Trading a lacrosse stick for a stethoscope

By Kyle Hobstetter on July 27, 2020

TU men’s lacrosse alumnus ready to face patients for the first time

Tyler Konen '17 during a lacrosse game.
During his time on the Towson University men's lacrosse team, Tyler Konen (right) had goals of going to West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in Lewisburg, West Virginia. 

During his time at Towson University, Tyler Konen ‘17 helped the Tiger men’s lacrosse team reach three NCAA Tournaments and make an appearance in the 2017 Final Four.

After the physicality of Division I lacrosse, Konen is taking on a more daunting challenge: medical school. The Bridgewater, New Jersey, native is entering his third year at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in Lewisburg, West Virginia. 

When he was younger, Konen spent time in the emergency room. But whether it was a broken arm or broken back, the doctors were never flustered. Watching them do their thing is what made him want to go into medicine.  

“I just admired how no matter what the situation was, the doctors always seemed so calm, cool and collected,” Konen says. “They always had the right answer, and I admired that. I wanted to do that when I grew up and pay it forward.”

Konen is currently doing clinical rotations at the Frederick Health Hospital and a private family practice, both located in Frederick, Maryland. After the rotations, he will then chose a specialty to focus on. 

After spending the past two years solely in a classroom, Konen has been excited to work with patients and perform minor procedures. 

“It’s amazing,” Konen says. “You’re talking to patients, seeing things that you’ve been reading about. The doctors are constantly quizzing you, keeping you sharp. It’s just a way better learning environment for me, specifically because I’m a more hands-on learner.”

He knew coming into Towson University his major had to be chemistry or biology; those two majors covered the prerequisites a student needs to take the MCAT.   

Konen chose the biology route and instantly found faculty there willing to help him. He says professors stayed after class to take questions and were always available for conversations about the classwork.

He also credits the biology faculty for guiding him through the premed track and making sure he was ready for medical school.

“My professors at TU were a major instrument in my success,” Konen says. “They push you because you can’t understand what med school really is until you’re there. [TU faculty members] give you that little extra push here and there and are like, ‘This is what you’re going to need to expect.’

“They did a really great job in getting us ready for what was coming next.”

Tyler Konen and his fellow medical school students
Konen, who is third from the left, poses with members of his medical school cohort. 

That journey began with his recruitment as a lacrosse player. When deciding where he wanted to play the sport after high school, Konen made several college visits. But it was his discussions with Tiger head coach Shawn Nadelen that made TU resonate.

Konen was impressed by Nadelen’s vision and wanted to be part of the direction the program was heading.

In his freshmen year, the team finished fourth in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) and missed the NCAA Tournament. The following three years, Konen and the Tigers won three league championships, appeared in the NCAA Tournament three times and made the program’s first NCAA Final Four appearance in more than 15 years.

He still is close with teammates Alec Burckley, Matt Hoy, Matt Leonard and Ryan Drenner and still talks to more of his former teammates in the team’s group chat. He also admits he can’t wait to see them in person after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“From a little kid, winning championships and playing in NCAA Tournaments was what I dreamed of,” Konen says. “It was cool to see how the team, especially my class, grew from freshman to senior year and how each year we took the next step to get better.

“I really appreciate the opportunity to be with those guys and grow with them. I think we set a new standard with Towson University lacrosse.” 

When asked what advice he would give TU’s pre-med community, his answer was simply to cherish the time with friends.

“People don’t realize that as cool as TU is academically, it’s also just a great place to be a student,” Konen says. “Work hard, but have as much fun as you can because those four years go by fast, and the next thing you know, you’re going to be wishing you’re back there.”

This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: TU Matters to Maryland.