This Med Student Took a Leave of Absence and started Osmosis


Session 207

tanner-marshall-headshot shiv-gaglani-headshot

In this week’s episode, Ryan talks 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.

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

Today, Osmosis is an educational platform with over 65,000 users, seeing an incredible growth of 670,000 views on YouTube and millions of views on Wikipedia (being the largest provider of videos to Wikipedia.) With the help of the grant they received, they have created and curated thousands of open educational resources to help students overcome a lot of misinformation about medicine out there.

Here are the highlights of the conversation with Shiv and Tanner:

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

His early years:

  • Being in a family of medical professionals
  • Growing up in South Africa and getting exposed to medicine following his had 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

Meeting co-founder Ryan Haynes and started working on Osmosis where both decided to take time off after the pre-clinical curriculum and before the clinical as their PhD version of business and entrepreneurship

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

  • 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 but they’re not translated into practice

The goal behind Osmosis:

  • Originally started as a platform at Johns Hopkins that Shiv and his classmates used to outsource questions based on their curriculum and overcoming death by PowerPoint.
  • Hearing student from other schools wanting 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 from 3-40 students to 5,000.
  • They joined a tech incubator that helped them scale better
  • Receiving a grant from the the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to develop really great questions, flashcards, and videos (where the guys from Khan Academy came in)

What Osmosis does:

  • A tech platform that allows people to input their curricula into private groups and crowdsource material as well as to uniquely recommend other content.
  • Focuses on a strong content component targeting medical students
  • The platform has now reached 65,000 medical students and 22 medical school officially use the platform
  • Offers high-quality content made simpler for medical students

Tanner’s background for creating Khan Academy Medicine

Tanner’s background:

  • Done a master’s degree on top of his bachelor’s in biomedical engineering
  • Right after graduation, he started working for a company doing pacemaker animatronics
  • Working at Khan Academy Medicine doing cardio content initially until doing other topics
  • Khan Academy decided not to fun 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:

Kind of content produced at Osmosis:

  • High-yield visual information
  • Short modules (less than 10 mins) of quick reviews – The shorter, the better
  • 150 topics covered
  • 10-20 videos produced every month
  • Getting more collaborators and sponsors
  • Translated into different languages

Their mission:

To convey high-quality medical information to anyone (medical students, pharmacy, nursing, vet, and even patients)

Where the future of medical school is going with the presence of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)

Some pieces of advice for premed students:

Don’t be afraid in what you’re interested in. Start making connections and explore what that looks like. Then 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 enjoy doing it 6 months from now?

Links and Other Resources:

If you’re interested in medical education, send them an email at [email protected]

Find all of their videos and check out Open Osmosis on YouTube

John Hopkins School of Medicine

Khan Academy Medicine



Dr. Ryan Gray: Have you entered to win yet? Session 208 is next week and that is our fourth anniversary here at The Premeds Years, and to celebrate four years I’m giving away a lot. I’m giving away coaching, and my interview course, and books, and a lot of other things. Go to to join.

This is The Premed Years, session number 207.

Hello and welcome to the two-time Academy Award nominated podcast, The Premed Years, where we believe that collaboration, not competition, is key to your premed success. I am your host Dr. Ryan Gray, and in this podcast we share with you stories, encouragement, and information that you need to know to help guide you on your path to becoming a physician.

Now this week I have the awesome opportunity to talk to two people that are involved in a project / business that is looking to upend how medical information is disseminated online, and they’re doing that through Open Osmosis which you can find at You’re going to hear all about Shiv and his journey to medical school including leaving medical school to start Osmosis, and how that has led him to where he is right now, and where they want to go with Open Osmosis.

A word of note before we jump in, the audio on this one for Shiv and Tanner, their audio is very echoey. I haven’t figured out why, but I apologize if it annoys you too much. But listen, it’s some great information, it’s really not that bad. Let’s jump in and say hi to Shiv and Tanner.

Shiv and Tanner, thanks for joining me here at The Premed Years.

Shiv Gaglani: Thanks for having us.

Tanner Marshall: Yeah, thanks for having us.

Shiv’s Medical Background

Dr. Ryan Gray: So Tanner I want to dig into your story in a little bit, but Shiv, I want to start with you. You are a medical student non-medical student. Explain to me first, why did you go to medical school? What is it that drew you to being a physician?

Shiv Gaglani: Yeah, it’s a good question. I was one of those people who that was their main career path I’d always envisioned, and largely because I had really early experience in the medical profession. My mom’s a physical therapist, my dad’s a retired general practitioner, and we- I grew up in South Africa for a few years and used to follow my dad to the hospital whenever we didn’t have a babysitter. And that’s where I got a lot of early exposure and kind of- I feel like I’m repeating my personal statement here, I had a really formative experience meeting with patients, and playing soccer with them in the courtyard of this hospital, and it just seemed like the best profession I could imagine. And then as I got into high school and college, you add the humanistic elements to the science. I’m ultimately at heart a science nerd, and I realized all of the research that you could do in medicine, and that’s what made me finally decide to actually pull the trigger and apply to med school. But as you can tell based on me just being on this podcast, I get a little distracted doing other things related to medicine, it’s all related to medicine, and that’s kind of how I’ve gone on this journey.

Dr. Ryan Gray: I want to ask about playing soccer with patients. That doesn’t sound like any hospital we have here in the states.

Shiv Gaglani: Yeah things were a little more fluid, at least where I was living near Durban in South Africa. Patients- many of these patients were- they had different conditions that it didn’t enable them. For example there were some people who had- I remember one of my friends had an arm amputation from an accident when he was young, we were both four years old, four or five years old I think at the time. And so obviously soccer is big, soccer and cricket were actually really big down there, and rugby, and so wound up just making friends with some of the patients who were my age while my dad was working, and many times we’d go into the courtyard and just play those games.

Dr. Ryan Gray: That’s awesome. So were you- are you an international student here? Are you a US citizen now?

Shiv Gaglani: Yeah so actually when I was six we moved to Florida, and so I actually- most of my formative years were spent in Florida and I got naturalized as a citizen fifteen years ago, and that opened up obviously a lot of opportunities being a naturalized citizen here.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah definitely helps applying to medical school, which you did apply to medical school, and you did get in. Talk to me, what was one of the hardest things about applying for and getting accepted into medical school?

Shiv Gaglani: I think there’s a lot of stress and pressure related to the applications, largely from peers who are going through the same thing. I think there’s obviously a lot of misinformation that goes out there, and obviously one reason you created this excellent resource is because you want to help students overcome a lot of that misinformation and interviewing people who have done it who can hopefully assuage them that things will work out. And so I think the hardest thing for me was in terms of like deciding what would be the best fit. I did kind of- I was one of those traditional students who looked at the US News and World Report rankings and went by that, and it took a lot more maturity to decide actually what would make the most sense in terms of fit for what my goals are.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah and if you’re listening to this, my stance on the US News and World Report is to ignore it, so don’t use that to pick your schools. But maybe you know that at this point.

Shiv Gaglani: I learned that the hard way, yup.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah it’s crazy the information that goes into that, just how subjective it is. But anyway, it sells magazines.

Shiv Gaglani: Exactly.

Dr. Ryan Gray: So you’re at Hopkins, correct?

Shiv Gaglani: Correct, yeah.

The Decision to Leave Medical School

Dr. Ryan Gray: So great medical institution, I’m sure anybody listening to this would die to go there. You decided after two years to leave there and take a little leave of absence. How did that decision process go to say, ‘You know what? I’m going to take a break.’

Shiv Gaglani: Yeah it’s actually getting to be more common. So I had the benefit of having- there were students a couple years ahead of us at Hopkins who had taken time off to launch companies as well, and- you know taking one year off to do a tech incubator and see what they can do. For me it was a little easier because I’d already intended to take time off after my third year and go to business school. And so instead of doing it after the third year, I decided to do it after the second year, and because my first year of medical school I met my co-founder Ryan, and we started working on Osmosis, and then eventually decided to both take time off and launch it officially, it just was kind of a no-brainer to do it after our pre-clinical curriculum was over and before the clinical so we could really focus on it sort of like doing an MD PhD, and that’s how I describe it to everyone. It’s like my PhD version but completely focused on business and entrepreneurship.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah and they do have MD MBA programs as well. We talked to Aje a while ago about his MD MBA path. But you stated that you had the idea that you were going to take some time off anyway. Why did you have these desires to enter medicine, yet know that you were going to leave at some point?

Shiv Gaglani: Yeah, it’s a really good question. I think it boiled down to when I was in college I was planning to do MD PhD up until my senior year of college. MD PhD was my track because I loved research, and then when I really thought about it what I liked about research was impact and scalability. So I think medicine is obviously an awesome profession, and I still intend to go back and finish and become a practicing clinician; the main issue I saw was that there’s systemic issues with the way medicine is delivered, whether it’s not having a drug to treat a certain condition, or it’s actual delivery systems in place and how people use electronic records, that I thought people who focus on that are able to have a much greater impact in terms of it isn’t as personal, it isn’t one-on-one to the patient, but it’s a greater impact over a shorter period of time. And so that’s what appealed to me about research, and then I realized that what I like most- since I like impact the most, there’s a lot of research out there that already exists, for example in the context of osmosis, there’s a lot of learning science research that just has not translated into practice. And I thought that after talking with a lot of mentors, the MBA, the business route, and taking time off while I was in med school to pursue that training would help me better understand while I was in training and going through third and fourth year of med school, residency, et cetera, how to identify opportunities and solve them through the skills that I developed.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah, that’s awesome. I like that thinking because a while ago I interviewed the Dean of Admissions at UCF, the University of Central Florida- the Dean of the medical school, and she talked about kind of the three categories of dreamers at UCF. And the first one was the Mother Teresa person that took care of patients, and that’s more of the- kind of the worker bees, the physicians that are working every day. And then there were the Nobel Prize winners, the ones that are out curing cancer, and eliminating obesity, and having more of that global scale. And then that next level, she mentioned the sergeant general about just global health in general, and healthcare reform. And so you’re more on that top level of total reform and impact, and that’s kind of what I see myself doing here at The Premed Years too, is I could be out seeing patients, and one patient a day or whatever, or I could be helping the premeds get into school and having an exponential impact. So I definitely understand your thinking.

Shiv Gaglani: Exactly and actually when we go and start talking about some of the Open Osmosis stuff, my colleague Tanner who’s on here, actually didn’t even have to go to med school and he’s trained individually- more than 55,000 students have learned from him at least. And so being able to come in with a knack for science or medicine, and have such a global impact is something that I think now through Internet technologies, and you know just tech in general, you’re able to do without having to go through a really expensive and long process. And even though I intend to go back and finish med school, I know my co-founder is probably not going to do that, but he’s our CTO and is having a tremendous impact by building a natural platform that over 65,000 students are using right now.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah. So talk about Osmosis. What was your goal behind it, or what is your goal at this point?

Starting Open Osmosis

Shiv Gaglani: Yeah so when we started it was pretty much just a platform at Johns Hopkins that our classmates and I used to crowdsource questions based off our curriculum. So many med students, and you can relate to this when you were in med school, it’s almost like death by Powerpoint. We’re getting a ton of material thrown at us from many different professors and different resources, and we thought that there would be more effective ways to organize, and crowdsource- the quizzing of each other. So for example there were a group of twenty of us out of my class of 120, who in the first year at Johns Hopkins wrote something like 50,000 questions on flashcards to quiz each other on because our professors weren’t really giving us a lot of formative questions to answer. But then within a month of launching Osmosis at Hopkins, we started hearing from students at other schools who wanted similar tools and to be able to create private groups like we had at Osmosis, and collaborate with each other. So we started taking it more seriously and building it out and scaling it, and so within a year of starting it we actually launched a mobile app that let more people join. We went from 240 students at Hopkins to 5,000 and we joined a tech incubator that essentially helped us scale it further. But up until last year it was pretty much mostly a tech platform that allowed people to input their curricula into private groups and then crowdsource material, but also uniquely to recommend other content. So if you were a student at University of Arizona and you have a lecture on single cell anemia today, we’ll send you a video automatically on single cell anemia. We started realizing around that point when we built the recommendation system though, that recommendation systems are only as good as the content you have. And so the platform evolved into having a really strong content component, and that’s where Open Osmosis came into play. We got a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to develop really awesome questions, flashcards, and now videos, and that’s where the Kahn Academy of Medicine team came in and people like Tanner and Rishi decided to join us to develop that content.

Tanner’s Background with Khan Academy

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah. So Tanner, I think everybody listening to this knows what Khan Academy is. How did you- like where do you come into play here with your background to be creating content for Khan Academy of Medicine?

Tanner Marshall: Yeah that’s a great question. So when I graduated college I had done a Master’s degree right on top of my Bachelor’s in Biomedical Engineering, and right after graduating I moved out to Portland and started working for Biotronik which is similar to Medtronic, they do pacemakers and defibrillators, and I worked in the industry for a while and just kind of on the side I’d always just done a lot of design work just kind of for fun. But one of my good friends worked at Khan Academy in the math, and he just forwarded me an application to the medicine team, like they had some openings to do videos. And so basically I got brought on to do things in cardiology because that’s kind of where I was working. And so I started doing all the cardiology content for Khan Academy, and then that kind of snowballed into doing other- just branching out into other topics.

Dr. Ryan Gray: That’s awesome. And obviously Khan Academy is huge, why would you ever leave Khan Academy and go work for someone like Shiv?

Tanner Marshall: It was not by choice of whether or not- oh sorry Shiv. No like so what happened was I was just kind of cranking away doing my own thing, because I lived in Portland, Oregon at the time making videos and I was working with Rishi as well, and I just kind of caught wind that Khan Academy decided not to fund any more health content, they were just kind of like pulling the plug I guess. Probably just because they thought they had enough, and maybe they do, but that’s kind of what happened. And then one day we’re all working at Khan Academy kind of, and then the next day we weren’t. So after that, yeah that’s when Rishi moved over to Osmosis and sent kind of an email to the team at Khan Academy and was like, ‘Hey I’m going to Osmosis if anyone wants to join me.’ And so that’s- yeah and then I kind of contacted him and was like, ‘Hey I can keep making videos for Osmosis.’

Dr. Ryan Gray: Interesting. So I wonder how many people actually know that Khan Academy isn’t really making a lot of videos anymore for the medicine side of things. But good to know.

Shiv Gaglani: Sorry, I’ll interject too because that was one thing where Khan Academy really is doubling down on their K-12. As you probably know, Sal Khan started a school, his children are attending that school, it’s a physical school in addition to obviously the online Khan Academy. But what we also realized about Rishi- and just for context, Rishi is our Chief Medical Officer. He’s a pediatric infectious diseases attending at Stanford, and he really started Khan Academy Medicine from when he was working at the CDC and then joined that team and began the whole medicine and health program. We got connected because we both got grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and started talking about how medical education is different from say high school education which Khan Academy focuses on, and we did learn a lot of lessons from the Khan Academy in terms of how to convey content more efficiently and more concisely for medicine. And I think we’ve learned a lot of lessons from them that we’ve taken- actually I think we’re growing faster than Khan Academy Medicine ever grew in terms of the numbers of subscribers we get every day on our YouTube channel, and we also have partnerships that I think are pretty unique. All of our videos now are going onto Wikipedia, and that’s largely because- as you may have noticed Ryan, we’re We license our content on under a less restrictive license than even the Khan Academy does, which is why our content has diffused to more places and keeping with the osmosis theme.

Video Creation at Open Osmosis

Dr. Ryan Gray: So talk about Open Osmosis for a minute, Shiv. Who exactly are you targeting with this content, and what is the content? We haven’t really talked about that. What sort of videos are you making?

Shiv Gaglani: So I’ll start with just the high level and then let Tanner go into specifics because he’s made pretty much all the videos at this point. From a high level we wanted to basically target medical students. In Osmosis the platform has now reached 65,000 medical students and 22 medical schools officially use the platform. We kept hearing from students who wanted better high quality content, and also not to pay- not to break their bank for the content. You know there’s obviously a lot of great resources out there; there’s Pathoma, there’s [Inaudible 00:18:53] on audio, but we realize that a lot of these things- even Pathoma are really long lectures, they’re like twenty to forty minute lectures. He explains things extremely well but they’re still like long and not very good for quick reviews right before say exams or whatnot. And so we wanted to make things even simpler for medical students, but in the process we’ve actually realized that nursing, PA, pharmacy, dentistry students are using Osmosis, even veterinary students, and most surprisingly patients and their families, and that’s actually been really an exciting development. I’ll let Tanner talk about specifically what content we produce, how he produces the content, and maybe your reactions, Tanner, to the fact that now patients are using this stuff as well.

Tanner Marshall: Yeah, so- well so like it started with just a basic review. Like we basically look at like all the main points, the high yield so called points of information for med students, and then I try to hit them all in one video, but then also- I think also what I try to do is to make it visual enough for the average viewer to see it and know how something works whether or not- like they don’t have to get stuck in the weeds with all the details, but to have a video that kind of caters to both while at the same time gives that information to med students to review. That’s essentially what we’re going for in our small modules, like I really try not to hit ten minutes. At that point, I mean you really see a drop off in viewership, and so the shorter the better we kind of go for, and so they’re a really quick review. But that’s essentially what we’re trying to go for.

Dr. Ryan Gray: What’s your favorite system to work on?

Tanner Marshall: You mean like software?

Dr. Ryan Gray: No like favorite body systems. We’re talking to students here, premed students.

Tanner Marshall: Yeah I thought that was an interesting question. Let’s see, well I’ve been pretty thick into renal right now, almost done with that. I did cardiology. Genetics actually has been pretty interesting, just because it’s so broad, like each genetic syndrome can be like completely different. So I’ve enjoyed making those recently, and we have a pretty awesome script writer that does a really good job with research, and he’s also in the field so he’s written some pretty great scripts and I think overall those are probably the most interesting to do.

Dr. Ryan Gray: That’s great. Shiv, where do you see Open Osmosis going?

Future of Open Osmosis

Shiv Gaglani: You know I think we- we’ve covered over 150 topics I believe now Tanner, and the team produces ten to twenty videos a month, and we’re working to make even more. What’s really interesting too is that we’ve started getting more collaborators and sponsors, so we work with Kaiser Permanente, we work with Rush Medical College, now the American Board of Medical Specialties, Merck Manual, and there are a number in the pipeline who basically love the mission that we have and are helping us create more videos by helping pay for some of these video production costs that we have. We like to cover hundreds, if not over a thousand videos, and in the process we reach not only, as I said medical students, because Osmosis- we don’t get up every day really excited about helping somebody get five points higher on STEP; we do that, that’s a side effect of what we do, and it’s more than five points generally when somebody actually uses the system. But what excites us is conveying really high quality medical information to anyone, right? Not just medical students as I mentioned, but pharmacy, nursing, vet, and patients and their families, and that’s probably one of the most gratifying things for me. I mean Tanner, what are your thoughts on kind of where you see it going given that again, you produce 99% of the videos at this point?

Tanner Marshall: Yeah I mean I would love to see- I think the whole open part of it is probably the coolest thing just because like you see a lot of these resources and they’re behind sort of pay walls and it’s cool to have everything just totally freely available, and even if you want to download it and read- use it in some way, the creative commons license covers it. So it’s cool that I feel like we’re just kind of continuing Khan Academy’s mission, or at least I am on the content side, which was one of my favorite parts of being with them, so it’s awesome to be able to keep contributing that. So I don’t know, it would be awesome to have almost like an online freely available textbook of videos to just go through an entire course. I think that would be really cool.

Shiv Gaglani: Maybe even like an online medical school, right? For the first two years given how expensive these programs are to attend now. And one thing I’ll just follow up on is the growth we’ve already achieved I think is pretty incredible. Ryan, we’ll send you a chart. In January the entire month we had 5,000 total views on YouTube. This month we just wrapped up October, we had 670,000 views for the month of October. So we’re seeing like 10,000+% growth rates, and now we’re 54,000 subscribers on our YouTube channel as I mentioned, and then you can add like another million or so views from Wikipedia which is cool. So I would say we’re continuing part of what Khan Academy started, but even broadening it because as I mentioned I think at this point we’re the largest provider of videos to Wikipedia because of our non-restrictive license that lets them use the content as well.

Online Medical Schools

Dr. Ryan Gray: That’s great. I want to- you mentioned something about this online medical school. With the power of the Internet, and YouTube, and everything else that has come out of these MOOCs as they’re called, the Massive- I forget what it stands for.

Shiv Gaglani: Yeah, Massive Open Online Courses.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah Massive Open Online Courses. What used to be where you had to go to Harvard to get the knowledge from that one top professor in that one specific subject, that information can be had online easily and schools like Harvard, and MIT are putting a lot of these classes online. It seems silly to have over 160 or 180 medical schools that we have now all going through the same thing, spinning all their wheels together, teaching the same thing over, and over, and over again, where we could just have one national medical school and all the students take their online classes, and then for the clinical years obviously are at local hospitals doing their rotations. Is that where you see the future of education in general going?

Shiv Gaglani: It’s really interesting that you mention that, I mean we’ve had a lot of conversations with groups like the AMA, and ADMS about what that looks like. Something where I think the diversity is valuable to a large extent, where we have osteopathic schools, we have allopathic schools, some schools in the southwest teach about certain diseases that show up in their patient populations more than the northeast where like Lyme disease is more of an issue. And so I think some regional diversity is important. I do think that there’s a lot of wasted energy and resources in the same professors giving the same lectures year after year, and oftentimes these lectures- what we’re seeing happening in medical schools and other health profession schools is these professors are teaching to largely empty lecture halls and the students instead are opting to use Pathoma and Goljan or whatnot, and one interesting point is while the MOOCs have originated from universities like Harvard and Stanford and whatnot, Goljan used to be the most popular audio lectures for medicine, maybe still is to some extent. Goljan is a professor at Oklahoma State and so- or University of Oklahoma, one of those institutions down there, and has taught more medical students than most Harvard faculty for example. And again going back to like Tanner, and Rishi, and what they’ve done with Open Osmosis, those videos have been viewed more times than any individual faculty member at Stanford may have produced a video that’s been viewed. I mean don’t hold me to that, but essentially you get kind of what I’m saying. And I think we want to go to a point where we democratize access to this information, it’s delivered and it’s like the best lecture for sickle cell anemia that you can find, and it frees up faculty to do problem-based learning, to do case-based discussions, it frees up students to see patients, to learn how to use an EMR, and basically kind of flips medicine on its head because the question is do you actually need to know some of the minutia that is now tested on these boards long term, or should we basically speed up the curriculum and reduce the cost of it so that more people can become clinicians who eventually do the important work of helping patients? Another quick thing I’ll mention is that these videos are being translated into ten languages or so; Thai, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese, et cetera, and they’re being descended internationally to under resourced areas. So I was in Namibia in March where the University of Namibia, a lot of those students there use Osmosis the platform for free, as well as the videos obviously. And so one of our big missions is to democratize and make it more international. Actually our videos right now get more international views that Khan Academy was able to get as a percentage of their total views. So we are fulfilling our mission of open and global health education.

Getting Involved with Open Osmosis

Dr. Ryan Gray: Wow, that’s awesome. How can a premed student that’s listening to this now, or a medical student that might be listening, how can they either get involved with Open Osmosis, or how can they start thinking like you think, and having the impact that you’re having on the medical world as a whole?

Shiv Gaglani: Yeah I mean Tanner, maybe you can talk about kind of how we do work with people who come and approach us to do everything from script writing, to video animation if they’re talented enough to do that. You can talk about that, and just briefly my plug will be I don’t think anybody should force themselves to think about trying to impact. Like if they are a med student or premed student who wants to do the one-on-one patients, we need those people to like really focus individually with patients. And so if you have an inclination though to create things, to be entrepreneurial, certainly I think there’s a growing network of medical students, and premed students and whatnot who’ve done this, and they should certainly reach out. I think Ryan, and obviously you’re a nexus of many of these people, so if they contact you or contact me, I’m happy to talk to them. I’ve written a couple of articles on this topic. But in terms of Open Osmosis contributions specifically, Tanner maybe you can start by sharing some of the things you think that they could contribute.

Tanner Marshall: Yeah well I mean so since I’m the only one doing these videos it’s just kind of been treading water trying to make these deadlines. So we have been looking for people, and honestly I don’t think if you have a strong background in science, and health, and medicine, like I don’t think you need to be a doctor to do these, to illustrate these videos. And if- like because that’s kind of like my background, right? I have a Master’s in Biomedical Engineering which is kind of in the realm, but also just I have an interest in the field, and I have been doing this for a while. But yeah, I mean we’re definitely always looking for illustrators and people willing to contribute and who are good with kind of like the technical aspect of it too in making the videos, as well as script writers. We have- we’re starting to grow a pretty big team of script writers, and people who are just able to write an awesome concise script of information that we’ll eventually turn into a video.

Shiv Gaglani: I was going to say so for premeds and for med students interested in this kind of stuff, I think it’s a particularly interesting opportunity to get involved with medical and health education, because the process of boiling down this complex information into a short and concise and clear script is essentially what these people have to do when they treat patients, when you try educating patients, you can’t make it too complex and that’s part of why these videos that Tanner’s produced are so popular with patients and family members, is they’re very accessible and not like a whole Powerpoint from a Harvard med school faculty. They aren’t intimidating essentially.

Dr. Ryan Gray: All of this work, Tanner, on Open Osmosis, has this implanted anything in you to want to go and get your medical degree now?

Tanner Marshall: I don’t know. It’s kind of always in the back of my mind. I actually did apply back in the day, like probably four or five years ago, and I went through the interview process, did all that, and kind of ended up not getting in. I got wait-listed at a few places and then didn’t get in, and just was like, ‘You know, I’m just going to move out west and work in the industry for a while and re-evaluate maybe in a few years.’ And so I’m not really sure, and I really like what I’m doing, I think- I do think that it has a huge impact, and yeah honestly I couldn’t really say, but I always- it’s nice to keep the door open I guess, certainly it is still open.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Well if The Premed Years were around back when you were applying, you would have gotten in, I know it.

Shiv Gaglani: I will say that from my perspective, I went to Hopkins med school, and I met a lot of really smart people; I’m going to embarrass Tanner here, but clearly I don’t know what happened in those years before, but someone who’s able to produce these videos and educate tens of thousands of people, like I think Tanner, you should probably apply to be a med school faculty, not go to med school.

Tanner Marshall: Yeah, we’ll see about that.

Motivation for the Struggling Premed

Dr. Ryan Gray: Nice. Shiv, how can we motivate those that are following in our footsteps as they’re on their journey, struggling to decide if this is the right step for them; go to medical school, or go to business school, or go do research and get their PhD. What do you say to them they they’re trying to figure it all out?

Shiv Gaglani: So I think one nice thing is that there are more natural break points in your medical training. I know plenty of people who- there’s like a neurosurgery resident at MGH I know who’s getting an MBA now. So I think if you’re really passionate and interested in something, you shouldn’t consider that like, ‘Oh man, I’ve been on this straight and narrow path for so long, I have to discontinue it.’ I mean there are exceptions to those kinds of things, but for the most part I think if you do your research and if you’re genuine with what interests you, you shouldn’t be worried about the path. I mean you talk to many successful people- there’s a Nobel Laureate in physics who gave a lecture that I attended earlier this year, and he compared his path to this Nobel Prize essentially like he was sailing. And so sometimes to get from point A to point B, you don’t go straight in sailing, you have to attack. And so your career- like he was making the analogy that his career took digressions along the way, and the skills he developed on those digressions ultimately led to him being able to make the connections that led to this groundbreaking discovery, which led to the Nobel Prize in physics. And so I think similarly, someone interested in the business of medicine, in scaling impact and global health, or whatever you may be interested in, don’t be afraid to start making connections and exploring what that looks like, and then taking advantage of opportunities as they come. It’s obviously important to still kind of keep your eye on the prize because if you’re like me and you get distracted too much, you may ultimately like wind up somewhere saying, ‘How did I get here?’ But fortunately I evaluate myself every few months, every at least three to six months, and like I ask myself the question, ‘Am I-‘ two questions, ‘Am I enjoying what I’m doing right now? And can I see myself continuing to enjoy this in six months from now?’ And so as long as you’re being honest with yourself, I think you should feel free to dive in and take advantage of opportunities.

Dr. Ryan Gray: I like it. Tanner, Shiv, any last minute info about Open Osmosis that we should know?

Shiv Gaglani: I’d welcome anyone who’s interested in this to come to, or email us at [email protected] We love working with premeds and medical students who are committed and interested in medical education. We’ve actually published a number of papers with them as well, so if you’re interested in that please feel free to reach out to us. Tanner, did you have anything else?

Tanner Marshall: No, I mean we welcome anyone who wants to help us I think.

Shiv Gaglani: Definitely, at a minimum just watch the videos. I’m sure when you take a look you’ll really enjoy them.

Final Thoughts

Dr. Ryan Gray: Alright there you have it, Shiv and Tanner from Open Osmosis. Again you can find it at You can find all of their videos that they’re doing on YouTube, you can find them all over Wikipedia as they talked about, they’re doing some amazing things, and if you’re looking to get involved, go reach out and they’ll put you to work I’m sure. Thanks Shiv and Tanner for joining me on the podcast and sharing everything that you’re doing at Open Osmosis.

I want to take a second and thank a few people that have left ratings and reviews recently. A lot of these new reviews are coming in because students are entering to win the contest, which means some one-on-one tutoring from me, some application prep, some mock interview prep, some books, some video courses on the interview process, a little bit of everything. If you enter you’re going to have a good chance of winning something, so go to to figure out how to register. You have until November 14th, the end of the day November 14th of 2016. So go do that,

Alright a couple of people that left ratings and reviews. We have k0l3TT3 that says, ‘Highly recommend and very interesting.’ Thank you for that rating and review.

We have PremedReject that said, ‘Wish I found this sooner.’ Thank you for that, PremedReject.

We have RE M. that says, ‘Mentors you wish you have at your university.’ Now that’s the best title of a review ever, so thank you for that, RE M.

Alright so again, to learn how to register to win- or enter to win the contest, and get some free stuff. Who doesn’t like free stuff? If you’re listening to this in a browser on your device, or your computer- your mobile device or your computer, go subscribe. Go download the podcast app on your iOS device, or Podcast Addict, or Google Play Music, or any other podcasting application on your Android device, and register- and subscribe to this podcast. Open up that podcast app, search for ‘Med Ed Media,’ or search for ‘The Premed Years,’ and find everything that we’re doing. Subscribe so that you get this podcast weekly, every week in your podcast app.

Alright that’s it, I hope you have a great week. Continue pushing forward. The path to becoming a physician is a long one, but it’s so worth it in the end. I hope you have a great week, we’ll see you next week here at The Premed Years.

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