A Community Unlike Any Other | PCOM Celebrates AANHPI Heritage Month
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A Community Unlike Any Other 
AANHPI Heritage Month

May 27, 2024
Photograph of PCOM med student Tyler Kung in white coat

For Tyler Kung (DO ’27), medical school is not an individualized journey. No matter what your background is, he believes it should be treated as a shared experience.

“Having continuous support is central and should be something that everyone considers when they go to medical school,” said Kung. “The community here at PCOM is unlike anything I've experienced previously in my life. There isn't a person here that I don't feel comfortable talking to.”

Kung has found a particularly strong sense of community within PCOM’s chapter of the Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association (APAMSA), where he serves as co-president. For those interested in joining APAMSA, Kung says, “We are here to support you and make sure that you aren't in this alone.”

With undergraduate degrees in anthropology and economics, Kung understands more about the social determinants of health than other medical students. Seeing medicine through a social lens is what drives him.

“I was at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual conference in New York City, and one of the first meetings I attended was about Asian-American identity and Asian cultural formation with regards to psychiatry,” he said. “They talked about how Asian Americans have the lowest utilization of mental health services.”

Tyler Kung (DO ’27) smiling with a group of students in the PCOM chapter of APAMSA

This statistic stood out to Kung and affirmed his interest in providing proper care to those who may need it but do not feel comfortable asking for help.

“I do think there's a stigma,” he shared. “There's a plethora of data that supports that fact. I don't think that it's talked about a lot in Asian American communities. There are enormous amounts of pressure for achievement, and so if you don't necessarily meet that bar of achievement, it can be injurious to mental health.”

First exposed to mental health during his time working in a nursing home, Kung was able to see how a lack of autonomy impacted the residents.

“They were unable to live the quality of life they had before their diagnosis,” he said. “That inspired me to pursue medicine because I wanted people to live their own lives. I didn't want it to be dictated by disease. That led me down the path to medical school.”

Tyler Kung (DO ’27) with his family

Kung now hopes to become a source of strength and comfort for a wide variety of patients. Similar to one provider he met when he was just a high school student.

“I shadowed a primary care physician, and she spoke only Mandarin to her patients in Chinatown, New York. I'm from Jersey, so it was essentially my local community, and seeing the ability for her patients to feel comfortable and be treated by her for 20–30 years really warmed my heart,” he said.

“These people would otherwise be unseen in traditional healthcare settings since they can't speak the language, so I think that there's a lot of opportunity there. Being someone who is part of the AAPI community, I want to understand what people are going through and use some of my unique background experiences with those types of patients.”

The PCOM Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association (APAMSA) Chapter aims to educate and advocate for AAPI healthcare issues, support Asian American Pacific Islander PCOM students, and connect with Philly's Asian community. The organization’s events are open to all, and everyone is encouraged to join their community. Those interested may reach out to apamsa@pcom.edu with any questions, or follow them on Instagram at @pcomapamsa.


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About Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

For the past 125 years, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) has trained thousands of highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral scientists who practice a “whole person” approach to care—treating people, not just symptoms. PCOM, a private, not-for-profit accredited institution of higher education, operates three campuses (PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia) and offers doctoral degrees in clinical psychology, educational psychology, osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, and school psychology. The college also offers graduate degrees in applied behavior analysis, applied positive psychology, biomedical sciences, forensic medicine, medical laboratory science, mental health counseling, physician assistant studies, and school psychology. PCOM students learn the importance of health promotion, research, education and service to the community. Through its community-based Healthcare Centers, PCOM provides care to medically underserved populations. For more information, visit pcom.edu or call 215-871-6100.

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