MEDICAL SCHOOL FACTS FOR PARENTS: CAMPUS, CLINICALS AND BEYOND

About Dominica | Living on the IslandHousing | Clubs Safety and SecurityFun Things to Do | Clinicals in the US

RUSM Parents Guide Dominica IntroMany parents approach us wondering about the island of Dominica, where our students complete the Foundations of Medicine (basic sciences) portion of their medical education before traveling to the United States for the Clinical Medicine (clinical rotations) segment. It is, perhaps, a different type of campus environment than the one your son or daughter may expect—Dominica has been alternately described by students and visitors as rustic, beautiful, rigorous, and empowering. We think there's a lot to love, but also a lot to learn, about this quiet Caribbean island that will serve as the initial backdrop for your son or daughter's medical education before he/she heads to the United States or Canada for clinical training.

About Dominica

Dominica (pronounced dahm-uh-NEE-kuh) is located in the arc of islands along the eastern edge of the Caribbean Sea, between the French islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique, 400 miles southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Dominica is the most mountainous island in the Caribbean RUSM Parents Guide Dominica Introand nearly half of its 290-square-mile rugged, mountainous terrain is made up of dense rainforest. Many visitors already travel here for the sights and experiences: The country is home to rainforests, waterfalls, hot springs, and numerous diving spots, plus local flora and fauna that you can’t find anywhere else. 

Culture: The culture of Dominica is a mixture of Native American, African, and European influences. The island had long been settled by the Arawak and Carib people when Columbus visited in November of 1493. For hundreds of years, the French and British battled over the island until the early 1800s, when the British took possession and kept it until 1978, when Dominica gained full independence. Today, Dominica is governed by a parliamentary democracy with an assembly, president, and prime minister.

Climate: The climate in the Eastern Caribbean is semitropical, with temperatures in the 80s during the day and in the 70s at night. There are two seasons: Dry (from December through June) and Wet (the remainder of the year). During the summer, island highs can reach the 90s, with winter being only slightly cooler, averaging anywhere between 84 degrees Fahrenheit and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures are moderated by the cooling northeastern trade winds. Hurricanes are a risk in the early fall in Dominica, as they are to most parts of the Caribbean (and southeastern regions of the US). The RUSM campus and community are well equipped to deal with them.

RUSM Parents Guide Dominica IntroPeople: The majority of Dominicans make their living by fishing or farming. The environment is friendly, and because students live off campus, they come to experience quite a bit of island life. Dominicans live mostly in the coastal areas, as the interior is too mountainous to cultivate crops. Dominica is proud of its Kalinago people—some 3,000 Carib Indians live on a 3,700-acre reserve on the east coast of the island. Each February, Roseau comes alive with Carnival Mas Domnik, one of the most traditional forms of Carnival in the Caribbean, where you can see costumes dating back well over a century that originated in Africa.

Major Towns: Dominica has three principal towns: Roseau (ROSE-oh) is the capital and largest town; the airport is located in Marigot; and Portsmouth is home to RUSM. The road system has been constructed to connect these towns and access certain attractions.

Money and Currency:  Dominica uses Eastern Caribbean currency, referred to as EC dollars. The exchange rate is approximately 2.67 EC dollars to one United States dollar. Most business establishments readily accept the United States dollar, but the exchange rate may be somewhat lower than the official rate. Local merchants will not accept personal checks drawn on American banks. Major credit cards and traveler’s checks are typically accepted by businesses, although small vendors may not accept them.  

Electricity: The electrical standard in Dominica is 220 or 240 volts at 50 cycles—different from electricity in the United States, which is 110 or 120 at 60 cycles. While RUSM operates using the 110 standard, students will need adapters off campus. Electrical outlets in Dominica are made to accept appliances with United Kingdom-style, three-prong plugs.

Time Zone: Dominica is on Atlantic Standard Time, which is four hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. Depending on whether the daylight-saving period is being observed, this places the island four or five hours behind the United Kingdom and five or six hours behind most of Europe.

Living on the Island

From the moment students arrive on campus, Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) is committed to making every student's stay in Dominica as comfortable as possible with a wide range of housing opportunities, support for families, and more.

RUSM Parents Guide Dominica IntroLocal Travel: It is easy to get around Dominica. Taxi service is available, as are small buses or vans that travel the highways, picking up and dropping off passengers on request. Official taxi fares are posted at the airports; keep in mind that figures are listed in Eastern Caribbean dollars. If your son or daughter buys a car or motorcycle, note that driving is done on the left. Be forewarned that Dominican roads are windy due to its mountainous terrain. On campus, motorcyclists are required to wear helmets; however, it is strongly advised that they be worn at all times. Pedestrian traffic on sidewalks and stairways also stays to the left. Proof of automobile or motorcycle insurance is required.

Food: The cuisine of Dominica is made up of French, West African, and Carib influences. Chicken and fish seasoned with local spices are daily staples. Pumpkin soup, fresh fruit, and salads are also common. Dominica is famous for the quality of its water. There is locally grown coffee and a local beer. On-campus food options include the SUBWAY® shop located in the Seaside Building. There is also a food court adjacent to the campus where vendors sell a variety of local and specialty foods.RUSM Parents Guide Dominica Intro

Groceries: An Independent Grocers Alliance (IGA) store is located close to campus. This store generally offers a large variety of goods, but stock can vary based on the time of year. 

Restaurants: There are several different kinds of restaurants close to the RUSM campus, in nearby Portsmouth and in the capital city, Roseau. There, students can dine on local cuisine, fresh fish, Italian, Indian, and Chinese, as well as standard North American fare: pizza, burgers, steaks, subs, and more.

Health Center: The Health Center on campus is available to students during regular business hours. The health clinic provides urgent and primary care, as well as over-the-counter and prescription medications. A trained counseling staff, including a psychiatrist and psychologists, is available to students.

Religious Services: Many religious denominations are represented in Dominica. In addition, students have organized denominational groups for religious services, including Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim. Religious holidays are not observed by the University; all classes proceed as scheduled.

Business Hours: Businesses are typically open Monday through Friday and weekends, although some business establishments are closed on Sunday and/or may have seasonal hours, which are subject to change.

RUSM Parents Guide Dominica IntroBanking: Banking facilities exist in both Portsmouth and Roseau, including on campus. Students are advised to open a local account.  All commercial banks are closed on weekends. There are two ATMs on campus, which allow you to withdraw funds from your local Dominican bank account or your US bank account (fees will apply). Local banks will negotiate checks drawn on US banks. However, it can take up to six weeks for such checks to clear. Students may also choose to wire transfer funds to Dominica. Funds that are wire transferred are almost immediately negotiable.

Drug Policy: RUSM maintains a drug-free campus and workplace. This is consistent with the requirements of the Higher Education Act.

Pets: Cats and dogs are permitted in Dominica, though it is important to adhere to Dominica regulations when bringing your animal with you. Dominica requires an import permit for dogs and cats to enter the country. Please carefully read and follow applicable guidelines, which you can find here.

Keep in mind that having your pet may limit your son or daughter's housing options. Many landlords do not allow pets or require an additional security deposit.

Housing

RUSM Parents Guide Dominica IntroAll students are required to book housing prior to their arrival in Dominica. RUSM's Housing Database will be accessible via students' myRoss accounts approximately 60 days prior to the start of the semester. The site allows students to search through a large variety of housing types and price levels. They can search by specific criteria, view photos of the accommodations, and view details regarding location, rent, and amenities. The Housing Department has inspected and approved each property listed and will continue to maintain and update the information contained on the website.

Apartment prices may range from $350 USD to $1,000+ USD per month, depending on the proximity of the apartment to the campus and the amenities offered. All apartments require a security deposit in advance.

Clubs and Activities

RUSM students can choose from a wide variety of academic, physical, and community-oriented clubs and organizations on campus. A few examples include:

Clubs that focus on physical activity: Students can join intramural leagues for basketball, cricket, football, hockey, kickball, soccer, softball, and tennis. If your son or daughter isn't interested in competitive sports and would rather focus on staying fit and healthy, students can use our on-campus gym, participate in yoga or Zumba, and more.

RUSM Parents Guide Dominica IntroThe Salybia Mission Project: In addition to the global experience that you automatically receive by attending a Caribbean medical school, students can participate in a wide array of activities geared toward giving back and helping others. The most well-known of these is probably the Salybia Mission Project, a nonprofit organization -- made up of and run by RUSM students -- devoted to providing much-needed medical care to the indigenous Carib population of Dominica.

Medically themed clubs: Students have plenty of medically themed clubs and organizations to choose from, including the Neuroscience Society, the Family Medicine Club, the Ross University Pediatric Students Association, and the Surgery Club.

Religious groups: RUSM welcomes students of varying religious and spiritual backgrounds. Religion-specific organizations include the Hindu Student Council, Jewish Student Association, Muslim Student Association, the Ross Catholic Student Association, Ross Christian Fellowship, Ross Orthodox Coptic Christians, and the Sikh Student Association.

Check out a comprehensive list of clubs and organizations at RUSM here.

Campus Security

RUSM Parents Guide Dominica IntroRUSM takes campus safety and security very seriously. In accordance with US Department of Education requirements, information about security and safety practices, as well as campus crime statistics, are published annually. This information is distributed to current students and may be obtained, upon request, by any prospective student.

RUSM employs a cadre of security officers to provide 24-hour on-campus security to the University, its students, and staff. There are 26 full-time security officers. All security officers have received in-house training, supplemented by formal training at the Dominica Police Training School. Thus, they are capable of providing a high level of professional service.

Fun Things To Do In Dominica

Known as the “Nature Island," Dominica lies at the top of the Windward Islands in the West Indies. If hiking, scuba diving or simply being outside in a beautiful environment appeals to your son or daughter, then they will likely find Dominica a very special place.

RUSM Parents Guide Dominica IntroThe island is twenty-nine miles long and sixteen miles wide. The landscape of Dominica is one of lush foliage draping cloud-shrouded, dormant volcanic peaks. The seas are crystalline, the coast (and beaches) is rugged and the cliffs are dramatic.  The island is laced with rivers fed by an annual rainfall from 40 inches on the coast to 300 inches in the interior.

Dominica’s forests abound with rare birds, flowers and animals, including the world's largest parrot, a beaver without a tail and a giant frog. Beautiful waterfalls and extraordinary underwater seascapes have all contributed to Dominica’s reputation among those who truly enjoy the beauty of a natural, unspoiled environment.

Want to explore Dominica even more? Check out videos and pictures on our Pinterest page.

Onward to Clinicals in the US

After wrapping up the Foundations of Medicine curriculum on Dominica, your son or daughter will then head to the United States and Canada for the clinical portion of his or her medical education.

RUSM aims to maintain a geographically diverse clinical network, and has sites in New York, California, Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Georgia, and elsewhere around the United States. Here's a general breakdown of the clinical education experience at RUSM:

Internal Medicine Foundations (6 weeks in Florida): Clinical education begins with Internal Medicine Foundations (IMF), a six-week required clerkship that takes what your son or daughter learned during the Foundations of Medicine curriculum and uses it as a bridge to clinical learning. IMF emphasizes honing students' physical examination and diagnostic skills; sharpening critical-thinking and communication skills for use in a clinical setting; and developing a more thorough knowledge of mechanism of disease processes. Students will also boost clinical acumen by making written and oral presentations in a patient-care setting.

RUSM Parents Guide Dominica IntroCore Clinical Rotations (44 weeks):  After completing the IMF clerkship, students move on to your "cores"—the basic areas of medical practice about which all physicians need to be knowledgeable. They are included in the curriculum of every medical school. This phase of the program lasts 44 weeks, and takes place in United States or Canadian teaching hospitals that are affiliated with RUSM. In many cases, RUSM students can complete all core rotations at the same hospital, rather than having to travel from facility to facility.

Elective Rotations: Students spend the final 40 weeks of your clinical experience participating in elective clerkships. Explore a list of elective rotation opportunities here. As with core rotations, students often can complete all elective rotations either at the same hospital or within the same general geographic area.

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