Ross University Blog

ALUMNI: For This Grad, First-Choice Residency Is the Role of a Lifetime

December 15, 2015

Ary Kian, RUSM alumnus, is undergoing a psychiatry residency at Kaiser Permanente
RUSM graduate Ary Kian, MD (above) is undergoing a psychiatry residency at Kaiser Permanente, Fontana, Calif.

“My role is the healer, or the person who will help,” says Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) alumnus Ary Kian, MD, as he draws upon his former acting experience and makes an analogy between the dynamics of the patient-physician relationship and the interaction among cast members in theater. “Everyone has a role, especially if family members are involved. By listening and responding to patients’ stories, I can gather their histories and create an environment in which they feel safe and comfortable.” Dr. Kian is a psychiatry resident at Kaiser Permanente in Fontana, Calif. and for him, it’s the role of a lifetime.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree in media arts and communications, Dr, Kian knew he wanted to become a doctor, but he thought that avenue might be closed. He was working as a waiter, taking premed courses, and struggling to make ends meet, when he saw a RUSM seminar at his university. Immediately he thought it was a perfect fit.

“I was an alternative student, and they are looking for more things than your MCAT score,” he says.  

A Medical School Experience That Opened Doors to Opportunity

Once in Dominica, Dr. Kian found that he possessed more than enthusiasm. He had a knack for understanding the brain’s inner workings. In fact, he did so well in his neuroscience courses that he became the neuroscience teaching assistant (TA) in his final semester. That experience, he says, opened doors and led him to consider specializing in psychiatry.

He knew he had made the right choice when he cared for a patient from El Salvador during his clinical rotations at RUSM-affiliated Kern Medical Center (KMC) in Bakersfield, Calif. The woman had come to the United States as a teenager fleeing her country’s civil war and worked in the fields of California. “She had witnessed father and brothers getting killed in front of her,” recalls Dr. Kian. “Later, as an adult she started seeing visions of them telling her to kill herself and come join them.” She was considering taking their advice, but fortunately she went to Kern for help instead.

Dr. Kian worked with her and prescribed antidepressant and antipsychotic medications, which elevated her moods. “She started becoming lively and happy and attending church again,” he says. “Seeing her transformation was a solidifying moment for me. I said, ‘I need to do this.’”

Currently, Dr. Kian is receiving training in inpatient and outpatient neurology, emergency medicine, and family medicine at Kaiser. After six months, he will spend another six months training in inpatient psychiatry. He says that he enjoys the autonomy he receives, and values being able to work in an environment that serves a predominantly Hispanic population where he can work to address the healthcare system’s mental health disparities.

"Ross Students Would Have All the Answers"

Kaiser was his first-choice residency. He believes that he was able to match there through a combination of persistence, teaching experience, and research experience, which included completing eight research protocols during his third-year clinical rotations at Kern. One of his studies, which looked at vitamin B12 supplementation in patients with treatment-resistant depression, received awards and resulted in Kian presenting his findings at the Pacific Rim College of Psychiatry in Vancouver, B.C. During residency interviews, he says, “people were impressed by how much research I had done. But there is so much pathology at Kern it was easy to do it there.”

Dr. Kian says that RUSM prepared him well for his residency. “I always felt like Ross [University School of Medicine] wanted us to outshine other interns because we were foreign grads. And we did. When we were asked things like ‘name five rashes in pediatrics patients’ the Ross [University School of Medicine] students would all have the answers.”

Ultimately, Dr. Kian hopes to remain at Kaiser working as an adult psychiatrist specializing in forensics or addiction. “I love the field. I love neuroscience and I enjoy working with psychiatry patients,” he says. “They are very interesting, and they like to work hard, receive help, and be listened to. I like the interactions I have with them. It’s a joy.”

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Tags: Alumni , Clinical Program , Residency

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