Ross University Blog

CAREER ADVICE: Which Medical Specialty Makes Your Heart Twitch?

August 25, 2015

Choosing a Career in Medicine

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

Medicine is a career, not a job. The difference is that in a career you invest yourself, develop professionally, become more mature, and create a legacy. In a job, you can become the best burger-flipper, for example, with practice, but it’s still not a career.

Nevertheless, a physician, too, needs to get up every morning and go to work, and enjoy the work in which he or she is engaged. Medical students should be made aware of the wide range of options from which they may choose in pursuing their careers, and it is incumbent on medical educators to guide them through the process.

The basic question that needs to be answered by the student is what do you enjoy? Which medical specialty makes your heart start twitching? More specifically: 

  • Do you enjoy the cognitive aspects of analyzing a problem, or do you like to use psycho-motor skills and work with your hands? Do you enjoy both types of work?
  • What type of patient do you prefer to work with, children, adults, pregnant women?
  • What type of environment makes you more comfortable – a hospital operating room, emergency room, an outpatient office, a lab?
  • Do you enjoy taking care of an acute rather than a chronic problem? Do you prefer to manage a crisis rather than a chronic condition?
  • Do you prefer to get immediate satisfaction, or do you not mind getting delayed gratification?

Clearly, a person who likes to use psycho-motor skills in an acute situation, where immediate gratification is possible, is a person who would enjoy being a surgeon. A person who is comfortable in an office setting, and does not require immediate gratification, may be suited to family medicine or pediatrics. While it may seem obvious, many medical students do not necessarily ask themselves these questions to determine what specialty they wish to pursue. Additionally, an individual’s personality plays a role. If you are taciturn and reserved by nature, and can come across as grumpy, maybe pediatrics is not for you. On the other hand, if you are naturally cheerful, pleasant and very patient, you should consider a career as a pediatrician or a family medicine doctor.

Of course there is also the consideration of how difficult it may be to obtain a residency match in any area, and how the student’s academic record and United States Medical Licensing Examination® Step scores measure up. Students should aim high, but also have realistic expectations.

Now here are some don’ts when considering a career in medicine: 

  • Don’t choose a specialty based on a charismatic, exciting faculty member in that field. You need to talk to many people within that specialty to build up a comprehensive picture of what it’s really like.
  • Don’t try to navigate the market and choose a field because it seems to be in demand. Markets can swing every few years, and you might find yourself in a career you don’t enjoy, and earning less money than you anticipated.
  • Don’t neglect the opportunities within opportunities. For example, if you like the area of infectious diseases, check out the possibility of working in epidemiology at the Centers for Disease Control or the Department of Health.
  • Don’t rush your decision. Sometimes it just takes time to know what your passion really is and what you enjoy. There’s nothing wrong with that.

To achieve a rewarding career we need to do more than balance work and life. It’s not a balancing act it’s a juggling act, with the third component being integrity.

I advise medical students to follow these guidelines as they carefully consider what type of physician they wish to be and what kind of life they want to live.


Tags: Leadership , Admissions

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WEATHER UPDATE: Updated Information About Tropical Storm Danny

August 24, 2015

Please note the following update on Hurricane Danny, updated as of 4:45 pm on August 24, 2015.

Remnants of Tropical Storm Danny

Dear RUSM Community:

The remnants of Tropical Storm Danny have now degenerated into a trough of low pressure. At 11 a.m. remnants of Danny were located at 16.0 n 62.0 w or about 45 miles WSW of Guadeloupe. Maximum sustained winds have decreased near 30 mph (45 km/h) with higher gusts. The trough is expected to dissipate during the next couple of days. Present movement is to the west or 275 degrees at 12 mph. There are no coastal watches or warnings in effect.

We continue to urge you to make preparations now for any severe-weather event during this hurricane season and plan now for power outages. Information about Hurricane Preparedness may be found by visiting the RUSM Hurricane Preparedness page.

For travel information:

  • PRO TRAVEL customers should call 1-800-714-7618 or the after-hours service at 1-800-858-6319 for assistance and rebooking, as needed.
  • LIAT Passengers travelling on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday are asked to contact the LIAT Call Centre toll-free at 1-888-844-5428 and from Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands at 1-866-549-5428 for information on the status of their flights.
  • Seaborne’s flight status can be checked on or Seaborne’s Facebook page for up-to-the-minute information about flight plans. To change travel dates or if you have questions contact reservations personnel at 1-866-359-8784 or 787-946-7800 throughout the Caribbean.

RUSM continues to monitor the weather situation. Should storm conditions intensify or warrant further updates, RUSM will notify the campus community by email, SIREN message, Twitter updates and posts on the RUSM Facebook page. Please keep your SIREN information current.

Find general information about hurricane preparedness at RUSM here.


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SPOTLIGHT: Dr. Vijay Rajput

August 17, 2015

Vijay Rajput, MD,FACP,SFHM, RUSM Professor and Chairman of Medicine and Medical Director of RUSM's Office for Student Professional Development

Vijay Rajput, MD,FACP,SFHM, RUSM Professor and Chairman of Medicine and Medical Director of RUSM's Office for Student Professional Development

Dr. Vijay Rajput joined the faculty of Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) in March with a mission to spread the practice of humanistic medicine. He hopes to educate the next generation of physicians to view each patient’s illness in the context of his or her life.

Born and educated in Mumbai, India, Rajput says that he came to the U.S. with solid surgical skills, but learned to think more holistically during his internship and residency in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Since then, his mentors, students, and patients have taught him volumes about the value of empathic listening, clear communication, and respecting the bio-psycho-social aspects of disease. These principles, he says, inform his thinking both as a physician and as a teacher.

Before arriving to RUSM’s administrative office in Miramar, Rajput was a member of the senior faculty at Cooper University Hospital’s, Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (CMSRU) in Camden, N.J. where he headed the Division of Medical Education, directed the Internal Medicine Residency, and was Assistant Dean for curriculum development for the new school. He also chaired the ethics committee, and was active in clinical medicine as a senior academic hospitalist. In addition to holding these positions, Rajput was an associate fellow at the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania for four years and served on several committees for the American College for Physicians (ACP). He has authored or co-authored more than 80 papers, abstracts and book chapters on student development, medical education, and ethics and received 15 awards for excellence in teaching at the local and national levels.

What message do you hope your students will take away from your courses and why is it important?
Throughout healthcare, professionals are spending more time on the computer and less time at the bedside. This trend has been taking place over the last 20-30 years, and over the last 10 years it has gotten even worse. I don’t think the profession has figured out how to integrate the computer into bedside patient care. As a result, we don’t spend enough time getting to know patients or explaining our thinking to them in simple language.

If you make things simple for patients you make the information more meaningful to them. The same holds true for communicating with students. We sometimes get lost in scientific jargon and the complexity of healthcare, so I try to boil my philosophy down to three simple principles: 1. Listen to the patient, 2. Take care of the patient (as opposed to “treating” the patient), 3. Go the extra mile for the patient.

Research has shown that when healthcare professionals demonstrate compassion and empathy, patients are more likely to follow medical instructions and therefore heal more quickly. This results in better outcomes and cost-savings for the entire healthcare system.

Can you provide a few examples of what you mean by “going the extra mile?”
If you are a physician and you walk into a patient’s hospital room in the morning and the patient is waiting for a glass of water, you get him the glass of water. Or if an elderly woman can’t open her milk carton, you open it and pour the milk for her. These simple actions may not be part of your job description, but they can make a big difference to the patient. Practicing medicine isn’t about making a brilliant diagnosis anymore. It is about making patients comfortable and caring for them.

What are some ways in which you have taught these concepts?  
At CMSRU I developed a chronic care clerkship to fill a gap in U.S. students’ knowledge of how to take care of patients with chronic conditions such as HIV, heart failure, diabetes, and chronic musculoskeletal and neurological diseases. I also created a four-week course called LifeStages, which looks at the psychological, economic and socio-cultural dimensions of health throughout the life cycle, from infancy through geriatrics. Students learn about how things like memory, cognition, pain, substance abuse, accidents and injuries, sexuality, domestic violence, sleep, safety and end-of-life care relate to each age group, and focus on the relationships between the life stages.

How did you become interested in bioethics?
When I came to the U.S., I had no knowledge about ethics, professionalism, or informed consent. I realized that this was an area I needed to learn about so I decided to get that education. I completed a postgraduate diploma in Medical Law and Ethics at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and that opened a lot of doors for me.

What made you choose to come to RUSM after 22 years at CMSRU?
When you reach age 50 you ask yourself, what will help you develop a legacy? Now, at age 53, I’m thinking about how many people I can reach and how I can make a meaningful difference in their lives. At Ross I have the chance to educate thousands of students per year, so I decided to take a risk and try something new. I also appreciate that Ross is providing a second chance to many of its students. These students may have struggled in a course such as organic chemistry, or been forced to pursue a prior career for family or financial reasons. I like those kinds of students. They are generally mature and not entitled; they appreciate having a second chance and they want to do well.

What do you like to do in your “spare” time?
I enjoy reading publications outside of medicine, such as the New York Times Sunday Magazine, National Geographic, and the Harvard Business Review. I also enjoy American movies, politics and of course American football.


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ADMISSIONS ADVICE: Steps for Success on Your Medical School Interview

August 12, 2015

RUSM Admissions Advisor Matt Fessler
RUSM Graduate Admissions Advisor Matt Fessler

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.There are many factors that go into a successful medical school interview, but Matt identified three key ingredients: know yourself, know the school, and be professional.

Got a question for Matt? Send him an email!

1. Know Yourself

During your interview, it‘s important that you are able to thoroughly discuss your past experiences and accomplishments. “Anything on a resume, application, or other supporting documents is fair game to talk about in the interview,” he says. “And regardless of your qualifications on paper, if you can’t talk about yourself in an engaging way, you aren’t going to get very far in the interview. After all, we want to get to know you.”

It’s likely that you have years of educational, extracurricular, and professional experience under your belt, so it may be helpful to review your documents and resumé to ensure that your memory is fresh on any topic an interviewer may want to explore further. Just as important: that you’re able to delve into why you want to become a physician, and demonstrate an understanding of medical school and the field in general.

2. Know the School

One way to impress an admissions advisor, according to Matt, is by “demonstrating an in-depth understanding of the school.” Do research on the university and its academic program, and prepare to answer questions on why you want to go to your school of choice and what attracted you to the program. This not only shows that you are well prepared for your meeting with the admissions advisor, but also demonstrates a genuine interest in attending the program. If you don’t know much about the school to which you’re applying, the interviewer may not take your interest seriously.

Ross University Admissions - Interview Tips and Advice

3. Demonstrate Professionalism

The medical school interview is an opportunity to put your best foot forward, and professionalism in both demeanor and appearance is vital. Matt recommends you “dress to impress,” and believes it’s always better to overdress than underdress. Professional attire isn’t just suggested: it’s expected, and showing up to an interview underdressed can give a negative impression. 

“Be courteous, professional, and respectful,” he says. “And don’t forget to smile, shake hands, and make eye contact—these might sound like small things, but they can add up to equal a really positive medical school candidate.”

Be confident (but not overconfident!), and be careful when it comes to your personal life. “It's okay to tell personal stories,” he says. “But remember that there’s a fine line between what’s appropriate and what isn’t."

Action Steps: Before (and After) the Interview

In addition to the key elements above, it’s imperative that you practice your interviewing skills. Mock interviews, practicing with friends, or even practicing in the mirror can help you feel more comfortable and confident once it’s time for the official interview.

“When it comes to practice questions, ‘tell me about yourself’ is a great one,” Matt says. “Try using that as a practice exercise.”

Another piece of advice: Come with questions of your own, which is often expected in an interview. Matt recommends writing your questions down, which demonstrates that you came prepared. Some good topics to address include a school's curriculum, life on campus, what clinical training is like, and residency placement rates.

Once your interview is over, don’t forget to send an email or card to thank your admissions advisor for their time, and to touch on some things you learned and what you might look forward to as an enrolled student.

Matthew Fessler has been a graduate admissions advisor with RUSM for two years. As part of his ongoing responsibilities, Matt works closely with new first-semester RUSM students to help them successfully transition to the basic sciences program. He also advises both prospective and current students and interviews candidates for admission to the school. Email Matt at



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Tags: Admissions

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CLINICAL UPDATE: What's Coming Up for RUSM's Clinical Program?

August 07, 2015

RUSM clinical students in rotations

A number of Caribbean medical schools can claim a solid basic science program that prepares students to perform well on US licensing exams. That’s certainly important, but what about the clinical years? For students at Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM), their clinical training in the United States lasts longer than the time they spend in Dominica acquiring the basic science knowledge. Knowing that, and knowing the importance that a strong clinical education plays in making students competitive for residency, RUSM has made significant improvements to help ensure that their clinical experiences are more powerful, convenient, and engaging.

Read on to learn what’s coming up for our clinical students—and what’s already in place for those who are just about to wrap up the Foundations of Medicine (basic sciences) portion of their medical education.

An “Absolutely Fantastic” Clinical Experience for RUSM Students

RUSM clinical students using advanced techAside from our students, there may be no one more excited about the clinical strides we’ve made than Gary Belotzerkovsky, assistant dean for clinical student affairs.  

“The clinical program at RUSM is looking absolutely fantastic,” said Belotzerkovsky. “We focus on three key components of a RUSM student’s clinical experience—the educational quality of the clinical site, convenience for our clinical students, and support services. I’m excited to say that we’re delivering on all fronts.”

If you’re currently a RUSM clinical student (or are about to become one), odds are you’ve at least heard of Belotzerkovsky—though his role generally revolves around strategically evolving RUSM’s clinical program to meet the needs of RUSM students, he also takes the time to personally help individual students as they’re planning or scheduling rotations. In one notable instance, a student was having trouble scheduling elective rotations with a hospital. Belotzerkovsky hopped on the phone with the student and hospital—the issue was resolved that day.

“I love my job, and love working with our students,” Belotzerkovsky says. “As we continue evolving the clinical program here at RUSM, one goal is for us to help make sure that students don’t have any problems while scheduling clinicals. But if they do, they can count on their dedicated team of advisors here at RUSM to help guide them through the process.”


A Dedicated Support Team That Follows You Through Clinicals

That team of advisors that Belotzerkovsky is referring to is part of the Rely on Students Services (ROSS) Model, an institutional initiative that sets every RUSM clinical student up with a dedicated team of support staff:  a financial aid advisor, two clinical advisor(s), and other professionals who can support students during the clinical years.

“This team of advisors is with the student for the entirety of the last two years of medical school,” Belotzerkovsky says. “It’s our way of making sure that no matter where you are in the clinical program, you’ll have someone to help guide you every step of the way.”

Learn more about the ROSS Model here.

Academic Homes for Our Clinical Students: All Students Now on Tracked Rotations

Perhaps most exciting to Belotzerkovsky is that now, all incoming RUSM clinical students are automatically placed on one of our new “clinical tracks”—a term that refers to teaching hospitals, ones affiliated with RUSM, that are all clustered around the same geographical area. For example, RUSM’s New York clinical track is made up of St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, and New York Methodist Hospital. A clinical student entering his or her third year of medical school can complete all third-year core rotations at one of these hospitals.

Years ago, RUSM clinical students had to move around during their third and fourth years. Those days are past.

View the list of RUSM-affiliated hospitals here.

The benefit of completing all of your core rotations at just one site? Students not only can focus on their clinical training without having to worry about moving from location to location, but this also gives them the opportunity to establish long-lasting relationships with residents, program directors, and other colleagues at the site.

“It creates true continuity for a third-year clinical student—they complete all of their cores at one site, rather than shuttling around from hospital to hospital,” Belotzerkovsky says. “Plus, with a tracked site, it means the clinical students there have a centralized location for studying for their licensure exams and working with fellow students on preparing for USMLE Step 2 CS.”

Get more details about our tracked clinical rotations.

RUSM clinical students moving up

What’s Coming Up in RUSM’s Clinical Program?

Belotzerkovsky and his team are constantly making improvements to RUSM’s clinical program. For example, Belotzerkovsky and his team are continually working with hospitals to develop additional clinical tracks across the United States, with the goal of giving clinical students more regional options—and more locational convenience.Here’s a brief snapshot of what’s coming up in the near term.

  • New NJ/NY clinical track. RUSM has partnered with several hospitals in the New York/New Jersey area to create the BQNJ (Brooklyn-Queens-New Jersey) Track. This partnership provides additional opportunities for a significant number of RUSM students, with a 48-week tracked curriculum across the six core disciplines at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center for internal medicine, surgery and pediatrics, Hoboken University Medical Center for family medicine, and St. John’s Episcopal Hospital for OB/GYN and psychiatry. This track will be available in October 2015.
  • For students looking for a New York-only experience, RUSM is pleased to announce a full track program with several hospitals in the New York area. Referred to as the JFK Track, this partnership provides additional opportunities for a significant number of RUSM students with a 48-week tracked curriculum across the six core disciplines at South Nassau Communities Hospital for surgery, pediatrics, OB/GYN and family medicine and St. John’s Episcopal Hospital for internal medicine and psychiatry. This track also will be available in October 2015.
  • More convenience: Soon, thanks to an online clinical scheduling platform currently in development, third-year students will be able to log in to a sophisticated database to schedule their core rotations at RUSM clinical tracks. Fourth-year clinical students can also see what electives are available at RUSM affiliate sites using this system.
  • Additional elective sites: The clinical team continues to explore additional elective-only affiliate sites—primarily ones accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) that offer both residency and fellowship programs.

Tags: Clinical Program , Student Services

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AWARDS: Ceremonies Held for Students' Academic Achievements

August 03, 2015

Recently, the Interim Senior Associate Dean of Ross University School of Medicine’s (RUSM) Dominica campus Dr. Stanley White and Dr. Paul Abney, assistant dean for educational assessment and associate professor of behavioral sciences, hosted this semester’s Dean’s Honor Roll and Dean’s List awards ceremony. More than 150 students received this distinction for excellent academic performance during the past semester, January – April. 


 (From left: Anthony Adetomiwa, left, Dr. Stanley White, Nadia Khosrodad, Sheshadrie Saha, Dr. Paul Abney, and Haytham Aboushi.)


Tags: Academics

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