Get ready to read about Otto Shill, a student at the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine (AZCOM) who is passionate about medicine (obviously), marketing, volunteering, and spending time with his wife and kids. Read on to hear about Otto’s med school adventure and for details about an upcoming pre-med conference he’s running through AZCOM’s Student Osteopathic Medical Association. Thanks Otto for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What is your favorite non-school book?
Otto: I grew up in Mesa, AZ, but I applied to medical school from Salt Lake City, UT. I studied Management at Brigham Young University with an emphasis in Marketing.
My favorite non-school book is The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. His lecture helped inspire me to reach for my dreams and pursue a second career in medicine. Clayton Christensen’s series of books on disruptive innovation come in a close second.
Accepted: What is your favorite thing about the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine (AZCOM)? Least favorite thing?
Otto: I am nearing the end of my second year in medical school. I love learning about the human body, and how it works. I think AZCOM does an amazing job of helping us learn important concepts and integrate them across disciplines. With rotations only a few months away, I am confident that I will be prepared to contribute as a member of the health care team. Plus, my classmates are all out to help each other. Everyone is “gunning” to get ahead, but we’re all trying to take our classmates with us. We share study aides, notes from meetings with professors, and tutor each other.
Least favorite? I spend time with my family every day, but I wish I had more time with my sweet wife and two beautiful children.
Accepted: As a second year med student, can you share some advice to incoming med students? What are some things you wish you would have known before you began your medical studies?
Otto: This is the hardest thing you will ever do, and that’s a good thing. Before coming to medical school, I had stalled in my personal growth. The challenges of medical school have pushed me beyond my self-imposed limits and opened a world of possibility. Freeing yourself from the limits that tell you what you are capable of positions you to impact the world beyond the exam room. Today’s healthcare environment yearns for leaders who can go far beyond what we have already tried in search of disruptive innovation.
The end of each semester signifies the point in time where you should be able to integrate the concepts covered in class into an overall approach to problem solving (not a time to purge everything you crammed in). Medical students are critical thinkers, and doctors even more so (no, the patients don’t read the textbook to know what their symptoms are supposed to be!).
So many exams on our way to medical school (I’m looking at you MCAT) were about understanding the mechanics and strategy of the test or professor. Now, exams are an important way to measure your progress toward saving lives. Everything you learn, even if it isn’t directly related to your specialty of choice, prepares you to take decisive action to the benefit of your patients.
Accepted: Can you talk about the connection between your interest in marketing and your passion for medicine? How do you see these two areas coming together in your future?
Otto: Of course, every patient encounter leans on my marketing background since patient compliance holds equal importance to an effective treatment plan.
I am an entrepreneur at heart. After graduating from the Marriott School of Management, I joined a technology startup company to gain first-hand experience with building a company from the ground up. Though I worked for the marketing department, I gained broad experience with and exposure to market research, product development, management strategy, and many other core components of a successful business. I collaborated with and spent time learning from our engineers, sales team, and senior management.
As I grow in medicine, I am constantly evaluating processes, delivery models, tools, and other components of healthcare to determine how to use my experience to deliver disruptive approaches and technology to the industry. In my opinion, the time is right for the birth of a new approach to healthcare. In combination with my medical degree, I hope to leverage my professional experience to develop solutions that will define the healthcare environment for my children and grandchildren.
Accepted: Can you tell us about your role as president of the AZCOM chapter of the Student Osteopathic Medical Association? What sorts of activities do you do?
Otto: The Student Osteopathic Medical Association plays a key role in the professional development and community involvement of student physicians. SOMA activities complement the classroom experience by exposing students to the less-scientific side of medicine.
For example, SOMA AZCOM is sponsoring a Pre-Med conference March 7-8, 2014, in conjunction with Midwestern University, AT Still University, and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine to help pre-med students from across the country learn why they should become a physician and how to do it. We have planned two days packed with opportunities for prospective students to interact with practicing physicians, medical school deans, and admissions officers representing 15 Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.
Adrienne White-Faines, MPH, Executive Director and CEO of the American Osteopathic Association will be our keynote speaker at the event. Her remarks will be complemented by Robert Orenstein, DO, Editor in Chief for the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association and Division Chair of Infectious Disease at Mayo Clinic Arizona; and by Connie Mariano, MD, President of the Center for Executive Medicine and former physician to 3 sitting US Presidents. The deans from the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine and the AT Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona will offer additional perspective on choosing Osteopathic Medicine as a career.
One unique thing about our event is that high school students, parents, significant others, and spouses are invited to attend. Pursuing a career in medicine isn’t something you can do alone. You need a strong support network when you embark on this journey. The more they know, the better they can support you!
The MWU/ATSU Pre-Med Conference Presented by SOMA is the premiere opportunity for prospective students to understand Osteopathic Medicine and get excited about a future career as physicians. Students have registered to attend from all over the country: New York, Michigan, Utah, California and more. We hope you will be able to join us too. Visit www.midwestern.edu/azpremed for more information or to register or see the conference program flier here: http://www.midwestern.edu/Documents/MWU_ATSU%20Pre-Med%20Conference%202014%20Final.pdf.
Accepted: What are some highlights of your volunteer history? What role does volunteering play in your life?
Otto: Every dream I have realized is an achievement I share with friends, family, mentors and others who have supported me along the way. Giving my time to improve opportunities for others is an important component of true success.
Volunteering as a medical interpreter gave me a chance to get directly involved in healthcare before medical school. Working with people who didn’t speak the same language as their physician showed me the importance of clear and effective communication between patient and doctor.
Living in Mexico as a missionary for two years also helped me develop a lot of respect for people with different cultures and empathy for people from abroad living in the US. We have much to learn from others if we will look past the artificial and cultural barriers.
Accepted: Can you share your top 3 medical school application tips?
Otto: (1) Be yourself. Everyone says it. Everyone means it. No one believes it. Admissions committees don’t want to admit the perfect student, they really do want to get to know and admit you.
(2) Write a lot. Between personal statements and responses to different secondary application questions I wrote more than one hundred essays while applying to medical school. Working through so many different versions helped me understand myself and refine my reasons for applying to medical school.
(3) Start early, but don’t give up even if you’re behind. I applied late in the cycle and was accepted on my first try. The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese! 🙂
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