This Med Student Took a Leave of Absence and Started Osmosis

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This Med Student Took a Leave of Absence and Started Osmosis

Session 207

In this week’s episode, I talk with Shiv Gaglani, co-founder of Osmosis, a project/business looking to append how medical information is disseminated online. Shiv talks about his journey to medical school as well as leaving medical school to start Osmosis, how this has led him to where he is right now, and the things they envision moving forward.

I also chat with Tanner Marshall, who previously worked for Khan Academy Medicine and is now a Video Curriculum Developer at Osmosis.

Osmosis is an educational platform that had over 65,000 users and 670,000 views on YouTube at the time of this recording, along with millions of views on Wikipedia. (They are the largest provider of videos to Wikipedia.) Update: They’re up to 41 million Youtube views in 2019, and their website now boasts that over “600,000 future clinicians rely on Osmosis”!

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

Shiv’s story of being a medical student and non-medical student:

His early years:

  • Being in a family of medical professionalsshiv-gaglani-headshot
  • Growing up in South Africa and getting exposed to medicine following his dad to the hospital and playing soccer with patients
  • Moving to Florida at 6 years old

His journey to medical school:

  • Got in at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
  • Took a leave of absence after two years of being there
  • Already intended to take time off after his 3rd year to do business school but decided to do it after 2nd year

Shiv met co-founder Ryan Haynes and started working on Osmosis when they both decided to take time off after the pre-clinical curriculum, before clinical rotations.

Shiv’s thought process behind entering medical school and then leaving:

  • Initially treading along the MD/PhD track because of his love of research
  • The main issue: Seeing the way medicine is delivered
  • Realizing the amount of research available that isn’t translated into practice

The goal behind Osmosis:

  • Originally started as a platform at Johns Hopkins that Shiv and his classmates used to answer questions in their curriculum and help them overcome death by PowerPoint.
  • Hearing that student from other schools wanted similar tools, private groups, and collaboration, they started to take it more seriously and scale it.
  • Within a year, they launched a mobile app that let more people join, growing the community to 5,000 students.
  • They joined a tech incubator that helped them scale better.
  • They received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to develop really great questions, flashcards, and videos (this is where the guys from Khan Academy came in).

What Osmosis does:

  • Osmosis is a tech platform that allows students to input their curricula into private groups and crowdsource material, as well as to uniquely recommend other content.
  • It focuses on a strong content component targeting medical students.
  • Many medical schools now officially use the platform.
  • Offers high-quality content made simple for medical students.

Tanner Marshall on creating Khan Academy Medicine

Tanner’s background:

  • Did a master’s degree on top of his bachelor’s in biomedical engineering.tanner-marshall-headshot
  • Right after graduation, he started working for a company doing pacemaker animatronics.
  • Worked at Khan Academy Medicine doing cardio content initially, then other topics.
  • Khan Academy decided not to fund any more health content, so Rishi (now Chief Medical Officer at Osmosis) moved over to Osmosis and invited his colleagues to join him.

More about Open Osmosis

The kind of content produced at Osmosis:

  • High-yield visual information
  • Short modules (less than 10 mins): The shorter, the better
  • More videos produced every month
  • Always getting more collaborators and sponsors
  • Translated into different languages

Their mission:

The mission of Osmosis is to convey high-quality medical information to anyone (medical students, pharmacy students, nursing students, veterinary students, and even patients).

The future of medical school is going in the direction of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).

Some pieces of advice for premed students:

Don’t be afraid of pursuing whatever you’re interested in. Start exploring whatever interests you, and take advantage of opportunities as they come.

Two questions to keep yourself in check:

  1. Do you enjoy what you’re doing right now?
  2. Can you see yourself enjoying doing it 6 months from now?
It's okay if your path has zig zags or digressions. Follow your interests in multiple fields, and you'll be able to make connections not everyone can.Click To Tweet

Links and Other Resources