Ross University Blog

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

July 28, 2015

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

It is expected that hundreds of Dominican residents will receive medical care and surgical treatment daily. Medical services to be provided include optometry, dentistry, general medical, women's health, pediatrics, and dermatology among others. The medical personnel on board will be carrying out procedures on the ship, as well as at the Dominica Grammar School in Roseau and the Roosevelt Douglas Primary School in Portsmouth.

“Our students are doing tremendous work with the unique population of this developing country,” said RUSM’s Dean and Chancellor Joseph A. Flaherty, MD. “The students are getting 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, cultural awareness, and a sense of service.”

The project is being coordinated by RUSM’s Dr. Rhonda McIntyre, MBBS, FAAP, FRCP(C), professor of pediatrics and director of the international health program. She said that, “Students from any semester were able to sign up for multiple shifts and we were able to find a role for students at every level. There will also be a variety of specialty clinics running concurrently. Students will have the opportunity to help in triage, shadow medical personnel, function as scribes at the clinical stations, do simple diagnostic testing and take vital signs, among other activities. We plan on having a student-run health education activity as well.”

The ship is on a six-month humanitarian deployment to Central America, the Caribbean and South America, according to the US Department of Defense. On this mission, dubbed “Continuing Promise 2015” more than 130,000 patients are expected to be treated.


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VIDEO: Students Talk About RUSM Organizations and Clubs

July 23, 2015

At Ross University School of Medicine students can choose from a wide variety of academic, physical, and community-oriented organizations and clubs on campus. View this video to get a sample of campus life.


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DEAN’S BLOG: Medical Schools Like RUSM Are Part of the Solution to This US Problem

July 20, 2015

Ross University Dean Joseph A. Flaherty

This post was written by Joseph A. Flaherty, MD, dean and chancellor of Ross University School of Medicine.

An article in The Hill, a leading U.S. publication covering politics, suggests that international medical schools are a critical part of alleviating the looming doctor shortage. Entitled “Discrimination Against Foreign Medical Schools is Bad for Your Health,” it references the prediction that by 2025, the country will be short as many as 90,000 doctors, and points out that the solution to this problem will not come from schools located on American soil alone:

❝[T]here are not enough medical schools in the United States to train an adequate number of physicians needed to provide medical care.  Many talented and hard working Americans who have the calling to go into medicine simply cannot get accepted into medical schools in their own country. To become doctors, those individuals have to go abroad. While there are some medical schools outside the United States that are sub-standard, there are many schools that do a very good job of educating hopeful American doctors.❞

It goes on to say that medical schools “in places like Dominica” do “a great job of preparing their students to practice in the United States.” It also notes the success some schools outside the U.S. have in “educating minorities to become doctors,” an area where “American medical schools are failing miserably.” 

It is past time for leading international medical schools like RUSM to get their due for the contributions we make to the U.S. healthcare system. At RUSM we enroll talented and committed individuals from diverse backgrounds and provide them with a rigorous education. And we get results: a 97% first-time pass rate on Step 1 of the United States Medical Licensing Exam in 2014, and more than 800 graduates earning residencies this year. A large number of this year’s graduates will enter primary care, practice in high-need areas, or both. We are proud to play our part in helping the U.S. meet its need for physicians.

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Tags: USMLE , Residency , Leadership

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VIEWPOINT: 10 Ways to Provide an Engaging Medical School Learning Environment

July 13, 2015

This blog entry was written by Vijay Rajput, MD, FACP, SFHM, Professor and Chair of Medicine at Ross University School of Medicine. Dr. Rajput is also the Medical Director for the Office of Student and Professional Development at RUSM.

What do learners want from their teachers? I think that the answer to that question is the same for all students, from pre-school to medical school. My experience as a professor is with medical students, so I will discuss this topic from their perspectives.

RUSM students learning

After all these years as a faculty member and chair, I can say that it is the students who have trained me in what they really need. If we want our students to succeed, we have to turn our attention to what they want, and we need to ensure that we provide a learning environment that includes the following 10 basic requirements.


Engage me.

Excite me.

Explain your role and style.

Don’t make me invisible.

Give me autonomy.

Praise me appropriately.

Don’t scare me.

Help me when I’m struggling.

Provide timely feedback.

Celebrate new learning.


Diving In: Creating an Effective Medical School Environment

Engage me: Medical students work with residents and attendings in a clinical setting to manage patient care. Faculty must make them feel that they are part of the team, and not just bystanders. One way to accomplish this is to make meaningful use of their time. They have time to talk to patients, and then come back to give me, the physician, the information that will help me make a brilliant diagnosis.

RUSM students discussing

Excite me. We have to create the environment for a student to get excited, by being given a role, and simple rules to follow.  For example, there was a case in which a patient, who did not speak English, was admitted with a fever of unknown origin. The resident did many tests. The medical student, who had time to talk to the patient, did a good history, and then also took off the patient’s socks as part of the physical examination. That’s when he discovered that the patient had a dry, gangrenous toe, which was the source of the fever! Since then, I always take off a patient’s socks.

Explain your role:  The many residents and faculty with whom a student may work on clinical rotations all have their own work styles, ways of getting work done and ideas about what they expect from students. It is difficult for students to know who we are, what responsibilities we have, and what our roles are in their medical education. We should take a few moments to clarify all this to students on the first day of a new rotation.  

Don’t make me invisible: Faculty members should know a little something about each student, outside of the medical sphere. Does the student have a skill, interest or hobby? I always ask new students to tell me where they were born and raised, where they went to high school and college, what they majored in, and what they did before coming to RUSM. I’ve had so many students and I may not remember their names, but I remember their life stories. This exchange creates a little bond, and makes it easier for the student to come to me with any questions or problems. I try to create a nurturing, friendly environment. Students know that they will have to work hard, but they will learn a lot. I also maintain an open-door policy, and I want students to feel comfortable knocking on my door without having to make an appointment. They are not invisible to me. I see them as individuals with unique needs.

RUSM students show autonomy

Give me autonomy: Don’t tell students how to learn. You can guide them, but don’t force them by telling them how to do everything. Allow them to do some experimenting in their learning.

Praise me appropriately: You don’t have to give out gold medals, but when a student does something right, one word of praise can go a long way. A simple, “That was nice” or “That was good” is very meaningful.

Don’t scare me: I’m a firm believer in having an environment that is conducive to learning. It’s ok to create a little performance anxiety and to put students a little on the spot. But the technique of scaring them doesn’t work. Neither does intimidating them with your knowledge or power. Fear and anxiety do not create a good atmosphere for learning.

Help me when I’m struggling: It’s reasonable that students who are struggling will need more guidance, and more discipline. Help them set up short term goals, like for the next exam, as well as long term goals, about their careers. Sometimes they may have trouble seeing the forest for the trees, so you can help them zoom in and zoom out, so they see both trees and forest.

Provide timely feedback: I used to give my students formative feedback at the end of every week. I called it Feedback Friday. Faculty members need to find out what students have learned and what they still need to learn, so there isn’t a gap between what they’ve been taught and what they know. It’s not enough to say, in general, “You need to improve your communication with the patient.” We should give students specific guidance, like, “Pay attention to body language.”

Celebrate new learning: Many times in long demanding work hours in professional school and clinical environments we forget to have fun while learning. In medicine we are often surrounded by sickness, suffering and pain. The notion of fun may seem inappropriate. What I am referring to, however, is the enjoyment that comes from learning something new, and from doing something well. Students should be able to celebrate these accomplishments. Of course we must respect our patients’ privacy, and maintain the proper professional demeanor around patients. What I have often done is take my students to the cafeteria for ice cream to celebrate their successes, to give them a high-five and tell them they did a good job.

Final Thoughts: The Med School Student's Perspective and Why It Matters

As an educator, thinking about learning from the student’s perspective has helped me a lot. Over the years I have observed my mentors, many of whom were role models in this respect.

Most of all, I am indebted to my students, from whom I continue to learn how to become a better teacher.

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Tags: Faculty

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VIDEO: Check Out These 2015 Match Reactions (and Tips) from RUSM Grads

July 08, 2015

I matched. These two words carry a lot of weight for medical school students in general, but they’re especially meaningful to graduates of Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM). Because it means that, after four years of training in Dominica and at our US clinical hubs, our students have finally made it to residency. They achieved their dreams.

Earlier this month, more than 800 of our graduates who earned residency spots in 2015 started their training at hospitals and healthcare centers throughout the United States, Canada, and beyond.  We interviewed several of these new residents in the weeks prior to residency start, and their excitement was palpable. (Scroll down to the bottom of this post for the links to some of these profiles.)

But don’t take our word for it—check out the video below for some reaction shots of newly matched RUSM grads. Not only will you get a sense of how excited they are at their achievements, but they’ll also share some thoughts on the Match experience, their time at RUSM, and more.

Get an inside look at what it’s like to match. Check it out!



Check out other RUSM Match stories below!

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

2014 Ross Grad "Elated" About His Residency Match Experience

RUSM Graduates Poised to Begin Residency Programs

Students, Grads All Smiles at RUSM Residency Reception in NY

Other Inspiring Videos on the RUSM YouTube Channel

Tags: Residency

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DEAN'S BLOG: Budgeting Advice for RUSM Students in Dominica

July 06, 2015

Executive Dean and Chancellor Joseph Flaherty, MD, chats with Senior Director of Finance Dean Shillingford.

I met recently with Ross University School of Medicine’s (RUSM) Senior Director of Finance Dean Shillingford, to talk about the importance of budgeting, and some ideas that might be helpful for our medical students. Mr. Shillingford, a native of Dominica, began his career with RUSM on the island in 2006, as a student accounts coordinator. He was promoted steadily and in 2011, he became the director of finance and administration on the Dominica campus and in January of this year he was appointed to his current position in Miramar. Here’s some of that conversation:

Flaherty: Generally speaking, it makes good sense for everyone to prepare a budget and keep track of expenses. People need to think about what is a necessity and what is not, and that is different for everyone.

Shillingford: It’s important to create a budget and to write it down. As far as expenses, the big three are food, housing and transportation. When students first arrive in Dominica for the Foundations of Medicine portion of the medical education program, they may not be sure how much to budget. But by the second semester, they will know how much they need.


Students’ standard of living has gone up; what they used to call the middle class standard of living has gone up. Medical students today wear decent clothes, eat out occasionally, take vacations. They probably had that in college. Our students have to look at their lifestyle a little differently. Going to Dominica is different. This is a study experience. You have this opportunity to learn the basic sciences and pass the USMLE® Step 1 exam with a good score. You’re not going to be spending money going places. There’s no need for a lot of new clothes; there are few functions for which to get dressed up.

Shillingford: There is a temptation for students. They studied hard all semester and they want to party. During the breaks some want to go island-hopping by plane, stay in nice hotels, go to the casinos.

Flaherty: I’m a big advocate of students setting study goals with rewards. Each day, if you study for five or six hours, you should have a short-term reward. Go out and play basketball, or whatever you like to do. If you study all week, go out on Saturday or Sunday. And if you study all semester, set aside money in your budget for a reward. I remember when I was a medical student I set aside $20 every semester, to reward myself with a trip to my favorite bookstore. I liked to read history and fiction. Still do.





Flaherty: The thing that students have to plan is how many trips back to the U.S. they will have to make. They may want to go home twice in 16 months. Some people get homesick.

Shillingford: As far as transportation on the island, the university provides it. Everything is within walking distance. And for excursions to Roseau and sightseeing day trips, these are also organized by RUSM and transportation is provided. You don’t really need a car.

Flaherty: There will be no events where you’re expected to drive. I think if a student wants to drive somewhere remote on the island, he or she can find three others who also want to go, and they can rent a car together for that occasion.

Shillingford: You don’t really need to buy a car just for 16 months. Gas on the island is also much more expensive than in the US. You have to discipline yourself to cut expenses. It’s always wise to reduce your expenses.



Shillingford: Most first semester students stay at Ross University Housing. Then they should look through our housing database for an apartment that is clean, and in a good location, and less expensive than something bigger and fancier. After all, how much time will they spend in the apartment? They’ll be spending most of their time on campus, in classes and labs, and studying.

Flaherty: Students probably spend about 80% of their awake time on campus. They should check out all of the many options available for study space and see what works for them. Very few students prefer to study at home all the time, because of the distractions there. So, how much living space do you really need? Some people are more social, and a compromise for them might be a place with maybe four bedrooms and a communal kitchen. When I was in medical school I lived in a decrepit building with about 20 other students. My room was about 10’ by 12’ with a bed and a desk and chair. It wasn’t bad. We had great camaraderie. It didn’t seem like a hardship.



Shillingford: Eating out is always more expensive than eating at home, no matter where you may be. You can save a lot of money by limiting the number of meals that you eat in restaurants.

Flaherty: It’s also probably easier to eat healthy if you cook a little. Our students can go to the market once a week to shop for fresh food. They can freeze leftovers in containers and have enough to eat for a few meals. This is what many of them do. It’s also a good way to make friends, shopping, cooking and eating together. During Orientation on campus we offer a presentation on the unique foods of Dominica and how to prepare them.

There’s a lot of information we give students, from the time that they are accepted to RUSM, about what to expect on the island and how to arrange for what they need, including housing and transportation. We are here to help. What students need to do for themselves is to think about their expenses and how they will budget for the basic necessities, as well as for the rewards they will give themselves along the way. And, as Dean Shillingford advised, “write it down.”


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