Ross University Blog

RUSM alumnus named Physician of the Year

May 30, 2014

Agostino Cervone, MD (RUSM ’94) has been named Physician of the Year by Peconic Bay Medical Center (PBMC) in Riverhead, NY.

The PBMC serves Riverhead is the largest hospital on Long Island’s east end. Dr. Cervone has been with PBMC for 15 years. He held a variety of positions there, including chief of surgery and president of the medical staff. A general surgeon, he specializes in robotic and minimally invasive procedures, and is now the director of general robotic surgery at the hospital.

Read more about Dr. Cervone in the Southampton Press.

Tags: Alumni

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Residency Fair Gives Students Expert Advice on Preparing to Enter the Match

May 29, 2014

Dr. Nancy Selfridge (left) advises students on preparing for residency.

Dr. Nancy Selfridge (left) advises students on preparing for residency.

At the Residency Fair on May 24, 2014, Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) students had an opportunity to hear from experts in six areas of medicine, and to have individual questions answered by visiting residency program directors and RUSM faculty members and department chairs. Held on the heels of the Professionalism Conference, the event drew many third and fourth semester students to the scenic Seaside Deck where tables were set up for family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, OB/GYN, psychiatry and surgery. Students were able to obtain invaluable advice about how to put together a strong application, how to stand out as a candidate, and what they can do to help secure the best residency match to further their career goals.

“Get good letters of recommendation,” advised Dr. Alison Dobbie, RUSM’s Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education. She added that the letters did not necessarily need to be from physicians in the same area of medicine as the residency for which the student is applying. “I’m a family physician. Do I mind getting a letter from an internist? Not at all.”

One student asked, “Would you agree that your Step score just gets you to an interview?”

“Yes,” Dr. Dobbie replied. “They’ve invited to come for an interview. They haven’t ruled you out. As a program director, I couldn’t remember which applicant scored what; if the score was really high I’d remember.”

Several students expressed concern about knowing what information to put in a personal statement when applying for a residency. “With family medicine, you want to bring something extra to the table,” said Dr. Dobbie. “If you have any publications, have shown some creativity, or have demonstrated communication skills, that’s important.”

“What about sounding arrogant on an application?” a student asked.

“Facts are facts,” responded Dr. Dobbie. “If you’re a black belt, write that down; if you ran five marathons, write that down. Any additional language is good, especially if you go to N.Y., Dallas, or another big city. Even if you’re not fluent, the connection with a patient who speaks that language can be phenomenal.”

“What about other jobs you’ve had?” asked a student.

Dr. Dobbie replied that, “You definitely want to put down your prior jobs on the application. If you worked a proper job, I want to know that. You are students who have other, positive, things to bring. You speak other languages. You’ve been to other countries. You are grownups.”

Additionally, Dr. Dobbie advised, the way to succeed during clinical rotations and to achieve the credentials and letters of recommendation for an outstanding residency application are: “Turn up early every day, fresh and shiny, appropriately dressed. If you don’t know what to wear, go the first day in a shirt and tie. Scrubs are sometimes acceptable, but don’t ever turn up the first day in scrubs.”

Tags: Residency

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Teaching Empathy in Medical School Benefits Future Patients - by Dr. Joseph Flaherty, RUSM Dean

May 20, 2014

Dr. Joseph A. Flaherty, Dean and Chancellor at Ross University School of Medicine

Dr. Joseph A. Flaherty, Dean and Chancellor at Ross University School of Medicine

It has become increasingly clear that physicians’ interpersonal skills are essential to their practice of medicine. The link between the lack of such skills and adverse outcomes has come into focus in recent years in relation to medical malpractice claims. Dr. Gerald Hickson and his colleagues at Vanderbilt University have shown that patient complaints are as likely to be related to physician behaviors as the more serious medical problems being treated. They have developed an intervention program that has proven to be remarkably effective.  It starts with peers talking candidly to physicians identified at high risk for such complaints.

Most physicians at high risk are unaware that their lack of empathetic behavior might be the cause of patients’ complaints. Malpractice is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to concerns patients have about their encounters with physicians. The larger issue is the number of patients leaving doctors’ offices feeling that they have been misunderstood, unheard, and were not being involved as partners in the decision making. Partly addressing these concerns, the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) has made significant changes in its Step 2 Clinical Skills exam, now focusing on interpersonal behavior as much as clinical thinking and problem solving.

At the core of efforts to improve physician behaviors and communication is the question of whether empathy is innate or can be taught. The answer to this question is the same as for most complex behaviors; there is an innate component that may set range limits of behavior within which there is great opportunity for environmental influences, including education. Some of the most compelling films I have viewed on the development of empathy show the responses of children of different ages to a frustrated and crying child. Younger children react only by  looking up to see what is going on, while older children approach the crying child and offer a toy or a pat on the back. These types of empathic behavior, which have been shown to increase with age, and to develop earlier in girls, have wide individual variations, which may continue into adulthood.

Those who view interpersonal skills such as empathy as innate favor a selection process for medical school that looks for these skills in prospective students.  This is done by means of an interview which, while I believe is helpful, I do not think that it can accurately select for empathy. Forty years ago, when the vast majority of doctors went into primary care, perhaps they self-selected for their interest in the human dimension of practice. Popular television shows at the time, like "Dr. Kildare" and "Marcus Welby MD" highlighted this phenomenon. Currently medical education is taking good advantage of high technology and the scientific skills needed to practice good medicine. Not surprisingly, television shows like "HOUSE," which featured a phenomenal diagnostician with weak interpersonal skills, or the more likeable character in the UK series Doc Martin are popular among students.

Can we teach empathy to our students? Yes!  Last year Batt-Rawden and his colleagues in the UK published a review in Academic Medicine of 18 studies on the teaching of empathy, showing that you can improve empathy in medical school as well as reverse its decline. Effective programs to achieve this goal included basic interview courses, and learning through drama, writing, creative arts, and mentoring experiences. Evidence from other research suggests close observation and videotaping of student patient encounters, with feedback provided in small groups, can help students to focus on the subtleties of patient communication, to more correctly perceive patient affect, and to ask clarifying questions that permit mastery of one of the essential tools of empathy -- correctly identifying patient affect and responding to it.

Can we do better at Ross University School of Medicine? Of course we can. We should also take full advantage of the experiences we have in place starting with interviewing the patients in our host country, Dominica, and continuing through the tremendous diversity of practices and patient demographic experiences in the US and UK. We need to emphasize this aspect of learning to the advantage of our students and to the benefit of their future patients.

Tags: Leadership

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White Coat Ceremony Held for RUSM Class of 2018

May 16, 2014

Dr. Cheau Williams and his wife Dr. Betty Koukis

Dr. Cheau Williams and his wife Dr. Betty Koukis

“You future doctors are going to make a difference in this world,” Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) senior associate dean, Wm. Lynn Weaver, MD, told the Class of 2018 at the White Coat Ceremony on May 16. “Welcome to the first doorway you step through on your way to achieving your goal of becoming a physician.”

Dr. Paula Wales, senior associate dean for students, welcomed the group, and stated, “We celebrate your diversity.” She highlighted some interesting demographics of the group. About 57% are male and 43% female; the average age is 26, with the range from 19-59. They were born in 39 countries, with the US in the top spot with the largest number of natives, and India coming in second. Of the American students, more come from California than from any other state, and the second-largest number come from Florida, Wales said.

The event was attended by the President of Dominica His Excellency, Mr. Charles Savarin and Mrs. Savarin. Representing the prime minister of the country was the Honorable Ian Douglas, minister for tourism, and a Member of Parliament for Portsmouth, where the campus is located. “Ross University School of Medicine and Dominica share a special and unique relationship,” Douglas said. “They have forged a great partnership that continues to be very fruitful.” 

The keynote speaker was Cheau Williams, MD, MSN, a graduate of the RUSM class of 2006, as was his wife, Betty Koukis, who accompanied him. The couple met while they were medical students. They have two children. Dr. Williams is the director of urogynecology and female pelvic reconstructive surgery at Colquitt Regional Medical Center in Moultrie, GA. “I was sitting right there 11 years ago,” Dr. Williams said, pointing at his audience of students. His inspirational message to them included what he called” the three Ps – prepare, perseverance, passion.”

Alexandra Mitchell, president of the Student Government Association Honor Council led the new physicians-in-training in the Honor Pledge.

Tags: Campus , Alumni

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Watch the live video stream of the White Coat ceremony featuring Dr. Cheau Williams (RUSM ’06)

May 16, 2014

White Coat ceremony features alumnus Dr. Cheau Williams (RUSM ’06)Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) first semester students are ushered into their new roles as physicians-in-training during the traditional White Coat ceremony. On May 16 alumni member, Cheau Williams, MD, MSN, serves as the guest speaker at the White Coat ceremony. A graduate of the RUSM class of 2006, Dr. Williams is the director of urogynecology and female pelvic reconstructive surgery at Colquitt Regional Medical Center in Moultrie, GA.

“Everything has changed, and it’s all for the best,” said Dr. Williams after a campus and island tour. It had been 12 years since he first arrived in Dominica to begin his studies, and he was impressed by the improvements in everything from technology to food choices, he said. Accompanying Dr. Williams was his wife, Betty Koukis, also a graduate of the RUSM class of 2006. The couple met while they were medical students. They have two children.

This special event will be streamed live on the Internet for the viewing pleasure of family and friends. The live stream will begin at 1:30 pm. The ceremony begins at 2pm.

 

Tags: Campus , Alumni

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Dr. Tim Hoang (Class of 2007) joins family medicine group in St. Louis

May 15, 2014

Congratulations to Dr. Tim Hoang, a 2007 alumnus of Ross University School of Medicine, who has joined Esse Health, a physician group in the St. Louis area of Missouri. Dr. Hoang is a Board-certified family medicine physician with a special interest in caring for families. He completed his residency training in family medicine at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Michigan. 

Tags: Alumni , Missouri

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RUSM Student Changed Careers to Pursue Medical Education

May 05, 2014

His father’s illness and growing concern for access to medical care in Kawartha Lakes in Ontario, Canada were the catalysts for RUSM student and chiropractor Dr. Mike Fagan to change careers at age 40 and pursue a medical education. As articulated in the Brampton Guardian, Dr. Fagan has found success in drawing upon his professional experience when it comes to his lessons in anatomy and neurology and lessons on patient care. 
 

Tags: Canada

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