As AMO celebrates 10 years, we step back to before it all began.
In 2008, Kyle Swinsky was a first-year pre-med student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. With the launch of AMO still five years away, Kyle made his first foray into helping international medical students when he founded the university’s pre-med chapter of the American Medical Student Association.
Serving as the president, Kyle spent his time with more than 30 international medical students every year. Through this experience, Kyle came to understand the demand on international medical students who want to practice medicine in the U.S.
Four years later, Kyle would meet Ben Bradley, an international studies major who lived in Kyle’s apartment building. Their shared interest in international policy, politics, and current events led to the inspiration to start a business that met three criteria:
- It had to make a difference
- It had to be rewarding
- It had to be international
Thus, the seed was planted that would become AMOpportunities.
Humble Beginnings in a College Apartment
In March 2013, Kyle and Ben launched AMOpportunities. Working out of their college apartment and using spreadsheets to find doctors at UW-Madison and across the country, Ben secured rotations for students and Kyle developed relationships with trainees who booked experiences with them.
Growth was imminent. Ryan Flores, a mutual friend from school joined the team and took over working with trainees. Kyle shifted to marketing and growing the marketplace. Ben’s focus began to include high-level operations.
This allowed AMO to move to its current home, Chicago, Illinois, in the summer of 2014. Remaining in the Midwest was important for Kyle, Ben, and Ryan who all call the region home. But the move to Chicago was also about being in a healthcare hub with easy access for international trainees, as Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport is the third largest in the United States.
Growing into a New Home
Shortly after the move, Kyle enrolled at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, where he earned his MBA. While a logical move at the time, this decision would play a pivotal role in AMO’s future.
The summer of 2014 also saw the three-person team still working out of spreadsheets and running on their own money. They saw a clear need for software, and through mutual friends, Malek Yala would take on the responsibility of building out AMO’s website.
Business doubled every year for three years. After launching the website, AMO’s business doubled again.
With Kyle at Booth and Ben earning his MBA/JD from Northwestern University, the company was still being operated from their apartments. Eventually, they applied to and were accepted into Matter, a healthcare startup incubator located in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. Running the company out of Matter, they decided it was time to start looking for funding.
Kyle’s position at Booth was fortuitous. A classmate convinced him to enter the University of Chicago New Venture Challenge, an accelerator program for Booth students with startups. After three months of perfecting their presentation and meeting with venture capitalists, judges, and other experts, AMOpportunities won the 2017 NVC out of a pool of 300 applicants. They received $100,000, giving them the stage to raise their seed round, bringing on OCA Ventures and Madison-based HealthX as investors.
Within the year of the competition, AMO grew from five employees to 25, opened its first office, and continued to double business year-over-year. In 2018, AMO raised $3 million in Series A funding and was accepted into Dreamit Ventures, an accelerator program for startups looking to scale.
Overcoming an Obstacle
With the onset of the pandemic in 2020, the company faced its largest obstacle to date. As borders closed around the world, international travel ground to a halt, and hospitals were severely limited, canceling the majority of in-person clinical training. Instead of waiting for clinical training to resume, AMO looked to how the pandemic would change medical education. As a response, AMO launched virtual rotations, which relied on telehealth technologies already in use at clinics and hospitals around the country.
These virtual rotations were a success in 2020, and they have remained a popular option for students well past the height of the pandemic.
Now, in March of 2023, ten years after Kyle and Ben were crunching data into spreadsheets in a college apartment, the two lead AMO as CEO and COO, respectively. AMO has more than 45 employees and has won numerous awards, including the Presidential “E” Award and the PIEoneer of the Year Award.
After a decade of creating opportunities in medicine, AMO has helped more than 4,000 medical students and graduates find clinical rotations and has expanded its partnerships with international medical schools and U.S. medical schools, physician assistant programs, and nursing schools to better deliver clinical training to students around the world.
Overcoming the physician shortage is far from over. However, AMO empowers students to have more agency in their medical education by removing the barriers they face in accessing clinical training.