Ross University Blog

ALUMNI: Dr. Eric Neilson (RUSM ’09) Returns as Visiting Professor

February 01, 2016

A graduate of RUSM’s class of 2009, Eric Neilson, MD, a family medicine doctor, has returned to Dominica as a visiting professor in the department of clinical medicine.

“I’m teaching small groups clinically relevant topics,” he explained, “like physical exam skills, and practice on standardized patients.” 

This is the first time that Dr. Neilson, 36, has come back to the island since he left when he was a student, to do his clinical clerkships in the US. “But I’ve been back in my dreams and in my imagination,” he said. “I love it here. Dominica gave me a lot. I wanted to come back, to give back, not only to RUSM, but to the community.”

In the intervening years he has traveled widely and worked as a physician, a teacher, and a volunteer in India, Honduras, Cameroon, Zambia and New Zealand, and he served in a Peace Corps program in Tanzania.

A native of California, Dr. Neilson earned his undergraduate degree in microbiology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “I always wanted to be a doctor,” he related, “but after college I felt I needed a break from studying. So I was a teacher and taught high school science for three years at an underserved school. That was very difficult, very tough.”

When he was ready to apply to medical school, it was the fact that RUSM has three start dates a year that was one factor leading him to choose the school. “I had everything lined up,” he said. “My grades were good, my board scores were pretty good, but I would have had to wait a year and a half to start at a US medical school.”

A self-described “big outdoors person” he enjoys hiking, biking, sailing, surfing and diving. The “lush, untouched” nature island offers opportunities to engage in all of these activities now, just as he did when he was a student.

Dr. Neilson said that he was very impressed with the new Student Center, the expanded simulation lab, and campus and community enhancements, like the many food options that were not available in his time on the island.

“I really enjoy teaching the future doctors of America and the world,” he said. “Getting them at the beginning of their careers I have an opportunity to help shape their goals and improve their skills.”

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