Ross University Blog

Want to Change Careers and Become a Physician? Check Out Our Online Guide

February 29, 2016

Whether you’re a teacher or a nurse, a medical lab technician or a computer programmer, Ross could be the next step in your journey to an MD degree. We’ve graduated students who have likely been in very similar situations to yours, and they’ve gone on to earn their MDs, attain residencies and fellowships, and move on to careers as physicians.

At Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM), we’re dedicated to giving students from all walks of life an opportunity to realize their dreams and become physicians. To that end, we recently created an online guide for students looking to change careers and enter the world of medicine. Expect the following in this digital resource:

  • A primer on what makes a “nontraditional” medical school student, and why these students could be attractive candidates for our program
  • A sampling of careers that our graduates have held before enrolling at RUSM
  • A step-by-step guide describing what you, as a career-changing medical school student, need to do to get your application ready for submission
  • Profiles of RUSM grads who have made the career leap—read about the jobs they held, and where they are now in their medical careers

Check out our career changes guide here.

Tags: Admissions

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January MCAT Scores Released. Does Your Score Qualify You for Admission?

February 23, 2016

The Association of American Medical Colleges today released MCAT scores for students who took the test on Jan. 22 or 23. To enroll in Ross University School of Medicine’s May 2016 class, you’ll need to have taken the MCAT on or before these dates.

If you just received your score and are curious about whether your MCAT score is acceptable for admission to RUSM, there’s a quick way to find out—our online candidate assessment tool. It only takes about a minute, and it generates a personalized report about your potential candidacy. You’ll need your MCAT score and undergraduate grade point average handy to use the tool.

Try the candidate assessment tool here.

Tags: Admissions , MCAT

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CHIEF RESIDENT: Meet Pathology Resident Jason Chen, MD

February 22, 2016

Jason Chen, Chief Resident, University of Tennessee Medical Center

Jason Chen, Chief Resident, University of Tennessee Medical Center

During a recent conversation with RUSM alumnus Jason Chen, he shared his perspective on what it takes to become a chief resident and what's expected to maintain the position.

RUSM: What attracted you to RUSM?

CHEN: I went into medical school with Pathology in mind after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a Medical Technology degree. At the time, I'd heard of Ross University School of Medicine through friends who had been accepted to RUSM and had explained the basic science and clinical years of the school to me. After some research, I saw the success of previous alumni. I was convinced RUSM had all the resources I needed to achieve a successful career in medicine. I was in the graduating class of May 2013 and now currently in my third year of anatomic pathology and clinical pathology residency training at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.

RUSM: How did you prepare for the National Resident Matching Program® Match?

CHEN: To prepare for the match, I took some time to research for the prospective programs that were fitting with what I wanted to get out of a residency program. The areas in which I focused on were a combination of university and academic setting, case volume and complexity, and most of all, the faculty and general atmosphere of the program by assessing its residents’ attitude toward their professional and personal wellness at the program.

RUSM: What are the top two or three ways in which RUSM helped prepare you for your residency position?

CHEN:  The OSPD Career Advisors counsel students on how to prepare to enter The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) and/or specialty matches and provide helpful resources to assist students in preparing successful applications. OSPD also provides information that can be helpful in determining the specialties that best suit a student’s academic interest and performance and advises on interview skills and the residency application process. I had the good fortune of meeting some brilliant minds in the field of pathology during my clinical years. I established a network with many practicing pathologist in New York who helped me with both a better understanding in pathology as well as provided me the excellent references I needed to secure my own residency position.

RUSM: What additional responsibilities have you assumed after becoming a chief resident?

CHEN: Becoming chief resident this year has been a great experience and has helped me develop a tremendous amount of personal and professional growth.

The faculty's selection of chief resident is a compliment and a sign of their faith in your abilities in medical knowledge, professionalism, and leadership. Keeping an organized and balanced work style is essential to act as a trustworthy liaison between your colleagues and your attending physicians. Chief residents also interact with residents from other programs, coordinate lectures, and are deeply involved in discussions regarding the training program's goal and objectives to help design an effective curriculum and implement improvements.

RUSM: What’s next for you?

CHEN: I will finish my residency training in Knoxville in June 2017 and starting my Surgical Pathology Fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.

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Tags: Residency , Alumni , Texas

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ALUMNI: Heart to Heart with Ramzan M. Zakir, MD, FACC, FSCAI

February 17, 2016

In recognition of American Heart Month, the “Heart to Heart” series provides an inside look into the career path of cardiologists who got their start at RUSM. Below Dr. Zakir, cardiologist, professor and sought-after expert speaker, shares his experience in providing innovative medical treatments.

RUSM: What influenced you to pursue medicine?

It was my father's dream for me to pursue a career in medicine. I always enjoyed science classes so the interest was definitely there on my side as well.

RUSM: Why did you choose cardiology as a specialty?

ZAKIR: Once in medical school, I was fascinated with cardiovascular pathophysiology and my interest to pursue a career in cardiology began. I spent a day with my Dad's cardiologist in the office and really enjoyed the patient interactions which helped cement my decision.

RUSM: What do you find most rewarding about being a cardiologist?

ZAKIR: What I find most rewarding and the main reason for pursuing a career in interventional cardiology is that interventions can have an immediate positive impact on patients’ lives, and can be life-saving in acute settings. Seeing the patient's and the family's appreciation for my efforts and outcomes is why I love being an interventional cardiologist.

RUSM: Therefore, I would imagine a career highlight for you is being a part of innovative technology used in your department, like the Lightbox to treat peripheral artery disease. Can you talk about that?

ZAKIR:  It [the Lightbox] allows you to visualize inside the artery to improve success rates in crossing arteries in the legs that are completely blocked. By imaging inside the artery, we can more safely and effectively manage patients that are suffering from debilitating peripheral arterial disease. We were one of the first sites in the country to adapt and utilize this technology.  (See video)

alt text
Dr. Zakir discusses new treatment option for patients with Peripheral Artery Disease.

More on Ramzan M. Zakir, MD, FACC, FSCAI



  • Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
  • Director of Transradial Catheterization, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
  • Director of Peripheral Vascular Program, Saint Peters University Hospital


  • Resident, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) and Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC)
  • Chief Resident, UMDNJ and HUMC
  • Cardiology Fellow, UMDNJ and HUMC
  • Chief Fellow, UMDNJ and HUMC
  • Interventional Fellow, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center

For several years, Dr. Zakir has been an invited faculty member at numerous conferences, see select highlights below:

Philadelphia Cardiovascular Symposium presented by the International Society of Endovascular Specialist (2015)
Presenter: Drug Coated Balloons for the Treatment of Critical Limb Ischemia (CLI) (see video)

alt text
Dr. Zakir presenting at the Philadelphia Cardiovascular Symposium hosted by the International Society of Endovascular Specialist.

Chicago Endovascular Conference (2015)
Panelist: Business of Medicine – Arterial and Venous
Panelist: Below-the-knee Intervention/Would Care Pedal Intervention II
Co-Presenter: Complex Pedal Access and Below-the-Knee Cases

Complex Cardiovascular Catheter Therapeutics (2015)
Panelist, Moderator, and Presenter during several sessions

New Cardiovascular Horizons (2015)
(General Session and Summit Talk): Drug-Eluting Stent Implantation for the Treatment of CLI and Rotational Atherectomy and Thrombectomy in CLI: How is this Different from Other Devices?

Euro PCR in Paris, France (2012)
: CLI After Bypass Graft Failure


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Tags: Alumni , New Jersey

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ALUMNI: Heart to Heart with Reid Muller, MD, FACC, FACP

February 11, 2016

Reid Muller, MD, FACC, FACP

Reid Muller, MD, FACC, FACP

In recognition of American Heart Month, the “Heart to Heart” series provides an inside look into the career path of cardiologists who got their start at RUSM. Below Dr. Muller shares his experience, including his position as a United States Air Force Flight Surgeon for the Air National Guard and Air Surgeon for the state of New York.

RUSM: What influenced your decision to pursue medicine?

MULLER:  I was influenced to go into medicine by my family doctor growing up. He was an amazing person and an incredible clinician.

RUSM: You mentioned that you were a United States Air Force Flight Surgeon for the Air National Guard, what was that like?

My Air Force career was quite varied. I started out as a squadron level flight surgeon in an airlift wing in Newburgh, NY. It offered opportunities to fly all over the world, as well as participate in humanitarian medical missions, particularly in Central America.

Eventually, I was offered command of a medical squadron attached to a fighter wing in Syracuse, near where I lived at the time. I was a squadron commander in a front-line fighter wing. I had the opportunity to fly at supersonic speeds and “pull G’s” (the act of diving and dropping an aircraft at such great accelerated speeds that a gravitational force is created) in fighter aircrafts such as the F-15 and F-16.

Then, 9-11 happened. For much of the next four years, I sometimes spent as much time on active duty as I did in private practice. I participated in multiple combat deployments, as well as a stint as the Task Force Surgeon at Ground Zero.

RUSM: What was your role like when you were selected as the Air Surgeon for New York State in 2007?

MULLER: I assumed oversight and supervision of the medical forces assigned to five Air Wings as well as the Eastern Air Defense Sector, and was responsible for the medical readiness of over 6,000 airmen. If New York was its own country, we would have the world’s 11th largest air force.

We additionally worked with state and federal agencies on disaster preparedness and response to weapons of mass destruction. Throughout my career, I think the consistent highlight was the opportunity to work with incredible people. I had X-ray techs whose ‘day’ job was CEO of a hospital, a nurse who was a Lieutenant in the NY Fire Department, a lab tech who ran the research labs at a major medical school; and I had the opportunity to care for many brave men and women who selflessly put their lives on the line to protect their country and their loved ones.

RUSM: Why did you choose cardiology as your specialty?
MULLER:  I decided to go into cardiology as a number of family members were stricken by heart disease. I found that this is what often influences many of us to choose our respective specialties.
RUSM: What do you find most rewarding about being a cardiologist?
MULLER:  I have found cardiology to be very rewarding - you have the opportunity to intervene in a person’s life at a particularly critical moment, salvage him or her from a potentially life-ending catastrophe, and restore patients to a decent quality of life and functionality.

More on Reid Muller, MD, FACC, FACP

Graduated: RUSM Class of 1984


  • Air Surgeon, New York State
  • Member, New York State Board for Professional Medical Conduct
  • Retired, United States Air Force Flight Surgeon, Air National Guard (25 years of service)

Post-Graduate Training

  • Internal Medicine Residency, Methodist Hospital, NY, NY
  • Cardiology Fellowship, Methodist Hospital, NY, NY

Professional Interests

  • Advanced heart failure
  • Mechanical support of the failing heart prior to transplant or in lieu of transplant


  • Undergraduate: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Medical Education: Ross University School of Medicine

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Tags: Alumni , New York

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ALUMNI: These Two Grads Found Love on the Way to Their MDs

February 09, 2016

RUSM alumni Ixsy Ramirez and Jason Lester
RUSM Class of 2006 graduates Ixsy Ramirez (above, right) and Jason Lester (left) met while at medical school together. Now, they're married with two children!

In the spirit of Valentine's Day, two Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) alumni recently shared their romantic story. They met as medical students on the Dominica campus, dated, got engaged, graduated in 2006, went through the Couples Match, got married, and have lived happily ever after for the past almost 10 years.

Ixsy Ramirez, MD, a pediatric pulmonologist affiliated with University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers, and Jason Lester, MD, attending physician, Department of Emergency Medicine and Assistant Medical Director, Department of Emergency Medicine at Mercy St. Charles Hospital in Oregon, Ohio, are the proud parents of two children. They have returned to Dominica twice since completing their Basic Science studies; in May 2013 when she was the White Coat speaker, and in January 2016, when he gave the White Coat keynote address.

“We didn’t hit it off initially,” she recalled. But they were class presidents of their respective classes (he had started a semester before she did) and so they saw each other at Student Government Association activities. “We kept running into each other, talking. I think we grabbed dinner at one of the local restaurants,” she related. “It just happened.”

“The courtship was more historically traditional,” he said. “I’d pick her up, we’d go out to eat, and I’d walk her back to her apartment. The tropical island was a romantic setting.” They also spent time studying together.

Dr. Ramirez said that she went to medical school thinking that she was going to focus totally on her studies. “I didn’t want anything to get in the way,” she explained. Dr. Lester’s perspective was, “You have to live your life. There’s never a good time.”

Going through the Couples Match taught them a lot about compromising, they said. After all, they were interested in different fields, and were from different areas of the country; he was from Los Angeles and she was from Michigan. The process of applying for the Match, “opened up our communications,” she said. “We knew we’d be happy as long as we ended up somewhere together.”

Other Articles About Our Grads That You Might Like

RESIDENCIES: These Couples Got the Ultimate Match

Q&A: Jason Lester's Interesting Path to Practice

ALUMNI: Heart to Heart with Adam J. Waldman 

Tags: Alumni

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ALUMNI: Heart to Heart with Adam J. Waldman, MD, FACC

February 05, 2016

Adam J. Waldman, MD, FACC

Adam J. Waldman, MD, FACC

In recognition of American Heart Month, the “Heart to Heart” series was developed to provide an inside look into the career path of cardiologists who got their start at RUSM. Below Dr. Waldman, a proud husband and father of two boys, talks candidly about his experience.

RUSM: Why did you choose to attend Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM)?

People choose RUSM because it is a quality alternative for those who are qualified to get into a US medical school but weren’t accepted due to too few open seats.  Although the weather is warm, they don’t choose RUSM for the climate.

I can say RUSM made me a better person and physician because of some of the challenges I had to overcome. When I matriculated at RUSM more than 20 years ago, the campus didn’t have the technological advances and capital investments as they do today. At the time, I had to persevere through modest (at best) amenities and technology challenges. However, in the long run it paid off because it made me appreciative of the basic things that we are accustomed to in America. 

RUSM: When you began your clinical rotations, did you encounter misconceptions about the quality of your medical education?
WALDMAN: Although there is always some stigma associated with being a foreign trained medical student, some of it is self-inflicted.  I constantly wanted to prove that I was just as good as my peers and it made me work harder, and I put in more hours when doing clinical rotations so that I could rise a step above others.

Most people may not realize that foreign-trained physicians make up 35.5 percent of the physician workforce in Florida – the third largest state of international medical graduates in the nation*. That means, one in every three doctors in Florida have received their medical education outside of the United States.

RUSM: Why did you choose cardiology as your specialty?
WALDMAN: As an intern I was interested in hematology/oncology, pulmonary and critical care, and cardiology. I ended up choosing cardiology for a variety of reasons.  It lets me deal with acute problems, in addition to following patients with chronic conditions.  It also allows me to work with my hands and do procedures, something I enjoy. 

In cardiology, I get to see young and old patients and I have the opportunity to fix problems. When patients are extremely sick, I help them get better as part of a multidisciplinary team. I am able to see them get healthy and spend quality time with their families.
More on Adam J. Waldman, MD, FACC

Current Positions:

  • Chair, Orlando Regional Medical Center Congestive Heart Failure Program
  • Vice Chair, Orlando Regional Medical Department of Cardiology
  • Medical Director, Orlando Health Center Echocardiography Laboratory

Post-Graduate Training

  • Internal Medicine Residency, University of South Florida (USF)
  • Rotating Chief Medical Resident, James A. Haley VA Hospital
  • Chief Medical Resident, USF
  • Cardiology Fellowship, USF

Residency Awards

  • USF 2000-2001 Medical Jeopardy Team
  • Internal Medicine Resident of the Year, 2002
  • The Nathan L. Marcus Award, 2001-2002


  • Undergraduate Education: University of Florida
  • Medical Education: Ross University School of Medicine


Proud husband and father of two young boys

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Tags: Alumni , Florida

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THE CLINICAL YEARS: The Top 7 Skills Clinical Students Need to Succeed

February 04, 2016

Vijay Rajput, MD, professor and chairman of medicineDean and Chancellor Joseph A. Flaherty, MD
In a follow up to a popular blog Dean and Chancellor Joseph A. Flaherty, MD (left) chatted recently with Vijay Rajput, MD (right), Professor and Chairman of Medicine and Medical Director, Office for Student Professional Development, about tips to help students make the most of their medical school experience.

In our recent blog, The Top Seven Survival Skills Medical Students Need to Succeed, we focused on the Foundations of Medicine portion of the program.

But you'll need different strategies for success during the clinical years. So Dean Joseph A. Flaherty, MD, sat down with Vijay Rajput, MD, Chairman of Medicine and Medical Director for the Office for Student and Professional Development, to compile some tips to help you make the most of your clerkships.

Check out the tips below.

FLAHERTY: It’s important in the clinical years to learn to ask for and receive feedback, and accept it without being defensive. Use it and learn from it. It’s a really good trait and it doesn’t come naturally.

RAJPUT: Ask, “How am I doing?” “Are there things I should be doing differently?” Get regular feedback on your performance.

RAJPUT: You must continue to learn from your patients. Read about the diseases you see in your clerkships. Study more about them when you have down time during your calls and in between rounds. Go to your clinical conference, morning reports, and grand rounds.

FLAHERTY: Learn how to handle the fear of failure and how to cope with poor performance. These things will happen throughout your practice of medicine. Some days won’t be so good. You have to convert your thinking from competition to success. Understand that your learning and knowledge is to prepare yourself to become a good doctor, not to be competitive with other students.

RAJPUT: Dress and act professionally. If the pilot on your plane showed up in shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, you’d think twice. When you’re a doctor, think of yourself as a pilot. Do you tip the pilot? Do your job well and don’t expect rewards. Medicine is a high-level profession. Always take the high road. Even minor lapses in judgment can be detrimental to your career. Be aware of your image both inside and outside of the work environment.

FLAHERTY: Make the lives of your resident and attending easier. But do it without drawing attention to yourself. Be extra considerate. In clinical clerkships you have to try harder and go the extra mile for the people who are going to evaluate you.

RAJPUT: Make your resident and attending look good. Do more than you have to in order to make the patients feel more comfortable. Open the milk carton for an elderly patient when you are with your patient for clinical care.

RAJPUT: Understand that modern medicine is teamwork. Be a team player. You can’t practice medicine alone. In a clinic or on the floor, meet and greet everyone, and introduce yourself. Allow people to take credit for the work of the team. Use the word “we” rather than “I” when managing a patient with a team of residents and interns.

FLAHERTY: Make your first priority matching into any accredited residency program in the US.

RAJPUT: Have realistic expectations.

FLAHERTY: What counts are your grades and your track record. There are ways of predicting what specialty you can match into based on your USMLE® Step scores, and you have to take those predictions seriously. It’s crucial that you obtain a match on your first attempt. Every year that passes will make it more difficult.

RAJPUT: You should have a parallel plan, whether you’re going for orthopedics or surgery.

FLAHERTY: Some students have a go-for-broke attitude; the only type of doctor they want to be is a neurosurgeon, and if they can’t be that they’d rather be an accountant. We are obligated to encourage students to match into any residency. Apply for OB-GYN and also apply for family medicine, in only those family medicine programs that will train you in OB-GYN. Make sure you match. Period.

To recap, here are the top seven skills medical students need to succeed in the clinical years:

  1. Ask for and receive feedback.
  2. Continue to learn from your patients.
  3. Learn how to handle the fear of failure and how to cope with poor performance.
  4. Dress and act professionally.
  5. Make the lives of your resident and attending easier.
  6. Be a team player.
  7. Make your first priority matching into any accredited residency program in the US.

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Tags: Leadership , Clinical Program

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PROFILE: How RUSM Grad Lilian Sarfati Impressed on Day 1 of Residency (and Beyond)

February 02, 2016

There’s this story that Lilian Sarfati, MD (’12), likes to share about her first day of residency.

It’s June 2012 in sunny Florida. Sarfati, a freshly minted graduate of Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM), is starting her first-choice residency in family medicine at Jackson Memorial Hospital, the major teaching hospital of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine.

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.

But the stakes are still high. After all, it’s the first day of residency. You don’t want to mess this up.

“They threw us into this situation and they tell us ‘OK, just deal with it,’” Sarfati says.

So she thinks for a second, then jumps in, rallying her fellow residents. Okay, so how about you tackle this part of the exercise? she says to one. I’ll take over on this, and you guys can handle this part. “I was running mostly on intuition,” she remembers.

They complete the scenario, and after it ends, the coordinator pulls her aside. Asks her who she is, where she went to school.

“Lilian Sarfati,” she says. “I went to Ross University.”

“Wow,” the coordinator responds. “You impressed us. We thought you were from University of Miami.”

“Nope,” she told him, smiling. “Ross. And proud.”

And to think she almost didn’t get an opportunity to go to medical school at all. 

Click to continue reading.

Tags: Alumni , Residency

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