April 16, 2015
He already knew where he’d matched for his internal medicine residency: at his first-choice pick of Overlook Medical Center in Summit, NJ. So for Michael McEntee, MD, a 2014 Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) graduate, the congratulatory phone call he got from Overlook’s residency program coordinator later that day was just the icing on the cake.
“It was fantastic,” says Dr. McEntee, who was able to recall exactly when he got that phone call—shortly after 2 PM on Friday, March 20, 2015 (Match Day), just after he’d gotten back from work. “She [the coordinator] heard the elation in my voice—she said that they [Overlook] always know, after they hear how excited a new resident is, that they chose the right person for that residency program.”
Overlook Medical Center is just about 30 miles away from his hometown of North Brunswick, NJ.
“Ever since I enrolled, I knew that I was trying to match to a residency in New Jersey, to be close to home,” he says.
“Everything Happens for a Reason”
Interestingly, Dr. McEntee started out his medical career caring not for humans, but for their animal companions. He’d always been a science-minded student while pursuing his undergraduate at Rutgers University, but—speaking candidly—he “never really expected to go as far as getting my medical degree.”
“My MCAT scores were fine, but my GPA wasn’t the greatest,” he says. “And I remember getting a lot of flak from counselors at Rutgers when I was speaking with them about attending medical school. They though it was an unattainable goal…were pushing me in a different direction.”
As it turned out, Dr. McEntee found work—both during and after his time at Rutgers, from which he graduated in 2009—as a veterinary technician. “And the more I worked there, the more I enjoyed the clinical aspect of medicine,” he says. As it turned out, he ended up injuring his hand in 2011 (a severed tendon), which meant he needed to take some time off from work for rehabilitation.
“That’s what kind of spurred me to apply,” he says, thoughtfully. “Everything happens for a reason, right?”
Dr. McEntee, while still an undergrad at Rutgers, had noticed RUSM posters hanging up around campus, and—perhaps recalling what his counselors had told him—decided to submit his application.
“Ross was the only school that I applied to,” he says. “I was just happy to have the opportunity.”
The process moved quickly—he’d interviewed in September 2010, was accepted a month later in October, and soon landed on the island of Dominica in January 2011 to start RUSM’s Foundations of Medicine (basic sciences) curriculum.
The Transition to Life in Dominica
Getting used to island life, he says, was something of an interesting transition—one that ended up benefiting him in the long run. “It was total culture shock,” he says. “I’d never been out of the states by myself before. When I first landed, I considered going home.”
He’s glad he didn’t. “Without a doubt, it’s something that has shaped who I am in a huge way—not just in my career, but how I interact with people on a daily basis,” he says of his time on the island. “I’m a better person all around—I’m calmer, I’m nicer, I’m more accepting. I’m just better. It’s strengthened me, given me real resolve, and makes me feel like I can handle any situation that’s put in front of me.”
RUSM’s organ systems-based curriculum—an approach to teaching that organizes courses by systems within the body, enabling students to see how these systems work together—served as the “backbone” of his education on the technologically advanced RUSM campus in Dominica, he says.
“I think it prepared us as well as any other students, and I’ve rotated with groups of American medical school students, plus students who went to DO schools,” he says. “I never felt like I was outdone, never felt there was a piece of education I didn’t have. In fact, many times I felt like I was more prepared.”
US Clinical Rotations—Close to Home
After completing his Foundations of Medicine coursework, Dr. McEntee left Dominica and flew back to the United States for clinical rotations. He participated in what RUSM calls “tracked” clinical rotations, meaning he was able to complete all of his core rotations at hospitals in New York, within the same general geographic area. In Dr. McEntee’s case, he completed every core rotation—save pediatrics—at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway, NY. “They were absolutely great to me,” says Dr. McEntee of that hospital. He was able to stay in New York for most of his elective rotations, too.
Given that the clinical side of medicine had appealed to him during his time as a vet tech, undergoing rotations in the US was an exciting, brave new world for Dr. McEntee. “It’s about showing you have the knowledge base to work, in a productive manner, as a member of a healthcare team,” he says. “In clinicals, they’ll let you go as far as you can.”
Though RUSM students generally get hands-on patient experience during their first few weeks on the island, clinical rotations take things to the next level. “You’ll do suturing, grand rounds…there’s a lot more,” he says. “If you’re spending a lot of face-time with the residents there and are showing the drive to learn, they’ll let you help in simple surgical procedures, hold tools, help close surgical sites, place central lines, teach you how to intubate—you name it, I’ve probably done it.”
Dr. McEntee credits RUSM’s clinical team, particularly Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Gary Belotzerkovsky, for supporting him every step of the way during his clinical experience.
“They went above and beyond to try and make everyone get exactly what they wanted,” he says of the team. “In fact, Gary personally helped me schedule one of my elective rotations. There was never a time that I felt someone wasn’t there either actively trying to address an issue or working on that issue and keeping us updated.”
A Successful Residency Match for McEntee
When he was devising his rank list—applicants need to submit a list of their preferred residency programs to the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) after they register for the residency match—McEntee knew he’d be happy matching at any of the five programs he listed. Getting his top choice, he says, made him even happier.
“I’ve heard from my friends that [getting] your #1 or #2 [choice] is the norm,” he says.
Though he enjoyed all of the specialties he rotated through during his clinical years, there was something about internal medicine that he found fascinating. This factored in to his residency decision. “Internal medicine allows you to see a broad array of cases, but it’s also a lot more thought-process-involved,” he says. “You’ll get a lot of in-depth cases where you’re thinking about complicated pathologies, and it would allow me to seek a fellowship afterward.”
That fellowship, he says, would likely be in pulmonary and critical care, an area of medicine he became interested in when his mother was diagnosed with an “obscure form of pneumonia”, something physicians had been unable to fully diagnose at the time.
“I spent a lot of time in the ICU with her,” he says. “Just seeing how the ICU worked, the intricacies of her care—it really sparked an interest in me.”
For now, though, Dr. McEntee is happy to start the latest part of his path to practice.
“Ross provides you with an opportunity that a lot of other places may not give you,” he says. “And you can go as far as you’re willing to take yourself. As long as you’re willing to put in the work, there’s nothing you’ll need that Ross can’t provide.”
April 13, 2015
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.
According to the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), 2015 marked the largest residency match in history. More than 41,000 applicants registered for residency training programs across the country, with more than 27,000 first-year positions available.
April 13, 2015
|Drs. Jim Tysinger, seated left, Maureen Hall, and Jim Grogan. Standing: Drs. Stan White and Alison Dobbie.
“The theme was Supporting Student Success—and that’s exactly what the event was all about!” said Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) Dean and Chancellor Joseph A. Flaherty, MD. The event that Dean Flaherty's referring to was the Education Summit and Clinical Track Fair, held on RUSM’s Dominica campus on March 26 and 27.
“Our clinical chairs, deans and program directors, and basic science colleagues collaborated throughout, in the lectures, discussions, workshops and meetings," Dr. Flaherty said. After the meetings, the educators made themselves available to students at the Clinical Track Fair.
Presenters Speak About Constant Improvement, Preparing for Practice
Interim Senior Associate Campus Dean Dr. Stan White set the tone in his welcoming remarks when he asserted that RUSM’s effort is “not just about helping struggling students; it’s about equipping all our students to do better.” He thanked Maureen Hall, MD, Interim Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, and Jim Grogan, PhD, Associate Dean of Curriculum, for putting together an exciting and interactive program for the faculty and visiting clinical colleagues.
Plenary Speaker Jim Tysinger, PhD, a professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHSC) in San Antonio, delivered a presentation on the topic of advising students and teaching them how to apply study skills and learning strategies to improve their performance and outcomes. “It’s not just a question of passing the exam, but of preparing for practice,” Tysinger said.
Awards Given to RUSM Basic Sciences and Clinical Faculty
A summit highlight was the faculty recognition awards presentation. For academic leadership, the award was given to Dr. Louise Hawley, Professor and Chair of Microbiology, who was retiring after 12 years at RUSM. For clinical curriculum development, the award went to Dr. Hedda Dyer, for her work with the community clinics’ program, Princess Margaret Hospital, and the Infirmary for the elderly. Dr. Valarie Thomas, Center for Teaching and Learning, received the award for student support. For module leadership, the award went to Dr. Mary Moore.
|RUSM student Keely Johnson with Robert Dean, MD, RUSM clerkship director for OB/GYN.
The Clinical Track Fair attracted a large number of students. They had opportunities to hear from the clinical chairs, and others, including Vice Dean Peter Goetz and Gary Belotzerkovsky, Assistant Dean, Clinical Student Affairs. Students were able to get expert advice, and to have their individual questions answered.
“This was incredibly useful,” said Keely Johnson, a third-semester RUSM student who made the rounds of all the information tables, listened intently, took notes and asked questions. “I’m interested in international medicine. I kind of have an idea of what I want to do and where I want to go,” she said. “I would like to have an OB/GYN practice in California.”
Tags: Clinical Program
April 08, 2015
|January 2015 RUSM graduate Sisi Li (above) matched into her first choice for residency: University of Toronto's family medicine program.
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.
“When I was about 6 or 7 years old, I learned that my father and grandfather had both lost younger siblings very early in life from childhood accidents–one in a drowning, and the other in a choking episode,” she says.
Those lives, she says, didn’t have to end that way; if anyone in those situations had even the most basic knowledge of CPR or the Heimlich maneuver, things could have been different.
“I knew, from then on, that medicine—with its ability to affect such great change in the lives
of others, particularly in their greatest moments of need—was what I wanted to pursue with my life,” she says.
After Matching, Li Is Heading Back Home to Canada for Residency
In March 2015, after four years as a RUSM student, Li logged in to the Canada Resident Matching Service (CaRMS)—along with hundreds of Canadian medical school students hoping for their first choice in residency—to see how she’d fared in the Canadian match. In the years before this, she’d completed the Foundations of Medicine (basic sciences) program in Dominica and completed her clinical years in the United States and Canada.
Would her hard work pay off?
“Everything boiled down to that one moment, she says. “My hands were shaking. I’m fairly certain I was hyperventilating.”
She’d matched. University of Toronto, family medicine. Her first choice.
“After seeing that I had matched to my number one choice, I basically dissolved into a crying, hysterical and elated mess,” Li says. “Matching back home has been my goal since starting at RUSM—going to Dominica, and then bouncing across North America over the last four years, has really reinforced how important my family and friends are to me.”
In July 2015, Li will start her residency back in Ontario, close to her family, friends, and her fiancé, who just earned his MBA.
What She Learned at Ross—About Medicine, and About Herself
When starting medical school, Li knew going in that her primary focus would be primary care.
“The personal patient interactions, continuity of care—those were the things that I really valued as I thought about my future career plans,” she says. Through clinical rotations, Li was exposed to some “truly great” programs and specialties that, ultimately, she would have been very happy pursuing.
“But when I sat down to make a rank order list—when I really started thinking about what I wanted with my career in medicine—the ability to provide comprehensive care to such diverse patient populations was what made me ultimately select family medicine,” she says.
Picking her top choice of residency program, she says, was a much easier decision.
“Not only would I be close to home,” she says, “but I’d also be able to join the ranks of the largest family medicine training program in North America, training in some of the best academic and community hospitals in Canada.”
Li learned more at RUSM than just what specialty she wanted to practice in, she says. She learned perseverance and determination—qualities she says will serve her well in residency training. RUSM taught her to be resourceful, to be prepared to handle anything that comes at her in the field of medicine. And she learned that every other student on that island was in the same boat as her, that everyone was in this together.
“Since my first day on the island, I’ve been overwhelmed with the incredible sense of student camaraderie and support,” she says. “Students are happy to do whatever they possibly can to help each other out, which I think is a fantastic attitude to carry with you in your career.”
Through giving back to the school—by serving as a peer tutor and neuroscience teaching assistant while at RUSM—she even discovered she had a hidden passion for teaching.
“I’m very keen to be able to incorporate teaching into my future practice while working closely with medical students and residents,” she says.
On the immediate future? “I’m keeping a very open mind as I approach residency training,” she says. Options include possibly pursuing fellowship training in academic family medicine or obstetrics/women’s health.
But for now, four years after enrolling at RUSM, Sisi Li is going home for her next big step toward the practice of medicine.
We're close to finalizing our complete list of residencies for 2015. Please check our residency page regularly in the coming days!
News and perspectives from our campus, colleagues, and alumni
P R E V I O U S P O S T S
- MATCH: Alumni are a Match Made on Campus
- ADVICE: 10 Tips for Ross Clinical Students
- IN THE NEWS: CNN Highlights Image of Ross Alumna and Female Surgeon Peers
- MATCH: Q&A with Student Set to Begin an Internal Medicine Residency
- ALUMNI: Sheryl Recinos, MD, Charted a Bold Plan to Pursue Her Dream
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