Ross University Blog

THE TOP 16: Handpicked Ross Stories from 2016

December 29, 2016

A 40-year-old mother and wife who suffered a tragic loss and went on to earn her medical degree. A Canadian judo expert (and former Olympian) who traded athletic gear for a white coat. A third-year resident who almost didn’t apply to medical school at all—because he didn’t fit his own preset notions of what a doctor was.

These stories (and more) make up the broader Ross story, and we hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as we’ve enjoyed telling it. So as a follow-up to 2015’s Ross best-of list, we’ve combed through dozens of stories published this year and collected some of the posts that engaged our visitors the most. Check them out below—and thanks for reading and sharing our story!

Without further ado and in no particular order, the top 16 from 2016:

This Alum, Now a Neurologist, Wouldn’t Take No for an Answer. Good Thing She Didn’t. Perseverance, personality and a little help from her dad. That’s how 2003 Ross graduate Amy Jarvis, MD, got to where she is now. A vascular neurologist for the Miami-Dade Neuroscience Institute, her medical career spans more than a decade—Jarvis has evaluated NFL athletes for concussion and possible neurological trauma, served as director of stroke for two separate healthcare facilities, and more. And she isn’t accustomed to backing down from a challenge—so years ago, when someone told her she had no shot of getting into medical school, she didn’t take no for an answer. Read her story here.

The Top 7 Survival Skills Medical Students Need to Succeed. As a medical school student, what skills do you need to perform well in the basic sciences part of the program? Ross Dean Joseph A. Flaherty, MD, sat down with Vijay Rajput, MD—Professor and Chairman of Medicine and Medical Director, Office for Student Professional Development—to help answer that question. During their discussion, the duo identified the top seven survival skills needed to thrive during the early, formative years of medical study. Check out the tips.

One Grad’s Musings on Dominica, Residency, and His 'Amazing' Ross Experience. There’s this quote that 2008 graduate Andrew Medvedovsky really likes: If you don’t demand perfection from yourself, nobody else will. The person giving the quote was Medvedovsky’s mentor—Dr. Maged Hamza, who directed Medvedovsky’s interventional pain management fellowship at Virginia Commonwealth University. And the sentiment has served him well in both his education and practice. In a far-reaching interview, Medvedovsky muses on life in Dominica, clinical rotations in the US, old preconceptions he had about Ross, and what it really means to be a doctor. Read his interview here. 

Ross Presents 2016 Residency Results and Highlights. More than 785 Ross graduates attained residencies in 2016. You can view the list here, but we decided to take things a step further with this post and really dive into some of the individual placements and specialties. If you’re looking for more detail on some of the great residencies attained by our graduates in 2016, this post is for you. Read it here.

Grad Goes from Olympics to Sports Medicine Fellowship in Canada. Sure, people make all sorts of career changes to follow their dreams of practicing medicine—but it’s pretty rare that one of our graduates can list “former Olympic athlete” as their prior occupation. But that’s exactly the case with 2013 Ross graduate Keith Morgan, MD. But post-2008, he was “happy where I was in my sports life.” It was time to move on to a different career, but preferably something that kept him in sports. That’s where Ross came in. Read Keith’s story.

How Ross Grad Lilian Sarfati Impressed on Day 1 of Residency (and Beyond). There’s this story that 2012 graduate Lilian Sarfati, MD, likes to share about her first day of residency. Sarfati and seven of her resident colleagues get pulled into a room. It’s just them, one nurse, and a patient on a gurney having a heart attack. It’s a patient safety simulation, to be clear—structured to help residents learn to work together as an organized healthcare team—and not a real patient. What happened next ended up really impressing that exercise’s coordinator—and made her proud to be a Ross student. Read Lilian’s story here.

Debunking the “Doctor Type.” Sometimes, your greatest obstacles can be in your own head. A prime example: Ross grad Dr. Kyle Evers. Throughout high school, he had a strong interest in the sciences and a natural desire to help people. Yet when thinking about his future career, medicine barely crossed his mind as a possibility. Why? He didn’t fit his own notion of the doctor type. “In my mind, doctors were people who never had to study—those kids who got straight A’s without even trying,” Dr. Evers explains. “That wasn’t me. So I didn’t really consider myself a future doctor.” But now, it’s safe to say his views on who can be a doctor have expanded. Wondering what he’s been up to? Read his story and find out.

An Unconventional Path to Practicing Psychiatry. On her daily walk to the emergency room where she works in Manhattan, Kendra Campbell, MD '10 takes pictures of things that inspire her along the way—a rusty pay phone, an abandoned Barbie doll, the rose-patterned skeleton of an old sofa. She likes finding beauty in things you wouldn’t necessarily think are beautiful, she says—an outlook she brings to her job as Assistant Director of the Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. “What I like about being a psychiatrist in the emergency room is that you see people at their breaking points,” says Dr. Campbell. “I have this unique opportunity to make a profound impact on their lives. And that is a very precious, fulfilling thing.” Read her story.

MERP Student Inspires Through Blogging (and Makes Dean’s List, Too). “I average about 14 emails a week from prospective students,” says Emma Cronk, a native of a small rural town called Parham in Ontario. “And that’s not counting my Instagram messages!” Is Emma Cronk an admissions counselor? No—she’s a fourth-semester student at Ross. But since the blog where she chronicles her medical school journey took off among prospective students, she’s found herself a go-to resource for hopefuls asking about her experience, seeking advice and simply wanting to know more about her. She started her blog in fall 2014 as a way to keep in touch with family after she entered the Medical Education Readiness Program (MERP) prior to beginning medical school. Read her story.

Alumna Shares the Path She Designed to Obtain Her Preferred Residency. Ross grad Fusun Dikengil, MD has been working as an internal medicine resident at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) for several months now. Dikengil landed her first choice residency, keeping her within the vicinity of where she resides. However, Dikengil obtaining her residency top pick was no happy coincidence. She was very strategic about her clinical training experiences to increase her chances of obtaining her preferred residency appointment. How’d she do it? Find out here.

The Patient Experience That Drove This Student to Attend Med School. It was the patient Mike Farrell couldn’t help—even though he knew what type of treatment was needed—that ultimately convinced him to enroll in medical school. Until then, Farrell was loving his career as a chiropractor. But then he got a phone call from a man whose wife needed immediate care. Farrell took the appointment, examined his patient when she arrived, and knew exactly what she needed. But chiropractic’s scope of practice is limited. Farrell couldn’t prescribe necessary treatments. Only a medical doctor could. Now a fourth-year student at Ross, Farrell is well on his way to solving that problem.  Read his story.

From Haiti to Minnesota: Alum Set to Begin Surgery Residency at Mayo Clinic. “It’s like a boulder came off my back,” said Marc Olivier Duverseau when describing the sense of relief he felt after obtaining a residency position. Duverseau will attend the preliminary surgery program at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Duverseau was born and raised in Haiti and arrived to the United States at age 18 to attend the University of Tampa. Read his story.

Ross Grads Earn Chief Resident Spots for 2016-2017 Residency Year. Hundreds of Ross graduates started residency training in July 2016. 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 2016-2017 year. Chief residents are entrusted with developing clinical rotation schedules, performing administrative duties, and supervising junior residents, among other responsibilities. Check out the list.

40-Year-Old Med Student Overcomes Obstacles, Inspires Others.

You’re almost 40. Who would decide to go to medical school at this age? That's just one example of the crass opposition that Joyce Haynes Busch, MD (‘16) remembers getting when she decided, at age 38, to apply to medical school. “They didn’t know me, and already they labeled me as a failure,” she remembers. Unwilling to let the naysayers stop her and committed to achieving her dream of becoming a physician—despite suffering a tragic personal loss—Haynes Busch decided to press on in a very public way. Read her story.

Alum Earns Radiology Residency in Spite of “So-Called Disability”
“For those of us with so-called disabilities, if you persevere long enough, eventually your weakness will become your strength.”

That’s Ross graduate Johnathon Stephens, speaking about his own personal challenges and how he leveraged them to succeed as a Ross graduate. Stephens is hard of hearing, and coordinated with Ross to get the resources he needed to earn his degree, including making arrangements for sign language interpreters from Hands in Motion during his clerkships for clinical training. Stephens, who has returned to his hometown of Peoria, IL for his radiology residency, advises medical students to “never give up.” It’s a mantra he has applied to his own life. Read about his Ross experience.

Alum Tells His Couples Match Experience with Wife, Ross Alumna
Ross alumnus Brian Kendall, MD, Class of 2013, was chief resident in the Department of Emergency Medicine at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas from 2015-2016. He had an interesting reason for pursuing his degree at Ross: He and his wife had been married for a year prior to applying for medical school—and they wanted to attend the same school.

Ross went out of its way, he said, to make them feel welcome as a couple. They interviewed on the same day, and met with Ross admissions associates both individually as a couple. “It was a great experience, and we knew that we would fit in well,” he said. Read his story.

Looking for more? Check out the Ross Blog!

Tags: Alumni , Residency , Students

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DEAN'S BLOG: Dean Flaherty's End-of-Year Message for 2016

December 28, 2016

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

It has been a good year at Ross University School of Medicine. Our graduates attained more than 780 residencies in 2016 in more than 15 disciplines, including pediatrics, surgery, internal medicine, family medicine, neurology, anesthesiology, radiology, and more. There were some high-profile matches, such as the one in which a Ross graduate matched into the exceptionally competitive neurological surgery program at SUNY Upstate Medical Center. We have also developed new clinical partnerships that should be helpful to us next year.

Among the highlights of the year is the rollout and implementation of the core clerkship curriculum online. All cores now have weekly learning tasks and required lectures, with online alternative learning materials for the lectures that are not delivered in person by site faculty. This will help to ensure that students’ educational experiences will be comparable across sites.

The curriculum committee on campus continues to do outstanding work in an effort to integrate and decompress the basic science curriculum to introduce more small group and team-based learning as well as formative assessment.

Another accomplishment this year has been the reuniting of our enrollment, admissions and marketing efforts into one unit under Vice Dean Peter Goetz. Filling key positions on this team are three people who have returned to Ross: Jamie Drucker, senior director of marketing; Sean Powers, national director of admissions; and Jennifer Yao, director of enrollment management. We are also pleased to announce the successful recruitment of Tyrone Donnon, Ph.D, to serve as director of the Center for Teaching and Learning on the Dominica campus.

This year we reaffirmed our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and respect for students, colleagues and all humanity. This is a statement of our deeply-held values and our pledge to uphold them. We are proud of the great diversity among our 12,000+ alumni, and our students and colleagues, throughout the years and today. We strongly believe it is our diversity that results in our success in supplying our nation’s doctors in primary care and in poor rural and urban areas.  We have been getting the word out about several aspects of our medical education program, the quality of our graduates, many of them from underrepresented minorities, and their post-graduation outcomes, including the fact that so many are choosing to practice in underserved areas.    

Some of the publications in the media in which my op-eds have appeared include, “Chicago needs a more diverse pool of doctors,” in Crain’s on June 28, and “International medical graduates help fill NY's primary care needs,” on, December 14.

We look forward to ringing in 2017 as another successful year for our school. I wish you a good holiday season and a happy, healthy New Year.

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Tags: Flaherty , Leadership

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ALUMNI: Endocrinologist on Treating Diabetes and the Ross Experience

December 19, 2016

We recently spoke with alum Karla Arce, MD (‘10), to talk about her work as a practicing endocrinologist and her time at Ross University School of Medicine. Dr. Arce, who was born in Peru, earned her undergraduate degree in biology at Florida International University, and her master’s degree in biomedical sciences at Barry University, both in Miami. The following is an excerpt from our Q&A with her.

Ross: Where you are practicing currently, and what types of patients do you see?
Dr. Arce: I’m currently employed by Mount Sinai Medical Center, and mainly work in their satellite, multi-specialty clinic in Coral Gables, Florida. The majority of patients I see are for diabetes and thyroid disorders. I also see patients with pituitary and adrenal disorders. 

Is diabetes preventable? Is it on the rise in the US?
Type 2 diabetes is a preventable disease. Type 1 diabetes unfortunately is not. Diabetes is growing at an epidemic rate in the United States; nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes, and out of that number, nearly 95% have type 2.

What advice do you give to pre-diabetic or diabetic patients?
I advise patients to lose about 7% of their weight if they are overweight or obese. I recommend moderate-intensity exercise such as brisk walking for 30 minutes a day, five days a week. I also tell patients to stop smoking, reduce carbohydrate intake, eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and drink less alcohol.

Tell me about your experience at Ross. How did you like life in Dominica?
Overall, I would say my experience at Ross was a positive one. Moving to Dominica was my first time away from home and the first semester was very challenging, but I met great people along the way and we helped one another. The campus had some technological advances and it was in the process of expanding but we had the basic necessities and support we needed. For my clinical rotations I got the opportunity to live in different states, such as New York, New Jersey, Georgia and Florida, and I learned from different health care systems and worked with great physicians. I worked hard to excel during my clinical rotations and pre-matched at my top residency program at Cleveland Clinic Florida. It's up to students to make the most of the opportunity.

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Tags: Florida , Residency , Alumni , Endocrinology , Diabetes

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CLINICAL SPOTLIGHT: New Clinical Track Program in Ohio

December 15, 2016

Ross University School of Medicine is pleased to announce a new clinical track site at Western Reserve Health Education (WHRE) in Youngstown, Ohio. Through this partnership, Ross students will have the opportunity to complete a full 48-week clinical track program at WHRE. This third-year program will be comprised of six core clerkships: Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, OB/GYN, Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Surgery.

WHRE is an acute care facility offering a variety of health care services to a diverse patient population. A major teaching hospital, WHRE sponsors Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) -approved programs in Family Medicine, Internal Medicine and Surgery, training more than 60 residents per year.

Ross students will rotate through WHRE at the Northside Medical Center campus, a university-affiliated hospital offering inpatient, surgical, emergency, diagnostic, and surgical services. The newly renovated hospital is a designated Level III trauma center providing outstanding, award-winning patient care. In addition, Northside Medical Center is a Primary Stroke Center certified by The Joint Commission and has also received The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for total hip and knee replacement procedures.

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Tags: Clinical Sciences , Ohio

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ALUMNI: Ross Grad Earns Award for Leadership of Residency Program

December 09, 2016

Each year, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) honors outstanding residency program directors with the Parker J. Palmer Courage to Teach Award. This award recognizes those who find innovative ways to teach residents and provide quality care, while remaining connected to the initial empathetic impulse felt by so many physicians.

The award’s namesake believed that good teaching requires courage—the courage to explore the unknown and challenge convention, as well as the courage to give it one’s all despite an all too common lack of recognition. This year, that courage is exemplified by award recipient and Ross alumnus Curtis Whitehair, MD (‘00).

Dr. Whitehair is the associate medical director of regional physiatry at MedStar National Rehabilitation Network, where he’s responsible for overseeing all ambulatory physician services. He is the vice chair of education in the Department of Rehabilitation at Georgetown University Medical Center and associate professor of clinical rehabilitation medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He is also the program director of the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital/National Rehabilitation Hospital (GUH/NRH) PM&R Residency Training Program—it was in this role, specifically, that he was recognized by the ACGME.

When Whitehair first came on board as director, the residency program was on probation. Poster presentations were rare. Today, under Dr. Whitehair’s leadership, the program has transformed into one that graduates top-scoring residents—this year, 11 of Dr. Whitehair’s 18 residents scored above the 90th percentile, with 10 of those scoring above the 96th percentile, in the Self-Assessment Exam for Residents (SAE-R).

“We have at least three papers that are being published this year from our residents,” he adds. “Two years ago, we had 40 poster abstracts accepted and, in the last five years, we’ve had more poster abstracts accepted than any other entity at national meetings. This award has my name on it, but it’s a reflection of our program, the incredible team of people in it who are willing to try new ideas, and all that the residents have accomplished as a result.”

Here are just some of the reasons why Dr. Whitehair was recognized with the Courage to Teach Award.

He Looks Ahead.

“Too often, we develop curriculum that gets you through your residency training,” Dr. Whitehair says. “But if all I’ve done is gotten you through, you may not be prepared for what happens five years after you graduate. We want our residents to be prepared for that, too, so that’s why I tell applicants when they’re interviewing that we developed what I call a horizon curriculum.”

Dr. Whitehair’s “horizon curriculum” looks at the technology that may be at physicians’ fingertips later in their careers, and starts to implement it in residency. For example, five years ago when musculoskeletal ultrasounds arrived at the forefront, Whitehair and his team revamped their program to include a month-long rotation on the technology.

Similarly, Dr. Whitehair created a cancer rehabilitation program before it became mainstream. “We are willing to jump on those bandwagons early, and really immerse ourselves in those opportunities for our residents,” he adds. “It helps our residents stay ahead of the curve in what’s coming for them when they graduate.”

He Trains for the Real World.

In addition to integrating emerging technologies into training, Dr. Whitehair also makes sure to prepare residents for the realities of practice. One way he’s done that is by establishing a continuity clinic that’s one of a kind.

During their second year, residents learn about a patient under the guidance of a fourth-year resident, and stick with that patient throughout the duration of the three-year program. By the time they’ve reached their fourth year, they’re guiding the next class of second-year residents on that same patient. “The residents see these patients as theirs, and if that patient calls, they will get paged while they’re on the floor regardless of what service they’re on,” says Dr. Whitehair. “And, if one team member is away, the other team members must find a way to cover. That’s how it works in the real world.”

But the payoff of this training technique isn’t limited to the residents. Dr. Whitehair also points out that patients get better care when there’s continuity. Not only do patients feel more comfortable with doctors they have gotten to know (no revolving door here!), but outcomes can be improved when residents develop such an intimate understanding of the patient in this way. “There are things you don’t put into a medical record, like family dynamics, which can have an impact on care,” says Dr. Whitehair. “It is a huge advantage to the patient and the doctor when there is a yearlong transition period of onboarding a new resident to the case, under the guidance of the existing resident.”

He’s Tackling Industry Challenges.

Beginning with their first year in the program, residents are trained in the science behind quality improvement and patient safety. This training evolves throughout the residency, to include “doing more than the minimum requirements,” says Dr. Whitehair. “The big issue is answering the question: What can we do to keep patients safer while they’re in the hospital?”

Dr. Whitehair starts with leaving the lecture hall. “There are guidelines that say you should teach residents about transition of care, for example, and some programs offer one lecture and check that box,” he says. “We have the residents work on projects about how to effectively do that transition of care. They aren’t just sitting in a lecture. They are working on projects that have an outcome in these areas.”

He Leads by Example.

Sensitivity and compassion for patients is something that, one might argue, cannot be taught. But Dr. Whitehair sets an example for his residents that he hopes will set the bar for patient interactions. “It starts with how we treat the residents themselves,” he explains. His office is right next door to the resident lounge, and he meets with them once per week. He strives to be involved with the residents, rather than dictating from an ivory tower. “I am a very open person, and I want them to know they can get in touch with me and that I’ll listen,” he says. “I want to show them that I personally care, and that we as an institution care, and that hopefully instills in them that this is the care you should give your patients.”

He Keeps Momentum.

“A lot of programs out there find the secret sauce and keep it that way, but if you actually look at the science and business world, the top companies don’t usually stay at the top forever,” Dr. Whitehair says. “We are always looking for ways to improve and take this program to a new level. We’re not chasing awards. We’re just trying to make this a really great place for people to learn, and I think that’s what we’re doing. And I want to keep that momentum going.”  

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Tags: Alumni , Residency , Innovation

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