Matthew West, OMS II at A.T. Still University – SOMA, Awarded $5,000 Founders’ Scholarship

February 26, 2018

Matthew West, OMS II
Having the ability to give back to his community through practicing medicine is what really excites Matthew West about becoming a physician. This OMS II at A.T. Still University - SOMA was impacted by shadowing a DO while living in Tucson, which led to his decision to pursue medicine. "He showed me that he practiced medicine like allopathic physicians, but that he also had the added value of osteopathic manipulation for improving health. My lifelong journey into osteopathic medicine stems from his kindness of accepting me to shadow him for an entire month without even knowing me." Read on to learn more about Matthew West's thoughts on the medical field and his journey as a medical student.

What is your favorite thing to do in your (very limited!) free time?
I enjoy spending time outdoors and hiking, which is the first think I think of doing whenever I have a day off. One of my favorite activities before medical school was volunteering at Pima Animal Care Center. I really miss having the opportunity to volunteer with animals, so when I have more free time I definitely plan on pursing that interest again! 

How did you discover you wanted a career in medicine?
There was never a single moment that led me to choose going to medical school. Rather, I gravitated towards a career in medicine through my passion to help others. Along with my motivation to do well in school, becoming a physician just seemed to be a natural fit for me.  

Who has been the most influential person in your life throughout your journey as a medical student?
I have been positively influenced by someone at each job, volunteer position, internship, clinical shadowing, or classroom experience I've had. Usually through mentorship and guidance, these people have led by example and molded me into the physician I hope to become. From my elementary school teacher, to a boss at my first grocery store job, to medical school preceptors, I have had the opportunity to learn from many different people. Although, if I had to narrow it down, my parents have been there with me through it all and have shown me how to overcome adversity.  

Which specialty do you plan to practice? 
As a second year medical student there's a lot I haven't experienced yet, but at this point addiction medicine is my strongest interest and a specialty I feel very passionate about.

Tell us about a typical day in the life of a medical student.
ATSU-SOMA is unlike any other medical school I have ever heard of. Every day of the week is different for me, so there's more of a typical week as opposed to a daily routine. Most Mondays have an exam, but sometimes we study biostatistics and epidemiology instead. Tuesdays are my favorite day of the week since I spend a full day at a community health center seeing patients and shadowing two preceptors who are osteopathic physicians. This early clinical exposure is one of the main reasons I chose this school. Wednesdays are a full day in the classroom, half of the day is spent learning and practicing osteopathic techniques and the other half is spent practicing our medical skills. Thursdays are the most "relaxing" for me, I spend the day watching most of the week's podcasted lectures, which is usually around 10 hours to watch. Friday is when we meet at the classroom to go over clinical cases as a group and discuss them. We also have grand rounds once a month where an upperclassman presents a case they saw in clinic. The weekends are for anything from catching up on lectures, studying for upcoming board exams, to preparing for the inevitable Monday exam, but most importantly catching up with friends and family!  

What advice would you give to a student considering medicine as a career?
Find what area of medicine motivates you and what you're passionate about. There will be times on test weekends when it is difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel and stay motivated. If you can remember why you started out on this journey and what the end goal is, you can make it there. It is important to experience many different aspects of medicine to see what lights that fire in you. No matter what subject you are learning in medical school or what rotation you are on, it is important to give it your all and experience what it has to offer.

What is the most interesting thing you've discovered so far in your medical training?
I don't think I realized how much of a team effort medicine truly is. This is obviously true in hospital medicine, but even in the outpatient primary care setting as well. In our community health center, my preceptors might connect a single patient with behavioral health, diabetes and nutrition education, dentistry, and clinical pharmacy all in our little clinic! Seeing this team approach of patient wellness from many different angles is truly interesting and motivating. 

What do you think the future of medicine looks like? 
I believe that medicine is headed in the right direction. Advances in research, pharmacology, and therapeutic options will improve our understanding and treatment of diseases. However, the importance of primary care and preventive medicine will continue to yield the most improvement in quality-of-life for patients. Routine care centered around evidence based guidelines will also remain crucial for counteracting chronic disease.

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