Fast Facts

Humans of WVSOM 

Humans of WVSOM is a documentary series designed by WVSOM students. Follow their stories on Facebook! It's a great way to learn more about our diverse group of students.

Meet Thomas Fisher, WVSOM Class of 2022 - Lancaster, PA

"I was raised in an Amish Mennonite community, and they are the reason I’m at WVSOM. The healthcare needs in my community inspire me to become a physician. We have many genetic disorders, low vaccination rates, and little healthcare education, which are all compounded by the difficulty of navigating the healthcare system. Additionally, many people in my community feel misunderstood by their physicians, especially when talking about home remedies for illnesses. Home remedies are very popular. This isn’t always bad, but there is some bogus being used too.

Although the Amish have access to care, many experience cultural barriers. Physicians simply don’t understand the way of life and belief system. Some also have a language barrier because their first language is Pennsylvania Dutch. Healthcare leaders in the community, WellSpan and PennMedicine, have been proactive in addressing these barriers with services such as translation and healthcare liaisons for the Amish.

While the healthcare needs of my community inspire me to become a physician, their continued support is essential to my success. It was a huge culture shock for me to move away from my home community in Lancaster, PA and start undergrad in Ohio. They supported me – and continue to support me – with letters, phone calls, gifts, and donations toward my tuition. Dozens of people also pray for me regularly. It truly does take a village to raise a child.

WVSOM’s celebration of diverse cultures and its focus on primary care in rural areas make it a perfect fit for me. It’s their mission. Furthermore, osteopathic medicine is especially important to me because the Amish and Mennonites are more prone to musculoskeletal dysfunctions; many of them are farmers or construction workers. I am incredibly grateful to be part of the WVSOM community, and I have full faith they will prepare me well to serve where I’ve been called."


Meet Molly O'Neil, WVSOM Class of 2022 - Laurel, MD 

“On Tuesday I attended a lunch lecture on Breastfeeding Support and the impact this ‘liquid gold’ can have on the baby’s health. Breastfeeding lowers infant mortality, aids in protection against infections, has numerous immunologic benefits, lowers the risks of SIDS, and may even have ties to cognitive development. Learning about the benefits of breastfeeding made me appreciate my birth mother that much more.

On this day 24 years ago, I had been abandoned at the age of five months and was found early in the morning on a mat by the road, outside of the gate of an orphanage in mainland China. There was no note. No explanation. No way of knowing who I was or where I came from. I had a small bag of clothes and a tin of baby powder. At the time, families in China by law were not permitted to have more than one child. There were severe consequences for anyone caught giving birth to a second child. My adoptive mother believes that in order for my biological mother to have kept me until the age of five months, she must have gone to great lengths to hide and protect me. When I was found, I was in exceptional condition. The physicians were amazed at my health and progress and noted that I was probably breast fed up until I was left at the orphanage. This could be a contributing factor to my health and success today.

I am so very thankful for my birth mother for choosing to give me life, and for giving me the vital nutrients I needed when I entered this world. Growing up, I never viewed my adoption in a negative light. I never felt abandoned, but chosen. What my biological mother did was a tremendous act of love and sacrifice. I have both mothers to thank for getting me to the place where I am today. I could not ask for better parents who love and support me unconditionally.”


Meet Blake Jones, WVSOM Class of 2022 - San Francisco, CA 

“I was diagnosed with a retinal condition at a very young age. I was supposed to go blind years ago, and I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t caught early. This was what really peaked my interest in medicine. I got to see first hand how medicine can change lives. I am still in touch with the doctor that made the diagnosis. I had the opportunity to shadow him for the summer, and I’ll see him occasionally when I go home. 

Medical school has simultaneously been the most challenging and easiest thing I’ve ever done. Everyone uses the “drinking from a firehose” analogy to describe this process, but I don’t think the volume is the problem for me. Integrating everything into one big picture is what’s challenging. Its like trying to figure out a massive, thousand-piece puzzle. We have a piece of the sky but we don’t know where it goes exactly. Not yet. Where does it go and how does it relate? I suppose the further we go along, it’ll all make sense in the end. 

Med school has been easy in that I’m truly interested in what I’m learning. In undergrad we had to take prerequisites in courses that we had no interest in. Here, its different. Everything has its part in the big picture, which makes things more interesting and easier to study. 

In terms of specialties, I think its too early to say anything definitive. Maybe Emergency Medicine. Maybe anesthesia or pain management. Time will tell."


Meet Miesca McFarland, WVSOM Class of 2020 - St. Andrew, Jamaica 

“I came to America after completing high school to attend college… I’ve always wanted to be a doctor since I was six. … I grew up in a violent and poor community. As a kid I saw sick people all the time but lacked the resources to help in what they really needed. People are getting killed and the only way I thought I could help anybody was to become a healer…

Osteopathic medicine seemed like a perfect resource for this particular scenario. People don’t understand how important OMT is. Even if you can’t cure cancer, there are so many techniques that can help and it gives everybody control over their body. It also gives everyone the opportunity to help someone else. So, for me, for someone from a developing country, people can’t necessarily afford Panadol or get an ACE wrap. You can teach them how to do a treatment with OMT. It’s kind of like having NSAIDS in your pocket. Money influences a lot of things from access to quality of care, but with OMT anyone is able to make an impact with money being less of a factor… I plan on going home to build a recrational educational center. I’m not going to build a clinic because that would only take away business from local hospitals which might result in them closing down. I’m not going to be helping anybody that way; that would just decrease health access. I figured I must try to bend a tree when as a sapling; simply because you can’t bend a tree when its fully grown… When I was younger my school was able to do a trip where they sent us to a resort across the country. It was a complete change of perspective. It introduced me to a world where people could afford to come there and stay a week in a resort. It motivated me to want better and not necessarily fall under the status quo. For me, I want to target children and help them see that there is more to life once you stick it out with the books. No matter how expensive education is, it is the best way out. I was fortunate enough that I came to that conclusion from a young age. Because no matter what happens, you can break a leg, you can lose your voice, but no one can take away your education…

It’s not a matter of convincing people, it’s a matter of providing those opportunities. I was lucky enough to get an opportunity. I’m smart, but whatever. My friends were just as smart if not smarter. The only reason I’m here – not because I’m dedicated or more hard working- I hate when people attribute success just to that. Of course, you must be hard working, but you must have the opportunity… That is the only reason that I am here. My grandmother lived here and filed for me and I went to college and I took advantage of that…. My goal is to provide opportunities for those to take advantage of… The Dream Again Project was about this opportunity of dreaming. Everyone dreams. When you were younger in this country you thought you could be a president, an astronaut. Back home I dreamed there were no gunshots fired this week or hoped there was no curfew, hoped my mommy made enough money today so that we could eat. Physiological need, basic human rights become a dream when we don’t have opportunity. The project was just to give kids the dream… It’s only a $1000. Can you imagine paying tuition for a year for the US for a grand? The goal is to raise enough for one tuition. So, it’s a small contribution but, one or more persons can get a degree- one more person can contribute to the economy and stop leaving. That is what the Dream Again Project is… It’s a tremendous gift to be where you are now.

Exactly where you are. Everyone has personal struggle and obstacles. And everyone will face them in the future, but to take a second to realize that my biggest problem right now is to study 12 hours a day, when some people are thinking about how they are going to feed their children today. How amazing it would be, just like me, dreaming to be a doctor- people could dream to be a scientist. When a dream isn’t dreamt, and a dream isn’t realized we are all losing." 


Meet Abdul Nazif, WVSOM Class of 2020 - Philadelphia, PA 

"I came to the United States at the age of 12 from Syria. My mom was a doctor back home and whenever I went to work with her I always noticed how people looked up to her. She was as a famous physician in the area and it was motivating to see that. When I was a kid I didn’t really know what I wanted to do but my parents wanted me to become a pharmacist. All I knew was that I wanted a career that helped people.

My mom didn’t practice medicine in the United States and as a family we grew up poor. My family didn’t have money to provide me to go to college so I had to coach tennis for the majority of undergrad to be able to afford school. I tore my ACL during my senior year two weeks before the start of tennis season at Temple. It was a very emotional time for me but I really looked up to the doctor who repaired my ACL. He changed my life and I think that set me on the path to medicine. I made a promise to myself that in the future when I become a physician one of my biggest focuses will be using the money I make to provide for the poor. My home country Syria has undergone a financial crisis and I want to be able to at least help my family over there that are struggling.

What people don’t know is that I used to struggle with my weight. When I came to the United States I decided to work my hardest to become more fit and work hard in school because my family came here so that my siblings and I could get a better education. Sometimes I still struggle with the English language, believe it or not, but other than that I’m a truly genuine person who wants the best for everybody."


Meet Amanda Buzzetta, WVSOM Class of 2021 - Orlando, FL 


"Because of the political climate of Venezuela... it wasn't safe for my family. [We were] fortunate enough to be American citizens because mom was born in the United States. [My parents] decided to move and then within 4 months we were in Florida. We had 5 duffle bags. That's what we brought with us when we arrived in Miami. And [we] worked up to Orlando [where my] parents thought it was a good place to raise kids..."

When my paternal grandmother passed away this changed my perspective completely on what I wanted to do for a living. That's when I decided to do Osteopathic medicine. She passed away in Venezuela, it could have been prevented- due to the poor healthcare system and lack of resources and really listening to the patient... She was sent home basically when she should have been hospitalized. Part of the process was realizing that so much more could have been done. I knew that in the future I could be the doctor that would not let something like that happen, going to school every day I feel so fortunate to be in school.

Before that, I didn't think I wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to be in music education or a musician in high school.
[Music is an] outlet for feelings. It's a way to express myself and not even in an artistic way, but I feel like it's a transfer of energy from my emotions to a physical energy like air and sound. Specifically, being a doctor, I really value and admire the position of leadership.

A lot of things that people might take for granted are things that, as Americans, are not questioned or guaranteed. [These advantages] are truly valued, especially in my family. This huge sacrifice they made to leave our home and leave their lives, families, and their jobs to come to this country and not know what would happen. Their drive was just for us, for their children, to live a safe life and to have an education they could use and to be successful. I think that's taken for granted in this country. As an immigrant, that definitely is my drive. I always think about my parents when I do anything. I think everything I do should be worthy of their sacrifice.

All of the opportunities that we have are not available to a lot of people outside of this country. I feel so fortunate to have access to an education. That is incredible to me."