Ross University Blog

INSIDE LOOK: RUSM Grad Writes About the Residency Recruitment Process

February 27, 2015

A pretty interesting article recently hit the pages of The News-Press, a Fort Myers, Florida-based daily newspaper. The piece, written by Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) graduate and first-year resident Elizabeth Midney-Martinez, shines a spotlight on two sides of the residency process—what it’s like to be a recent grad trying to earn a residency and, on the flip side, what it’s like to be on the recruiting end.

“This year, as interns, we were very involved with the recruitment process, everything from reviewing applications to taking candidates out to dinner, giving tours of the different hospitals, and keeping in contact with them throughout the entire Match process,” she writes. “It has been a year since I was in their shoes, but it feels like just yesterday.”

Midney-Martinez is about six months into her first year of residency at the Florida State University College of Medicine Family Medicine Residency Program at Lee Memorial Health System. She also shares some interesting statistics about the residency process—more than 1,500 people applied for the six available residency slots in her program, for example—plus some details about her own medical school student experience.

Read the full article here.

Want to learn more about our graduates' stories? Check out a story about the Chillemis, two brothers who both graduated from RUSM and moved on to fulfilling careers in medicine. Read the profile here.

Tags: Residency , Alumni , Florida

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GRADUATE PROFILE: A Bold Path Pays Off for RUSM Grad Ariel Gavino

February 26, 2015

Like most Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) graduates, Ariel Gavino, MBA, MD, always had big dreams of becoming a physician. What’s different about his story is the path he took to make those dreams come true.

“I didn’t do as well as I would have liked in college, so I took a different route,” says Gavino, who graduated from RUSM in 2008.

"Directors from internal medicine programs, surgical programs, Emergency Department programs—they were all asking me to go ahead and apply [for residency], because they thought I’d do well."

Ariel Gavino, '08 RUSM graduate, on getting multiple residency offers during clinical rotations in the US
It was a route that ultimately paid off. After earning his Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree at RUSM, he's now both an attending physician (addiction medicine) at Kaiser Permanente, California, and a psychiatrist with the California State Department of Corrections.

“Being a physician is one of the most prestigious, honorable careers one can have,” Gavino says. “Without Ross, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Grabbing His Opportunity at Ross

Gavino is a career-changer—a term describing a student who decides to pursue medical school a bit later in life, after having already held a job in either a medical field or something entirely different. Some career-changers simply hear the calling to practice medicine later in life; others intentionally spend time gaining practical experience through non-physician healthcare careers.

In Gavino's case, it was the latter: He spent years gaining experience as both a certified respiratory therapist and a physician assistant before starting his search for medical schools.

Even so, the search proved discouraging at first. “I thought getting into med school in the US was unachievable, because I knew how competitive it was, and still is, in the states,” he says.

A good friend of his had recently been accepted to RUSM, so at that friend’s encouragement, Gavino attended an information seminar in Los Angeles to see what the school was all about. After speaking with a RUSM advisor and explaining his personal situation, he applied, was accepted after his interview, and—as he says it—the rest is history.

Taking the First Steps Toward His MD

Gavino started his medical training in January of 2004 on RUSM's highly advanced campus on the island of Dominica in the Caribbean.

“What’s good about [Dominica] is that you don’t have the distractions you’d expect at US medical schools, where you’re in a city or densely populated area,” he says. “I was able to focus exclusively on my studies, and that was a huge advantage to me.”

That focus came in handy while undergoing RUSM’s rigorous preclinical curriculum, during which students spend the early part of their training mastering the fundamentals of medicine. “Their curriculum is really geared toward empowering you to perform well—not just in your preclinical studies, but also clinical rotations, the USMLE, and even residency,” he says. 

Check out a video detailing our curriculum, plus some of our advanced technology, here.

Multiple Residency Offers During His Clinical Rotations in the US

“We were always there on time: always helpful, we always volunteered first, and we were always prepared for any of the presentations that we needed to give as clinical students. That’s really how Ross trains you to be [during the basic sciences].”

—Ariel Gavino, MD, speaking about how RUSM's Foundations of Medicine curriculum set him up for success during clinicals

After heading back to the US for clinical rotations, Gavino felt that he was actually ahead of the curve in some ways when compared to the US students he was rotating with. “That’s another good thing about attending Ross,” he says. “We were prepared for the hard stuff. That really strengthened us when we did our rotations.”

It didn’t hurt that he had a good amount of medically related experience from his two previous jobs, either. “I performed my own EKGs, blood draws, arterial blood gas tests, and IV placements,” he says. “I was already trained in that, so I taught it to some of the US medical school students.”

He ended up getting a lot of meaningful face-to-face time with attending physicians and residents during the clinical experience, perhaps due to a philosophy that he refers to as “first in and last out.” This means, simply, that he was the first person at the hospital for rotations and the last person to leave.

“We were always there on time: always helpful, we always volunteered first, and we were always prepared for any of the presentations that we needed to give as clinical students,” he says. “That’s really how Ross trains you to be.”

Given that he received multiple residency offers during his time in clinicals, it would appear that his dedication paid off.

“I wasn’t only being encouraged to apply for psychiatry residencies,” he says. “Directors from internal medicine programs, surgical programs, Emergency Department programs—they were all asking me to go ahead and apply, because they thought I’d do well.”

Ultimately, he selected a psychiatry residency at Maricopa Medical Center in Arizona. He says psychiatry, which he describes as an “art”, gives him the ability to achieve a good balance between spending time with his family and caring for patients.

Gavino is a regular fixture at RUSM information seminars on the West Coast, usually California and Arizona—and he has nothing but love for his alma mater. “That’s why I always volunteer,” he says. “I’m very happy; Ross gave me the opportunity to fulfill my dreams of becoming a doctor. I’ll never forget that.”

Want to meet Dr. Gavino? He'll be speaking and answering questions at our March 7 Information Seminar in Irvine, California. Sign up here


Tags: Alumni , Residency , California

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ALUMNI UPDATE: Canadian Grad Heads Back Home to Practice

February 25, 2015

Jeff Irvine, MD, knew exactly what he wanted from his medical school experience. For one, he wanted it to be an adventure, one that gave him the opportunity to study medicine in a global setting. And two—on almost the opposite end of the spectrum—he wanted to ultimately go back to his home province of Saskatchewan for residency and practice after earning his medical degree.

To those ends, Dr. Irvine chose Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM). And, as it turns out, he got both of his wishes.

The University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine, in part 2 of a monthly series profiling recent medical school graduates, reports on Dr. Irvine's experience. Now, Dr. Irvine, who just wrapped up a family medicine residency at the University, is excited to start exploring the practice possibilities that await him in his home province.

Read his story here.

Tags: Canada , Residency , Alumni

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STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Stephen Sebastian Hopes to Bring Reliable Medical Care to Rural Region in Canada

February 23, 2015

Knowing firsthand what it’s like to grow up in an underserved community, Stephen Sebastian aspires to open a rural medical practice. He began the first step toward realizing his goal when he enrolled at Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) in January 2015, receiving the Canadian Founder and Dean’s Academic Merit Scholarships.


“We often felt that doctors came and went swiftly,” said Stephen speaking of the transient physicians that never settled in his Canadian hometown.

Due to the lack of physicians in his community, Stephen developed a compassion for those with limited access to resources. He has participated in several community service initiatives including volunteering at Cambodian Foreign Aid as a Children’s Camp Coordinator and his local food bank in Innisfail, Alberta. Also, Stephen has spent time at Kelowna General Hospital as a hemodialysis unit volunteer and he has worked as a pharmacy technician.

Stephen is a graduate of the University of British Columbia–Okanagan where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in biology, biochemistry and chemistry.

Tags: Canada , Admissions

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CLINICAL SPOTLIGHT: Making Our Strong Clinical Program Even Stronger

February 20, 2015

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.

New Single-Location Clinical Rotation Opportunities for Medical School Students

Since our founding about 40 years ago, RUSM clinical administrators have worked hard to identify and partner with United States teaching hospitals that meet our standards for excellence. That hasn’t changed: We’re proud to continue offering our students clinical placements at quality clinical sites across the United States, plus options for rotations in Canada and the United Kingdom.

What has changed? Notably, in recent months, we’ve been giving students the opportunity to complete all third-year clinical rotations—the “core” disciplines of medicine, like internal medicine, surgery, and pediatrics—at a single location, rather than at multiple hospitals. That’s because we believe that our students shouldn’t have to worry about the outside distractions that come with moving from site to site, having to find a place to live, and learning the ins and outs at a new hospital.

Single-location clinical opportunities are available in:

New York

  • St. John's Episcopal Hospital, Far Rockaway
  • Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, Queens
  • New York Methodist Hospital, Brooklyn


  • West Suburban Medical Center, Oak Park
  • Mount Sinai Hospital, Chicago
  • St. Anthony Hospital, Chicago


  • Kern Medical Center, Bakersfield
  • California Hospital Medical Center, Los Angeles



  • Center for Haitian Studies, Miami
  • Cleveland Clinic Florida, Weston


  • Prince George Hospital Center, Cheverly
  • Beltway Track, which includes four hospitals—Saint Agnes Hospital, Baltimore; Prince George Hospital Center; Holy Cross Hospital, Silver Spring; and St. Elizabeth's Hospital, Washington, DC)


  • Atlanta Medical Center, Atlanta

New and Expanded Affiliations Add Value to Clinical Program

Over the last few years, we’ve started or expanded clinical education affiliations with a number of highly regarded teaching hospitals.

  • RUSM entered into a 10-year affiliation agreement with Kern Medical Center (KMC) in Bakersfield, Calif., to offer about 100 core clinical rotation slots annually for RUSM students. This partnership, initiated in 2012, is the largest clinical affiliation in RUSM’s history. KMC, established in 1867, is a 222-bed acute care teaching hospital that serves about 650,000 area residents. KMC provides care for more than 16,000 inpatients annually, and experiences 43,000 Emergency Room visits per year. Per the agreement, RUSM clinical students can complete all third-year rotations at KMC.
  • Atlanta Medical Center (AMC) joined the RUSM clinical network in 2013. A 762-bed acute care hospital and a leading provider of advanced medical care to the metro Atlanta area, AMC is the second largest licensed-bed hospital in Georgia and a Level 1 trauma center. RUSM clinical students can complete all of their third-year rotations at AMC. The hospital is widely recognized for its women’s services program and for outstanding performance in the treatment of stroke patients. The hospital has campuses in downtown Atlanta and East Point, GA.
  • We expanded our affiliation with Cleveland Clinic Florida, one of the campuses of the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic, in 2013. This strengthened agreement gives RUSM students the option of completing internal medicine and surgery training at this Weston-based teaching hospital.  With the addition of the internal medicine and surgery clerkships, RUSM students can choose from nearly 30 clinical clerkships at Cleveland Clinic Florida, including anesthesiology, infectious disease, neurology, plastic surgery, and pulmonary medicine.

Supporting Our Students During Clinicals

As you may have guessed, you’ll be very busy as a RUSM clinical student, and it can be challenging to progress through clinical rotations while staying connected, staying on track to earn your medical degree, and preparing to enter residency. To help support our students during the clinical program, we’ve implemented the Rely On Student Service (ROSS) model. This student support feature links every RUSM clinical student with his/her own team of dedicated advisors, from financial counselors to writers from our Office for Student Professional Development. Clinical students can also leverage innovative digital technologies to further enrich their clinical experience. 

 There's much more to discover. Keep exploring below.

 Admissions | Foundations of Medicine (Basic Sciences) | Clinical Rotations | Residencies


Tags: Clinical Program

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STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: US Army Veteran Receives Scholarship

February 18, 2015

Sgt. Jeffrey Henneman received the Veterans Recognition Scholarship award for his work as a combat medic in the United States Army. During his eight years of service, Sgt. Henneman oversaw a team of 14 to maintain a satellite health clinic. Sgt. Henneman has provided a range of medical care including conducting physical exams, minor surgical procedures and administering immunizations and intravenous lines.

According to Sgt. Henneman, he was deployed multiple times, yet, it was his last tour that was the most impactful. He and a small team were charged with designing and instructing a two-week basic combat trauma treatment class for a group of 15-20 Afghan Army medics.

“Through both successes and failures we all learned ways of overcoming cultural barriers in order for everyone involved to fully communicate and understand one another,” recalls Sgt. Henneman. “The Afghan Soldiers taught me a lot about acceptance, patience and cultural differences.” A total of 142 Afghan medics were trained and certified under Sgt. Henneman’s leadership.

Sgt. Henneman received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at the University of Mary Hardin - Baylor. He is happily married to his wife, Morgan.


Tags: Texas , Admissions

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RESIDENCIES: These Couples Got the Ultimate Match

February 10, 2015

Sommerhalder and Veatch, RUSM alumni
RUSM graduates Ashley Veatch, MD, and David Sommerhalder, MD, met while they were both students at RUSM.

As Valentine’s Day approaches and as medical students who will soon graduate are in the throes of the residency match process, our thoughts turn to the Couples Match. A number of Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) students every year apply to the National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP) as a couple. They are in the Couples’ Match because they want to obtain residencies in the same geographic area, so that they can remain together.

In 2014, RUSM graduates earned more than 800 residency positions at hospitals in the United States and Canada. Two of them, Texas natives David Sommerhalder and his fiancée at the time, Ashley Veatch, matched together at Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, he in internal medicine and she in family medicine.

Williams and Koukis, RUSM alumni
Cheau Williams, MD, MSN, and his wife Betty Koukis, MD, at RUSM's White Coat Ceremony in May 2014.

Another RUSM alumni couple, Cheau Williams, MD, MSN, and his wife Betty Koukis, MD, are graduates of the class of 2006. Dr. Williams served as the guest speaker at the White Coat Ceremony last May. He is the director of urogynecology and female pelvic reconstructive surgery at Colquitt Regional Medical Center in Moultrie, GA, and she is an obstetrician/gynecologist there. The couple met while they were medical school students on the Dominica campus.

Tags: Alumni , Residency

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STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Scholarship Recipient Noted for Academic Performance and Extensive Community Work

February 10, 2015

Stacey Sassaman received the Community Health Leadership and Dean’s Academic Merit Awards.

At 14, Stacey decided to pursue medicine when her grandfather was diagnosed with a rare, malignant brain tumor. “I wanted to understand the disease process,” said Stacey. “I wanted to help him and future patients.”

Keeping on course with her goal of becoming a physician, Stacey has joined Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) with a Master of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Health Science from Drexel University College of Medicine (DUCM) and a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Drexel University (Drexel), her cumulative GPAs were 3.68 and 3.44 respectively.

As noted by one of her professors, Stacey was recognized as “one of the most studious, intellectually versatile and community-conscious students.” An example of her thirst for learning was Stacey auditing additional classes because she reached her maximum course load permitted by the university.

Stacey was a tutor at Drexel’s Center for Academic Success. She coached nursing and graduate professional students in science courses as well as taught study and time management skills. Also, Stacey was a peer mentor at the Drexel Autism Support Program, supporting fellow Drexel students as they integrated into the larger community on campus. She was noted for demonstrating “creativity, sensitivity, and good humor in working with her mentee.”

Other volunteer work included the Linda Creed Foundation, an organization that provides education and free breast cancer screenings to uninsured and underinsured women in the Philadelphia community; the Pediatric Aids Benefit Concert, DUCM’s largest student-run philanthropic event; and Thomas Jefferson University where Stacey was a bone marrow transplant unit volunteer.

The combination of Stacey’s psychology background; childhood experiences in a rural, underserved region and volunteer work in urban areas positions her to effectively interact with patients from all walks of life.


Tags: Admissions , Pennsylvania

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COMMENTARY: In Chicago Tribune, RUSM Dean Writes About Importance of Vaccinations

February 06, 2015

Joseph A. Flaherty, MD, Dean and Chancellor at Ross University School of Medicine, has authored a guest commentary for the Chicago Tribune on the risks to public health posed by parents who choose not to have their children vaccinated for diseases like measles. “While many individuals explore medically sound and useful sites on the Internet, others get bounced to sources of misinformation. It is in this murky "nether net" that disease deniers lurk and anti-vaccination campaigns arise,” he writes.

Dr. Flaherty poses an important question that has sparked debate around the country: “Can a line be drawn between when individuals can make personal medical decisions and when the state needs to intervene?”

Read the full story.

Want to learn more about Dean Flaherty? Check out a profile of the dean here and find out what brought him to RUSM—and how the school has advanced under his leadership.

Tags: Leadership

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ALUMNI PERSPECTIVE: Canadian Alumni Share Firsthand Medical School Experiences at RUSM Info Event

February 05, 2015

Brianna Wells, MD, graduated from RUSM in December 2013 and is currently in the University of British Columbia Family Practice Residency Program.

Brianna Wells, MD, graduated from RUSM in December 2013 and is currently in the University of British Columbia Family Practice Residency Program.

What should an aspiring physician consider when selecting a medical school? What type of curriculum will prepare medical students for licensure exams in North America? How can a medical graduate obtain a good residency? Aspiring physicians in Canada have the opportunity to get answers to their burning questions and hear directly from medical graduates who weren’t long ago contemplating pursing a medical degree. Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) is hosting a complimentary information seminar Saturday, Feb. 7 in Vancouver, British Columbia at 2 p.m.

Brianna Wells, MD, graduated from RUSM in December 2013 and is currently in her first year of the University of British Columbia Family Practice Residency Program. Dr. Wells will be at the info seminar to offer advice.

“When deciding on what medical school to attend, prospective students should have a grasp on their interests in medicine and determine if the medical school they are considering have alumni who have successfully accomplished what they hope to do,” says Dr. Wells.

There were multiple reasons Dr. Wells chose RUSM over other medical schools, “RUSM is well-known, has a curriculum similar to Canadian schools, and has the ability to organize Canadian elective clerkship experiences.” She also cites RUSM’s unique academic schedule was a factor. “I liked that there were no breaks in the academic schedule.”

Tiffany Bursey, MD, graduated from RUSM in 2011 and is a family medicine physician at North Burlington Medical Centre Walk-in Clinic and at the Halton McMaster Family Health Centre. She is also a part-time hospitalist at Joseph Brant Hospital. All medical facilities located in Burlington, Ontario. 

RUSM Alumna Tiffany Bursey, MD.
Tiffany Bursey, MD, graduated from RUSM in 2011 and works in Burlington, Ontario as a family medicine physician at North Burlington Medical Centre Walk-in Clinic and at the Halton McMaster Family Health Centre. She is also a part-time hospitalist at Joseph Brant Hospital and teaches residents and medical students at the Halton McMaster Family Medicine Residency Program.


“I love what I do. I can’t imagine doing anything differently,” says Dr. Bursey. “In addition to general family medicine, I provide comprehensive care including low-risk obstetrics, palliative care and hospital medicine.”


Dr. Bursey also teaches residents and medical students at the Halton McMaster Family Medicine Residency Program in Burlington, Ontario. She too conducted her family medicine residency at McMaster University at the Hamilton, Ontario location.

She recalls her path to successfully obtaining a Canadian residency, “I worked extremely hard to do well on all of my US and Canadian exams. I conducted elective clerkships across Canada and received great reference letters from Canadian physicians.”

In addition to working hard academically, both physicians acknowledge students need to maintain a balance between studying and recreation.

Dr. Wells has this advice for medical students on how to manage stress: “When you are studying, concentrate and do it well. When you are relaxing, let it all go and have fun!” One of Dr. Wells’ cherished memories at RUSM was the time she spent playing in the baseball league.

There are several opportunities to relieve stress in Dominica, West Indies, where students complete their foundational studies before completing their clinical training in the one of RUSM’s affiliated teaching hospitals throughout the United States and select opportunities in Canada.

Dr. Bursey enjoyed snorkeling, scuba diving and beach volleyball when in Dominica.

“My fondest memory of my experience at RUSM is living in the Caribbean and meeting some of my now closest friends," says Dr. Bursey. "The memories are priceless.”

Tags: Alumni , Canada , Residency

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STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Volunteer Work and Cultural Experiences Earned Student a Scholarship

February 02, 2015

Valentino Baldeo desires to be a physician for one reason: to heal. “I’m not persuaded by money or prestige,” says Valentino.

His deep desire to heal was developed after experiencing several close relatives battle with physical and mental illnesses – including prostate cancer, breast cancer, suicide attempt and inoperable pulmonary emboli.

Influenced by his father, Valentino decided to pursue a medical degree at Ross University School of Medicine. His father, a pediatric neurologist, graduated from RUSM in 2003 and is a member of the university’s clinical faculty at South Nassau Hospital in New York.

“I’ve watched my father and have seen the care he displays with patients. He seemingly heals those he touches – it’s awe-inspiring,” says Valentino. “I don’t want to walk in his footsteps. I want to walk alongside him, able to do everything I can for those who need help.”

Valentino received the Community Health Leadership Award largely due to his volunteer work. He worked alongside a Child Life Specialist in the emergency room at Winthrop University Hospital. Assisting his father, he aided in examining patients at Skeldon Hospital and an orphanage - both in Guyana. Also, Valentino helped register Spanish-speaking patients at Martin Luther King, Jr. Health Center in Wyandanch, NY.

Valentino’s diverse network of friends and cultural background has shaped his perspective on medicine. “I’ve associated with rich and poor people. I’ve had exposure to Hindu, Muslim and Christian religions. And, I’ve befriended people of various ethnicities,” says Valentino. “It’s not about color, nor class. I see health, because that’s what matters.”


Tags: Admissions , New York

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