Ross University Blog

MATCH: Two Tragic Stories Started This New Resident on Her Path to Practice Medicine

April 08, 2015

Sommerhalder and Veatch, RUSM alumni
January 2015 RUSM graduate Sisi Li (above) matched into her first choice for residency: University of Toronto's family medicine program.

For January 2015 graduate Sisi Li—like many of her classmates at Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM)—the seeds that would ultimately grow into a calling to practice medicine were planted early in life, when she was still a young child. But unlike other RUSM graduates, her path to practice didn’t start with toy stethoscopes or stuffed animals standing in for patients.

Instead, it started with her hearing two tragic stories that impacted her family before she was ever born—stories that affected her more than she knew at the time.

“When I was about 6 or 7 years old, I learned that my father and grandfather had both lost younger siblings very early in life from childhood accidents–one in a drowning, and the other in a choking episode,” she says.

Those lives, she says, didn’t have to end that way; if anyone in those situations had even the most basic knowledge of CPR or the Heimlich maneuver, things could have been different.

“I knew, from then on, that medicine—with its ability to affect such great change in the lives
of others, particularly in their greatest moments of need—was what I wanted to pursue with my life,” she says.

After Matching, Li Is Heading Back Home to Canada for Residency

In March 2015, after four years as a RUSM student, Li logged in to the Canada Resident Matching Service (CaRMS)—along with hundreds of Canadian medical school students hoping for their first choice in residency—to see how she’d fared in the Canadian match. In the years before this, she’d completed the Foundations of Medicine (basic sciences) program in Dominica and completed her clinical years in the United States and Canada.

Would her hard work pay off?

“Everything boiled down to that one moment, she says. “My hands were shaking. I’m fairly certain I was hyperventilating.”

She’d matched. University of Toronto, family medicine. Her first choice.

“After seeing that I had matched to my number one choice, I basically dissolved into a crying, hysterical and elated mess,” Li says. “Matching back home has been my goal since starting at RUSM—going to Dominica, and then bouncing across North America over the last four years, has really reinforced how important my family and friends are to me.”

In July 2015, Li will start her residency back in Ontario, close to her family, friends, and her fiancé, who just earned his MBA.

What She Learned at Ross—About Medicine, and About Herself

When starting medical school, Li knew going in that her primary focus would be primary care.

“The personal patient interactions, continuity of care—those were the things that I really valued as I thought about my future career plans,” she says. Through clinical rotations, Li was exposed to some “truly great” programs and specialties that, ultimately, she would have been very happy pursuing.

“But when I sat down to make a rank order list—when I really started thinking about what I wanted with my career in medicine—the ability to provide comprehensive care to such diverse patient populations was what made me ultimately select family medicine,” she says.

Picking her top choice of residency program, she says, was a much easier decision.

“Not only would I be close to home,” she says, “but I’d also be able to join the ranks of the largest family medicine training program in North America, training in some of the best academic and community hospitals in Canada.”

Li learned more at RUSM than just what specialty she wanted to practice in, she says. She learned perseverance and determination—qualities she says will serve her well in residency training. RUSM taught her to be resourceful, to be prepared to handle anything that comes at her in the field of medicine. And she learned that every other student on that island was in the same boat as her, that everyone was in this together.

“Since my first day on the island, I’ve been overwhelmed with the incredible sense of student camaraderie and support,” she says. “Students are happy to do whatever they possibly can to help each other out, which I think is a fantastic attitude to carry with you in your career.”

Through giving back to the school—by serving as a peer tutor and neuroscience teaching assistant while at RUSM—she even discovered she had a hidden passion for teaching.

“I’m very keen to be able to incorporate teaching into my future practice while working closely with medical students and residents,” she says.

On the immediate future? “I’m keeping a very open mind as I approach residency training,” she says. Options include possibly pursuing fellowship training in academic family medicine or obstetrics/women’s health.

But for now, four years after enrolling at RUSM, Sisi Li is going home for her next big step toward the practice of medicine.

We're close to finalizing our complete list of residencies for 2015. Please check our residency page regularly in the coming days!

Tags: Canada , Residency , Alumni

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