Ross University Blog

GRADUATE PROFILE: A Bold Path Pays Off for RUSM Grad Ariel Gavino

February 26, 2015

Like most Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) graduates, Ariel Gavino, MBA, MD, always had big dreams of becoming a physician. What’s different about his story is the path he took to make those dreams come true.

“I didn’t do as well as I would have liked in college, so I took a different route,” says Gavino, who graduated from RUSM in 2008.

"Directors from internal medicine programs, surgical programs, Emergency Department programs—they were all asking me to go ahead and apply [for residency], because they thought I’d do well."

Ariel Gavino, '08 RUSM graduate, on getting multiple residency offers during clinical rotations in the US
It was a route that ultimately paid off. After earning his Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree at RUSM, he's now both an attending physician (addiction medicine) at Kaiser Permanente, California, and a psychiatrist with the California State Department of Corrections.

“Being a physician is one of the most prestigious, honorable careers one can have,” Gavino says. “Without Ross, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Grabbing His Opportunity at Ross

Gavino is a career-changer—a term describing a student who decides to pursue medical school a bit later in life, after having already held a job in either a medical field or something entirely different. Some career-changers simply hear the calling to practice medicine later in life; others intentionally spend time gaining practical experience through non-physician healthcare careers.

In Gavino's case, it was the latter: He spent years gaining experience as both a certified respiratory therapist and a physician assistant before starting his search for medical schools.

Even so, the search proved discouraging at first. “I thought getting into med school in the US was unachievable, because I knew how competitive it was, and still is, in the states,” he says.

A good friend of his had recently been accepted to RUSM, so at that friend’s encouragement, Gavino attended an information seminar in Los Angeles to see what the school was all about. After speaking with a RUSM advisor and explaining his personal situation, he applied, was accepted after his interview, and—as he says it—the rest is history.

Taking the First Steps Toward His MD

Gavino started his medical training in January of 2004 on RUSM's highly advanced campus on the island of Dominica in the Caribbean.

“What’s good about [Dominica] is that you don’t have the distractions you’d expect at US medical schools, where you’re in a city or densely populated area,” he says. “I was able to focus exclusively on my studies, and that was a huge advantage to me.”

That focus came in handy while undergoing RUSM’s rigorous preclinical curriculum, during which students spend the early part of their training mastering the fundamentals of medicine. “Their curriculum is really geared toward empowering you to perform well—not just in your preclinical studies, but also clinical rotations, the USMLE, and even residency,” he says. 

Check out a video detailing our curriculum, plus some of our advanced technology, here.

Multiple Residency Offers During His Clinical Rotations in the US

“We were always there on time: always helpful, we always volunteered first, and we were always prepared for any of the presentations that we needed to give as clinical students. That’s really how Ross trains you to be [during the basic sciences].”

—Ariel Gavino, MD, speaking about how RUSM's Foundations of Medicine curriculum set him up for success during clinicals

After heading back to the US for clinical rotations, Gavino felt that he was actually ahead of the curve in some ways when compared to the US students he was rotating with. “That’s another good thing about attending Ross,” he says. “We were prepared for the hard stuff. That really strengthened us when we did our rotations.”

It didn’t hurt that he had a good amount of medically related experience from his two previous jobs, either. “I performed my own EKGs, blood draws, arterial blood gas tests, and IV placements,” he says. “I was already trained in that, so I taught it to some of the US medical school students.”

He ended up getting a lot of meaningful face-to-face time with attending physicians and residents during the clinical experience, perhaps due to a philosophy that he refers to as “first in and last out.” This means, simply, that he was the first person at the hospital for rotations and the last person to leave.

“We were always there on time: always helpful, we always volunteered first, and we were always prepared for any of the presentations that we needed to give as clinical students,” he says. “That’s really how Ross trains you to be.”

Given that he received multiple residency offers during his time in clinicals, it would appear that his dedication paid off.

“I wasn’t only being encouraged to apply for psychiatry residencies,” he says. “Directors from internal medicine programs, surgical programs, Emergency Department programs—they were all asking me to go ahead and apply, because they thought I’d do well.”

Ultimately, he selected a psychiatry residency at Maricopa Medical Center in Arizona. He says psychiatry, which he describes as an “art”, gives him the ability to achieve a good balance between spending time with his family and caring for patients.

Gavino is a regular fixture at RUSM information seminars on the West Coast, usually California and Arizona—and he has nothing but love for his alma mater. “That’s why I always volunteer,” he says. “I’m very happy; Ross gave me the opportunity to fulfill my dreams of becoming a doctor. I’ll never forget that.”

Want to meet Dr. Gavino? He'll be speaking and answering questions at our March 7 Information Seminar in Irvine, California. Sign up here


Tags: Alumni , Residency , California

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