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From the Start-up World to Medical School

James Corines Balances His Many Passions

December 20, 2016
OMS III James Corines launched a start-up before he enrolled in medical school.
OMS III James Corines launched a start-up before he enrolled in medical school.
  1. Breakdancer
  2. Medical Student
  3. Computer Programmer
  4. Start-up Entrepreneur
  1. You might want to go with E) all of the above, or go with F) life-long learner.

It is incredibly hard to pin down Corines or his myriad of interests and talents. Corines, who grew up in Long Island, studied at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. While a student there, he, together with his peers, launched a clinic for local indigent residents to figure out what government services they qualified for.

While he divided his time between the clinic and his neuroscience major, Corines also learnt how to breakdance.

“It’s a word-of-mouth tradition there,” he said. “People in the community would come in and show us. It’s a relatively new art form, though the standards are clear.”

Though only a novice at breakdancing (Corines prefers the term “breaking”), he began giving lessons. 

“I was able to teach workshops despite having only a few years of experience,” Corines explained. “The painter Bob Ross said there were ‘happy accidents’; and that’s what I feel in dance; whenever someone does something wrong, it’s pushing forward the creative process.”

He took the ‘happy accidents’ idea to his work in the clinic. Noticing a backlog of patients and a flowchart that dictated what services they could receive, Corines, then taking a class in programming, figured he could automate it. He coded a program that automatically figured out which services were available for patients.

“It opened my eyes to the reality of healthcare,” he said, explaining that the development of the program coincided with the launch of the Affordable Care Act and the expanded Medicaid program. “I would aggregate the list and directories of public services and community-based organization from where people could get medications to free dinners at churches.”

Once the clinic started using the program, he realized the potential for what he called “a yelp for social services.” He built the prototype and, with his team at the clinic, submitted the program to the school-wide business competition and won.

The program eventually became Healthify.us, which was chosen for a place in a health-care start-up incubator in New York. The start-up currently has 21 employees. After helping build the infrastructure, Corines ended up leaving amicably so he could pursue his dream of becoming a doctor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in Harlem. One of the reasons he chose TouroCOM was the diverse student body. Last year he was the president of the Artists in Medicine club, a group that runs arts events for students to allow them to engage their artistic side during their studies.

“I feel like every day I learn something new at TouroCOM,” he said. “In this kind of atmosphere you begin to develop the skills needed to be an effective physician. While medical school can be stressful, it helps to know your classmates have your back and that your professors are always looking out for you.”

Being in the city also allows him to take advantage of the thriving dance scene.

“It’s also a culture and a lifestyle,” he explained about dance.

Corines is now in his third-year of medical school at TouroCOM and since his academic life has calmed down he’s back to breaking. He’s looking to combine all three of his passions into one project. Corines been gathering data about injuries that he and his fellow dancers suffer and plans to do some more research on it. His eventual goal is to specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation.

“I want to develop the data to help this population that has a high risk of injuries,” he said. “The goal is to have a conversation about how to treat this population better.”