How Osmosis Scholarship Winner Tyler Thorne "Starts With the Heart"
Published on Feb 27, 2020. Updated on Sep 15, 2020.
All six of the Osmosis Health Education Impact Scholarship winners have been announced! Today, we're sharing an interview with Grand Prize Winner Tyler Thorne, who plans to start with the heart and make clinical care more accessible for rural populations in his home of Hawaiʻi.
In November, Osmosis hosted our inaugural scholarship competition. We asked students across the United States to record videos explaining how they plan to embody one of the six Osmosis values in their clinical practice. Six winners were chosen to receive one of five $1000 prizes, or a single grand prize of $5000.
The winner of this year’s grand prize is Tyler Thorne, a second-year medical student at the John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaiʻi. He chose to Start With the Heart, and plans to open a clinic to serve the rural population of his home community.
We reached out to Tyler with some questions to learn more of his story. Check out his full video on our scholarship page, or scroll down to the bottom of this article to watch it!
How did you hear about the Osmosis Health Education Impact Scholarship?
What was your Osmosis Scholarship application process like?
Honestly, I was a little intimidated to apply because it was a video submission. But my girlfriend encouraged me to apply and it was actually really simple and straightforward. Probably the hardest part was taping my phone to the back of a chair to get the perfect shot!
It’s clear that you start with the heart, but if you had to choose another Osmosis Value, which one would you pick, and why?
That's a tough one! All of Osmosis values are things we should strive for as physicians or healthcare workers. I like the Reach Further value, as it encourages us to reach our maximum potential. It is a really inspiring goal to work hard and focus on becoming the best version of yourself, but what is even more valuable is when you are able to apply that value to helping others reach their full potential. Osmosis strives for that with their educational focus and scholarships. I hope to help inspire a few high school students to become physicians through the pre-medical program I am trying to set up at Honoka'a High School (mentioned in my video).
What’s it like being a medical student in Hawaiʻi?
Going to school in Hawaiʻi is pretty great. Our school is right next to the ocean, which can be a bit of a tease when you are studying hard for an exam. It is also great obviously for the beaches, but pretty much everyday is a perfect day to go on a hike to some beautiful waterfall or going diving. I am not a surfer but a lot of my friends bring their boards to school and will catch a few waves before or after class.
Going to school in Hawaiʻi is also really amazing because a lot of the patients we see as medical students are so friendly and they constantly want to help us become the best doctors we can. I think we can attribute this to the "Aloha Spirit" of Hawaiʻi. Also, a shameless plug for my school (John A. Burns School of Medicine), but we have a lot of awesome programs that I don't think I would have ever been able to have anywhere else. For example, we can do a part of our curriculum on a rural neighboring island and apply for summer internships all across the Pacific (I went to Palau)!
If you could do one thing different on your journey to medical school, what would you change?
I honestly wouldn't change anything. I did spend a few years trying different things and working odd jobs to survive and they were great experiences to have going forward. But If I had to go back, I would have explored the medical field earlier in my life. In high school I had an interest in becoming a physician but I wasn't really sure on the "how" or even "what" that meant. It wasn't until after I graduated from college and my mom was diagnosed with cancer did I really dedicate myself to figuring those steps out. I shadowed several physicians and that solidified it for me. However, I think if I would have explored earlier I might have had a more direct route to medical school.
What advice do you have to give aspiring health professionals in rural areas?
I remember I had a mandatory meeting with my counselor in high school and when I told her I wanted to go to college she told me "the hotels are hiring." (In Hawaiʻi, tourism is a big industry and it's pretty much where everyone works after high school—nothing like having your dreams crushed by an advisor). It's a tough road but my advice is to ignore the naysayers. If being a physician is what you really want, believe in yourself and then just work hard.
At times it might seem that the odds are stacked against you: there might not be as many providers to shadow, there might be fewer opportunities in small rural schools, not to mention the financial burden of college and medical school. But, you can certainly overcome these challenges. There might be only one physician in town and they would probably be thrilled to have someone interested in medicine shadow them.
As far as school goes, work hard and study for the SAT or ACT. Just getting to college is the biggest step. From there, you will have opportunities to explore the sciences in college and there will be a bigger community where you can shadow other medical specialists.
One final note is to stay true to your motivating reasons for wanting to become a health professional; those are the things you can cling to when you doubt yourself. They are also the things that set you apart in personal statements!
How does it feel to have won the Osmosis Health Education Impact Scholarship? Anyone you want to shout-out or give thanks to?
I was really shocked when I found out that I won! It is a great feeling that Osmosis chose me, and by extension, supported my efforts to give back to rural communities. I am also excited to announce that I am taking a group of medical students to Honoka'a High School in April. This will hopefully be the first of many pre-health events!
I know I talked about the naysayers previously, but I would not have made it this far without the support of several teachers in high school who did encourage me to go to college, and then a few professors who helped push me to strive for more while I was in college. Also, I have to give credit to my mom and family for continually supporting me. Finally, I want to thank my girlfriend for convincing me to apply to the Osmosis scholarship in the first place and editing through the multiple takes to help me make a winning video.
How has COVID-19 impacted your studies, and what advice do you have for students navigating these circumstances?At the onset of COVID-19, Hawai'i enacted a mandatory quarantine. The timing of this lined up with our school's "dedicated study time" for Step 1, so fortunately it didn’t impact my clinical rotations significantly. However, studying for Step 1 or probably anything is difficult during quarantine. The two years prior I studied almost exclusively at school and really designated my time there for studying. For the first few days of quarantine I struggled to focus at home: it was easy to get distracted and start scrolling through Instagram or check the fridge for a third time. I knew I needed to make a change so I created a study schedule/daily to-do list, set up an isolated work-space, and physically distanced myself from my phone. Having a daily sense of purpose and being separated from distractions helped me increase the quality of my studying and the amount of material I could review.
Another struggle with quarantine was the lack of physical activity; I usually go to the gym several times a week, so the gym closures were driving me a little insane. I set up a routine of going for a walk or run as soon as I woke up and then doing body weight exercises in the afternoon as a study break. My focus and overall well-being really improved as this really helped break down the monotony of doing hundreds of flashcards or multiple question blocks.
Finally, if the social isolation is getting to you, get some face-time with family or friends, whether that’s online or at a two-meter distance outside. I did not do this, but I know some friends who set up group study sessions online.
Tyler Thorne is a 2nd year medical student at John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. He is originally from Waimea, Hawai'i. He is interested in specializing in surgery. When Tyler isn't studying, he spends his time hiking, scuba diving, and traveling.
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