Ross University Blog

THE TOP 15 FROM 2015: Some of Our Favorite Stories This Year

December 22, 2015

As 2015 draws to a close, we're looking back at some of our most interesting and exciting stories. From clinical updates to student and graduate success stories, help us say goodbye to 2015 with some of our favorite posts from this year!

MATCH: 800+ RUSM Grads Earn Residencies in 2015, Breaking Institutional Records

We're very proud to announce that more than 800 Ross University School of Medicine graduates earned residency appointments in 2015. Our alumni earned residencies in very competitive specialties—like ophthalmology, neurology, and surgery—while also obtaining placements in primary care programs, like internal medicine, pediatrics, and family medicine. With our new residency total, we’ve broken institutional records for the second year in a row. >> Read More

OPPORTUNITY: RUSM Students Join US Navy Ship COMFORT Clinics on Medical Mission in Dominica

About 900 Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) students joined medical personnel from the US Navy’s hospital ship USNS COMFORT to provide health services to people in Dominica while the ship was docked there between July 28 and Aug. 6. >> Read More

ALUMNI PROFILE: One Grad's Path from Teacher, to Student, to Resident of the Year

Ray King, MD, PhD, a RUSM Class of 2010 graduate, was just named Resident of the Year at the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) at Georgia Regents University, Augusta. Dr. King is the chief resident in surgery, and is just about to complete his training. It goes without saying that we’re immensely proud of Dr. King’s accomplishment, but—given the caliber of our students and graduates—we also aren’t that surprised. What might surprise you, though, is the path he ultimately took to become a physician. Because it’s the opposite of what you’d expect. >> Read More

CLINICAL SPOTLIGHT: Making Our Strong Clinical Program Even Stronger

We’re excited about some of the great new developments in the clinical program at Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM). From dedicated student support teams to new U.S. regional hubs that serve as convenient, single-location “academic homes” for our clinical students, there’s a lot for our students to look forward to—and even more enhancements headed your way in the future. >> Read More

ADMISSIONS ADVICE: Steps for Success on Your Medical School Interview

The medical school interview is a crucial component of the admissions process, and can make or break your candidacy for medical school. Your credentials and accomplishments on paper have gotten you this far—now, the school is asking for the opportunity to get to know you in person. That’s a big deal. We sat down with Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) Graduate Admissions Advisor Matt Fessler, who had some helpful suggestions on how to prepare and conduct yourself to ensure you will stand out in your interview. >> Read More

CHIEF RESIDENTS: RUSM Grads Earn Chief Resident Spots for 2015-2016 Residency Year

Hundreds of Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) graduates started residency training just a few months ago, in July. In the meantime, many of our graduates who are already deep in their training have earned the distinction of being named chief residents for the 2015-2016 year. Chief residents are generally appointed by the program director of a given residency program, and they’re entrusted with developing clinical rotation schedules, performing administrative duties, and supervising junior residents, among other responsibilities. Curious whether a friend or classmate of yours was appointed chief resident recently? Check out the list. >> Read More

STUDENTS: RUSM Clinical Student Gets Published on Major Healthcare Blog

The first time Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) clinical student Marc Katz submitted a piece of his writing to—a popular,  influential healthcare blog run by New Hampshire-based internal medicine physician Kevin Pho —he didn’t think much of it. The day after he submitted the post, he was surprised to see he had already gotten an email back saying his story was accepted. His initial thought? “Well…I guess people are going to see this now,” he laughs. >> Read More 

ALUMNI PROFILE: RUSM Grad Who Completed MERP Is Now Chief Resident in Surgery

Sola Fasusi, MD, readily admits that when he found out that he’d been recommended to the Medical Education Readiness Program (MERP), his pride took a hit. He had already had been waitlisted at two United States medical schools, had taken the MCAT twice, and had applied to Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) only after a friend mentioned the school in passing. He was granted conditional acceptance to RUSM, on the condition that he successfully complete MERP before starting as a first-semester med student. “It was a shot to my ego,” remembers Dr. Fasusi. “But it fueled a fire in me, and I realized I had two decisions: either wait to see if I could possibly get into one of those two US medical schools, or take the RUSM opportunity now.” He chose the latter. And he’s glad he did. >> Read More

CLINICAL SPOTLIGHT: St. Joseph Mercy Oakland, Pontiac

Established in 1927, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland (SJMO) is a long-time healthcare provider in Oakland County. A 443-bed comprehensive community and teaching hospital, SJMO is ranked in the top five percent of hospitals across the nation for clinical excellence and women’s health, and has earned a position among the top 50 US cardiovascular programs. >> Read More

VIEWPOINT: Faculty Member Sees an "Unbelievable" Transformation at RUSM

Davendra Sharma, MBBS, DM, professor and interim chair of behavioral sciences, has been at Ross University School of Medicine for over 20 years. Here, he explains not only the great transformations taking place on campus, but also his unique path from skeptic outsider to passionate advocate of the university. "We have grown as a force that is beyond comparison. We have something that goes beyond materialism. We have the commitment. We have the love for our students. That is what this school is all about, or I would not have been here so long." >> Read More

MATCH: Surgery Residency Brings RUSM Student Closer to Dream Career

Shortly after attending the Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) Match Celebration in New York on March 21, Jairo Espinosa, who is scheduled to graduate in May, plans to do some traveling. Completing his last clinical clerkship had been “very, very surreal,” he said. “It was a crazy feeling.” After all, he had been working so hard since enrolling in medical school, with barely a break. “I like to plan ahead,” he said, and so he made the arrangements for a month-long trip to Europe and Asia, right after learning where he had matched, and before he was to begin the residency. Jairo landed a surgery residency at Western Michigan University. >> Read More

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

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. >> Read More

CLINICALS: RUSM Offers United Kingdom-New Jersey Clinical Track

Ross University School of Medicine is excited to announce the new United Kingdom and New Jersey track program, dubbed the UKNJ Track. Students will spend 24 straight weeks each in the United Kingdom and in New Jersey hospitals. Students will complete surgery, pediatrics and OB/GYN clinical rotations at Queen’s Hospital in Romford, just outside of London. >> Read More

RESCUE: RUSM Faculty Save a Passenger's Life on a Plane

“Is there a doctor in the house?” is something most of us have heard only in a scene in a movie, but for two Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) physician colleagues, the urgent announcement, “Is there a doctor on the plane?” was very real. They were flying home from the RUSM Leadership Conference, held Sept. 17-19 in Cancun, Mexico. Sean Gnecco, MD, RUSM Associate Professor in the Internal Medicine Foundations program, and Assistant Dean for Clinical Sciences, Iriana Hammel, MD, FACP, AGSF, heeded the call for a doctor immediately. >> Read More

MATCH: RUSM Student Lands Her First Choice for Residency

Marcella Perez, set to graduate in May 2015 from Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM), plans to bring 25 family members to the commencement ceremony in Coral Gables, Florida. She was born and raised in New Jersey, and some relatives are coming from there, some from Tampa, and some from as far away as Colombia. And after Perez's successful Match today—at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School's Family Medicine Program, her first choice—she and her family have even more to celebrate. >> Read More

Tags: Admissions , Alumni , Canada , Clinical Program , MERP , New Jersey , New York , Residency

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LOOKING BACK: End-of-Year Message from Dean Flaherty 2015

December 18, 2015

Sommerhalder and Veatch, RUSM alumni
Joseph A. Flaherty, MD, dean and chancellor of Ross University School of Medicine

As the year 2015 comes to a close my overarching thought is a resounding thank you to every one of our Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) students, colleagues, faculty, administrators and sister schools for helping us through what might otherwise have been a most difficult year, because of Tropical Storm Erika in Dominica, and its aftermath, in August. The sense of mission and shared values was never more evident. With it came that strong feeling of kinship with all of us in Miramar, in Dominica, New Jersey and Chicago. I am particularly grateful to the Dominica colleagues and faculty who went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that classes began as scheduled.

A Look Back at Academic Success and Support

In other areas it was also a very successful year, for which I want to thank all of our dedicated colleagues. As of 2017, one hundred percent of all RUSM clinical students are now in tracks and are on schedule to complete their entire third year of medical school within 48 weeks. We have made dramatic improvement in reducing the attrition of our students and that means more and more of them will achieve their dream of becoming a physician. We are giving a pronounced look to at-risk students to see what resources they need to succeed. This support includes an increase in the use of the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), the implementation of a strong mandatory mentoring program, and required targeted remediation for students whose scores are unsatisfactory in particular disciplines. On a positive note we continue to see strong student outcomes, thanks to continued collaboration among colleagues in the Basic Sciences and Clinical programs.

New Student Center Opens, Becomes Hub for Student Community

One of the year’s highlights was the official opening of the new Student Center on the Dominica campus on May 14, marking a significant milestone in the campus’s development. The 50,000 square-foot facility represents an investment of $18 million. It is the largest building on campus and has quickly become the hub for the RUSM community as well as a welcoming facility for visitors. It houses the library, student study space, multipurpose rooms, the Center for Teaching and Learning, food facilities, including a large dining area and space for three vendors, space for a campus store and offices for the departments of Student Affairs and Student Services.

RUSM Students Volunteer to Support US Navy Medical Mission

Another highlight of 2015 was the opportunity for about 900 RUSM students to volunteer to join medical personnel from the US Navy’s hospital ship USNS COMFORT to provide health services to people in Dominica while the ship was docked there between July 28 and Aug. 6. The students were able to get early clinical exposure alongside practicing physicians, and exposure to patients in an underserved healthcare setting. These experiences will contribute to the continued development of important traits good physicians need, including empathy and a sense of service.

Making Clinicals Even More Productive for Our Students

I am very grateful to the colleagues in our clinical team for the careful reviews they have conducted at many clinical sites, and the feedback they have provided to the institutions to make them most productive for our students. They have outlined a week-by-week didactic series in each of the clinical clerkships. This is a tremendous achievement, and one that will greatly benefit our students.

A Record-Setting Year for Residencies

The most exciting news of the year is that RUSM has set another record in the number of residency appointments earned by our graduates, with 830 in 2015, the highest number in our school’s history, even though the last three years, from 2012 to 2014, have all been record-setters for us. This phenomenal trend of continually increasing numbers of successful RUSM graduates is what we work so hard to achieve. We look towards 2016 to face new challenges, ever vigilant for new opportunities.

I wish you all a good holiday season and a very happy New Year.

Tags: Leadership , Clinical Program , Student Services , Academics , USMLE , Residency

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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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IN THE MEDIA: Dean Flaherty on How RUSM Can Help with the Physician Shortage

December 14, 2015


We select students with the most grit, determination and promise and give them the opportunity to become the doctors that America so badly needs: high-quality caregivers who pass the same board exams and meet the same criteria for residency and licensure as U.S. medical students.

Excerpted from "International med schools filling a need for U.S. physicians," published in the 12/5/15 Miami Herald

This month, our own Dean and Chancellor, Joseph A. Flaherty, MD, co-wrote an opinion piece for the Miami Herald about a topic important to both healthcare providers and the patients they serve—an impending physician shortage, long predicted by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC).

Long story short: Demand for physicians continues to grow faster than supply, according to the AAMC. The organization predicts that it could reach a boiling point in 2025, by which time demand will exceed supply by between 46,000 and 90,000 physicians.

Co-written by Heidi Chumley, MD—Executive Dean of American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC)—the article posits that international medical schools like AUC and Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) are playing a critical role in filling this shortfall.

Check out the Miami Herald piece here to find out how, and join the discussion below or on our Facebook page.


Tags: Leadership

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TRANSITION: Claire Joseph Named Director of Curricular and Administrative Support

December 08, 2015

Claire Joseph
Claire Joseph, MHRM, MBA, Director of Curricular and Administrative Support

A dedicated colleague who has been at Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) for 19 years, Claire Joseph, MHRM, MBA, is transitioning from the position of Interim Director of Curriculum and Academic Director of Faculty Affairs to a new role as Director of Curricular and Administrative Support. In 1996 she joined the school as a secretary/receptionist and has held a number of increasingly responsible positions throughout the years, commensurate with her ongoing educational achievements.

Claire, a native of Dominica and a resident of Picard, Portsmouth, has availed herself of the educational benefits offered to colleagues. She earned a BA from DeVry University in 2007, and two master’s-level degrees from DeVry University’s Keller Graduate School of Management in the following years, one in Human Resource Management, and also an MBA.

In her new role, she explained that she “will be responsible for the overall administration of the operations of the curriculum division and for the implementation of effective curriculum support programs; and to provide leadership, coordination and integration of all curriculum functions and activities.” In addition, she will be responsible for providing management support and budgetary oversight and responsibility for the campus administrative support staff for all divisions and departments on the Dominica campus.

"Having a passion for what you do is more important than just doing the work."

Claire Joseph, MHRM, MBA, Director of Curricular and Administrative Support

Claire said that what she likes most about RUSM after almost two decades of employment is, “the team spirit and the fast paced nature of the campus. You are never left to do one thing all the time as opportunities are continually being created. Working at RUSM keeps you alert and gets you to be creative about things and how you can do them better,” she said. “When you know that you can assist or motivate someone to do their best and provide opportunities for growth, it is a great feeling of fulfillment. Having a passion for what you do is more important than just doing the work.”  

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NEW FACES: Meet Joy Himmel, Director of RUSM's Counseling Center

December 07, 2015

Joy Himmel, RUSM
Joy Himmel, PsyD, director of the RUSM Counseling Center in Dominica

The new director of the Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) Counseling Center on the Dominica campus, Joy Himmel, PsyD, said her first impression of the island was, “how beautiful the scenery is.” She and her husband, who arrived in late September 2015, take the opportunity to go hiking and swimming on weekends, she said.

For the past two decades, Himmel was the director of the Health and Wellness Center at Penn State Altoona. Since 2009 she has also been a peer review consultant for the American College Health Association (ACHA) and a health care accreditation surveyor with the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC). She noted that medical students are different from undergraduates. “Medical school students have a lot on their plates. There’s a lot of pressure. They’re competing with themselves and competing with others. There is also stress caused by the need to adjust to the cultural differences here.” In this situation, she advised, “You have to have the mentality of, ‘go with the flow,’ and have the mindset that you’re going to enjoy your environment.”

Himmel began her professional career as a psychiatric nurse in the U.S. She then went on to earn an MA in Community Counseling from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and a PsyD in Counseling Psychology from California Southern University.

“I’m here as a guide, a coach, to help students make the best choices, and to help them see all sides,” Himmel said. After evaluating what the needs of the RUSM students are, and what services are available, Himmel said she looks forward to partnering with the student affairs department and the health center on campus on initiatives to better “maintain students’ health, wellness and safety.”

She is the author and co-author of many publications and presentations, including “Suicide Prevention Strategies using a Chronic Care Model,” delivered in 2010 at Penn State University’s Professional Development Conference.

Adjusting to life in Dominica, Himmel takes her own advice about ‘going with the flow.’ “On Saturday mornings we go down to Portsmouth,” she related, “and if there’s a fisherman with a big tuna, we get a big slice and take it home in a bag. You learn to eat what you can find.”

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