friday nights. I reflect on the week I had and all that I am grateful for. My wife and I have worked very hard to get to where we are. We both embrace the grind of life, the thrill of learning, and the excitement of the week to follow. When you are able to have this feeling consistently, you know you are in the right place. Indeed for me, the persistent happiness I feel in learning the art and science of medicine for the rest of my life has been the most rewarding aspect of medical school. Free coffee and muffins on Wednesdays also helps!
What tips do you have for undergraduate students currently applying to medical school?
Tips to undergrads: Yes, you have to play the game to get in. Do your research, participate heavily in extracurriculars, and study hard to achieve excellent grades. This will get you the interviews you so desperately desire. Once you get the interviews, it comes down to you as a person. So make sure you don’t let your self-development and humanity slip away from you in your undergraduate years. Now is the time to search and find your passions and write your story. These are the things you will be talking about during many med school interviews and these are the things that will earn you the sweet relief of a beautiful envelope containing your acceptance letter!
What changes would you like to see in medical education?
Medical schools need to embrace the science of learning. Spaced repetition and self-testing are at the forefront of effective learning and yet are hardly emphasized in medical school curriculums. The red tape at most medical schools prevents any significantly progressive changes from even being trialed. The fact that nearly every medical student is using third party resources as a major part of their study armamentarium is proof that medical schools are failing us as students. This needs to change.