Osmosis News

How Osmosis Scholarship Winner Victor Pereira Starts With the Heart as a Future Physician Assistant

Osmosis Team
Published on Dec 21, 2020. Updated on Dec 15, 2020.

We’re pleased to shine a spotlight on Osmosis’s caring community of future health professionals this week with interviews with all six of our 2020 Osmosis Health Education Impact Scholarship winners! Today, meet winner Victor Pereira, a PA student at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Victor’s application showed us how he plans to embody the Osmosis value “Start With the Heart”in his clinical practice. Check out Victor’s 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? 

I first heard about the Osmosis Health Education Impact Scholarship through our Program Director who received the information from an Osmosis team member and dispersed it through our listserv. I feel grateful for my school’s attention to financial aid!

What was your Osmosis Scholarship application process like? 

I likely spent about two-thirds of my time understanding the history and values of Osmosis, chewing on the essay questions, deliberating on the value that resonated with me, and outlining how I would make my visions come to life. During this time, the video planning process challenged me the most as I had little experience with it.

I spent the rest of my time writing, editing, and filming the video. I cannot thank my wife enough for helping me with the equipment and motivating me as I filmed countless takes!

It’s clear that you embody the value of Start With the Heart, but if you had to choose another Osmosis Value, which one would you pick, and why? 

If I had to choose another Osmosis value, I would pick Open Your Arms. Just like Osmosis welcomes all learners and makes learning medicine simple, I believe the best healthcare providers welcome all patients and make giving medicine simple.

Just by genuinely listening to the needs of each and every human being, we open our arms to people as healers. However, to make ourselves accessible as medical providers also means knowing how to guide our patients through their hardships with clarity. Medicine inherently challenges even the most experienced practitioners. The breadth and depth of our knowledge still pales in comparison to what we do not know yet. With this in mind, we must strive to make our patient education, counseling, and resources as simple as possible so that we help patients at all levels of health literacy. To open my arms, I plan on constantly exploring new ways to help my future patients understand their healthcare plans.

How can the US healthcare system better accommodate patients who don’t speak English as a primary language? 

Certified medical interpreters (CMIs) serve as anchors and guides for patients who do not speak English as a primary language. However, the ratio of interpreters to patients does not currently meet the demands of the US Healthcare system. Ideally, a push for more funding from federal and state government officials as well as hospital/clinic administrators would help to support more CMIs. 

Without clear and medically accurate communication between patients and providers, the likelihood of erroneous practice, unnecessary expenditure, and poor patient satisfaction increases. By bolstering the availability of CMIs and providing incentives for healthcare workers to learn medical Spanish, the US Healthcare system will not only help non-English speakers, but also itself.

You mentioned that, when you’re a full-fledged PA, you wanted to support scholarship funds that support immigrants who want to pursue higher education. What charities and organizations in this area do you recommend for Osmosis learners who might want to help out with a donation? 

Through some of my personal research, I have found some incredible charities and organizations that work to support immigrants pursuing higher education. These include: The National Hispanic Health Foundation, The Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Physician Assistants for Latino Health, The National Association of Hispanic Nurses, and the P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans.

If you could do one thing different on your journey to PA school, what would you change? 

I did not realize the importance of staying hungry for knowledge until I started studying medicine in PA school. That hunger should start from the moment a person decides they want to practice medicine! During my time as a Nursing Assistant, I gained some incredible patient care experience that I knew would help me get through the PA admissions door. However, after working hundreds of hours, I became complacent with my role. I wish I could see then what I see now: every day as a healthcare worker provides new opportunities to learn for those who seek them. 

I would encourage any pre-healthcare student to talk to their experienced teammates and supervisors often and express a strong interest in learning new, challenging things. This can lead to some experiences that will help shape bedside manner early, help gain exposure to different procedures, and may even help garner a great letter of recommendation.


How does it feel to have won an Osmosis Health Education Impact Scholarship? Anyone you want to shout-out or give thanks to? 

Having a place as an Osmosis Scholarship winner makes me feel even more confident in my abilities to graduate and become a compassionate Physician Assistant. PA School has challenged me in ways I did not expect. Impostor syndrome affects so many students at this level of education and responsibility, including myself. Winning this scholarship has helped me to remember that I do belong here and that I can make a difference for patients.

I also feel ecstatic because this scholarship will help my wife and I as a family! When I heard the news, I made it clear to her that this is a victory for both of us, especially in light of her unwavering support and technical help along the way. Kennedy, you deserve it all!

How has COVID-19 impacted your studies, and what advice do you have for students navigating these circumstances?

COVID-19 has definitely taken a toll on my studies. Virtual learning can prove difficult, especially for somebody with a learning disability. For myself, the biggest challenge comes from the lack of a physical, traditional classroom setting. When a student can see the professor in front of them and everyone around them takes notes, it feels like a familiar learning environment. However, not having that environment can distract some students.

To the students struggling to learn during COVID-19, I can offer two pieces of advice. The first: if you cannot leave home and have trouble focusing, put on a professional outfit. Seriously! This has helped me tremendously as it forces me to get into a “work mode”, especially at home where sweats will put me to sleep. The second piece of advice: reach out to your school’s learning center if they have one. Learning coaches know the difficulty of virtual learning, they can show you the way if you give it a good-faith effort!

About Victor

Víctor Mauricio Pereira studies at the Wake Forest School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program. Powering through the first 6 months of school during a global pandemic has had its ups and downs. Thankfully, he has incredible classmates, friends, and family to support him along the way. Victor cannot wait to explore psychiatry, neurology, cardiology, and palliative care next year during clinical rotations. For fun, he loves traveling, spending time outdoors, and exploring music. Fun fact: San Francisco is his favorite city!

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Interested in applying for the Osmosis Health Education Impact Scholarship? As part of the process, we ask for a video telling us how you plan to embody one of the six Osmosis values in your clinical practice. You just might win one of six scholarships on offer: one $5,000 prize and five $1,000 scholarships are available. Applications will reopen in 2021!