Osmosis Team Spotlight: Dr. Maddison Caterine, Director of Curriculum
Published on Jun 26, 2020. Updated on Sep 15, 2020.
It’s been a while since we spotlighted one of our Osmosis teammates! Today, we’re introducing you to Dr. Maddison Caterine, who you may have met last summer when she was hosting our “How to Ace Med School & the USMLE®” webinar series! As Director of Curriculum at Osmosis. Dr. Caterine is responsible for overseeing the process of curriculum development for MD/DO, PA, NP starting from content organization, learning objective creation, then turning this into our videos, questions, and High-Yield Notes.
(Editor’s note: Part of this interview took place right before the COVID-19 pandemic: we’re excited to finally be able to highlight Maddy’s achievements at Osmosis today!)
Hi Maddy! Great to talk with you. To start things off, can you provide a bit of information about your early life and education? Did you always want to be a doctor?
I grew up in Burlington, Ontario, Canada, which is a city about 45 minutes outside of Toronto. When I was younger I always thought I was going to be a teacher, but as I made my way through high school, I decided I wanted to be a doctor. I completed my undergraduate degree in Health Sciences at Western University in London, Ontario. After my undergraduate degree, I decided to stay at Western to do my masters degree in Clinical Anatomy, a program designed to train anatomy educators. We completed a year of anatomy, histology, embryology, and neuroanatomy courses followed by a year of research. During this program, we also had extensive teaching training, where I was able to be a teaching assistant for medical, dental, undergraduate science, nursing, occupational therapy, and physiotherapy students; give guest lectures; and take teaching training courses. This allowed me to earn the Western Certificate in University Teaching and Learning.
The masters program sparked my passion for teaching, and I became conflicted about what I wanted to do. I decided to take the year off and travel. I had the opportunity to work as an anatomy laboratory instructor at American University of the Caribbean (AUC) in St. Maarten as well as at Ross University School of Medicine in Dominica, and took a couple months to go backpacking through Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. After this year off, I thought that I still wanted to be a doctor. I was accepted at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) in Dublin.
When did you decide to pursue medical education as a career?
RCSI is a fantastic school, and I loved learning the theoretical foundations of medicine; however, I realized that I didn’t enjoy clinical practice. I was still constantly gravitating towards teaching and mentorship opportunities, such as peer-led tutoring, getting my Program for Improvement in Medical Education (PRIME) certification, and participating in RCSI’s medical curriculum redesign project. I completed my US and Canadian board examinations, completed my clinical electives (mostly in Family Medicine), and was beginning my residency applications, when I realized I needed to take a step back and think about the career I wanted. I ultimately decided that I had worked too hard not to pursue a career I was truly passionate about: medical education.
How did you find out about Osmosis?
When I had decided to change my career path and move towards medical education, I had no idea what my career was going to look like. It was a bit scary, because I didn’t really know what opportunities were out there, whether it be in academia or industry. At the same time, all of my classmates had found out where they were going to be going for residency, which made me feel a bit lost. I was actually on Facebook, and had noticed that an RCSI student in the year below had posted an Osmosis video for their classmates to watch. I decided to take a look at the platform, and was so impressed by their ability to provide in-depth information while remaining approachable and enjoyable for students. I knew that Osmosis was the type of organization that I could see myself being a part of, and found out that they were hiring from their careers page.
What’s a typical “day in the life” when you’re working for Osmosis?
What I love about my role at Osmosis is that there is no typical “day in the life”. As the Director of Curriculum, I get to figure out what we want to teach, for example, anatomy. It is my job to design the curriculum outline, and prepare learning objectives so that the script writers and illustrators know exactly what we want our students to learn in each video. It is also my role to help revamp our videos so they are always current with the most up-to-date information and guidelines. I also get to be involved in the assessment side, overseeing the question writing team, led by our new Question Writing Lead, Dr. Marina Horiates. They’re currently working super hard to revamp our question banks, including great explanations with images and charts, so they can be used in conjunction with our videos to supplement their learning. I also get to be a part of many other tasks throughout the organization, and get to work across many different teams!
What are some of your favorite Osmosis videos?
I am extremely excited about our High Yield Pathology series! I remember what it was like studying for the USMLE Step 1, especially as someone studying outside of the United States. As we were creating this series, I kept thinking, “I wish I had this when I was studying for the Step!” My absolute favorites in this series are the following (click the image to visit the Playlist!):
You may have noticed that they are mostly Cardiovascular system, Hematological system, and Renal system videos, since those were always the toughest topics for me while I was studying!
When we interviewed you in Milwaukee last year, you picked “Open Your Arms” as your favorite Osmosis value. If you were to pick a different value, what would you have chosen?
I would definitely pick “Start With the Heart”, as I see this value in action almost every day while working at Osmosis! One example was when my brother’s daughter had a health scare (she is great now!), I had mentioned it only to our CEO (Shiv Gaglani) and CMO (Dr. Rishi Desai) because I needed to take a couple days off to help out. Despite being so busy in their own lives, they took the time to send my brother and his wife a card from the Osmosis team. These small acts of kindness are seen every single day at Osmosis, and I feel so privileged that I get to work with such caring and compassionate people.
What’s your #1 tip for students who are studying for USMLE® Step 1 this year or next?
My number one tip would be to make a realistic study schedule and stick to it. Having a schedule makes you accountable to get your tasks done (i.e. finishing certain videos and questions); but even more importantly, you can schedule some time off to take care of yourself (i.e. go to the gym, relax, spend time with friends and family).
What advice do you have for medical students thinking about a career outside clinical practice?
Medicine is a challenging career, and there may be times where you are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. It’s important to distinguish these feelings from truly wanting a career outside of clinical practice. For example, it may be a matter of considering a different speciality that suits you better. Despite having the feeling that I didn’t enjoy clinical practice since the beginning of medical school, I still wanted to complete my board examinations, clinical rotations, and clinical electives prior to making any major career decisions. This allowed me to keep all of my options open, and feel confident that I was making the right decision for myself.
If you truly feel that clinical practice is not the right career path, then follow your instincts and do what is right for you. There are many rewarding careers outside of clinical practice where you can use your medical training: public health, advocacy for non-profit organizations, education (Osmosis!), research, healthcare management, and more! There are many clinicians that have chosen alternative pathways outside of clinical practice, and have had successful, enjoyable, and rewarding careers.
Finally, can you tell our readers a fun fact about yourself?
I got to complete my masters degree, teach anatomy in the Caribbean, and move to Ireland for medical school with my husband, Scott! We have been together for over 11 years, and have been married for three and a half years. We have actually known each other since we were 3-year-olds because our parents are friends. I have had the best study and travel partner! Scott is now working for Osmosis as an Osmosis Faculty Reviewer (OFR) for our anatomy series, and will be starting his residency at McMaster University in Diagnostic Radiology in July.
Thanks for speaking with us today, Maddy!
Thanks for spotlighting me!
Interested in working with people like Dr. Caterine and others on the Osmosis team? Check out our careers page to see our open positions. If you don’t see a posting that fits with your expertise, contact us anyway—we’re always looking to work with people who are passionate about providing the best learning experience possible!Try Osmosis today! Access your free trial and find out why millions of clinicians and caregivers love learning with us.