Ross University Blog

ALUMNI: Grad Goes from Olympics to Sports Medicine Fellowship in Canada

June 30, 2016

Keith Morgan, RUSM alumnus from CanadaSure, 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 Keith Morgan, MD, a 2013 graduate of Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM). Before enrolling in medical school, Morgan was a judoka—a term for someone who practices judo, a grappling-based martial art—who participated in four Olympic Games from 1996 to 2008. Not only that, he medaled four times in the Pan Am Games (gold, two silvers, and a bronze) and earned a gold medal in the 2008 Pan American Judo Championships.

Hear from alumni at our Toronto Ross Experience on Sep. 23. Read more and sign up here.

A pretty impressive athletic career, to be sure. 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 RUSM came in. And based on the sports medicine fellowship he’s starting this year at University of Ottawa, he’s well on his way to achieving his goals.

How Morgan Went from the Olympics to RUSM

After retiring from judo, Morgan ran into some friends in Saskatchewan, and one—a physician—mentioned that his son and daughter-in-law were both attending RUSM. After learning about the medical school’s accelerated curriculum, in which students can earn their Doctor of Medicine degree in under four years, Morgan figured he “might want to give it a shot.”

He hadn’t looked into medical schools for years. A graduate of McGill University (majoring in anatomy and cell biology), Morgan had tried applying to a few Canadian schools in 2004, but was denied based on his MCAT score. RUSM, which looks at candidates holistically rather than solely on MCAT scores and grade point averages, admitted Morgan in 2009.

It proved an easy transition. “I took the determination I needed as an athlete, and put it into medicine,” he said. “I’ve got to say I worked pretty hard, but I enjoyed my time [at RUSM]; and I enjoyed some of the stuff the island had to offer.”

Morgan went on to complete clinical rotations at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland in Pontiac, Michigan, later completing two elective rotations in his home country—one at Ottawa University, the other at Western University.

“As a Canadian student, you have to try and get electives in Canada,” he said. “I fought for those hard. I was told ‘no’ a couple of times, and I badgered them until I got them.” Networking with other Canadian physicians is a must if you want to go back to Canada for residency, he said.

From US Clinicals Back to Canada for Residency

After graduating, Morgan attained a residency at University of Ottawa through the Canada Resident Matching Service (CaRMS). Family medicine residencies in Canada last two years, with residents typically completing a fellowship during a third year. He selected family medicine, he said, for its versatility.

“It’s kind of the gateway to everything,” Morgan said. “We [family practitioners] do the majority of the medical care and refer out where we have to. It gives me the ability to do whatever I want.” Family practitioners from Canada can specialize in disciplines like obstetrics, palliative care, anesthesia, and sports medicine. That last one—sports medicine—was the perfect fusion of his personal athletic interests and his ultimate career goals as a physician.

His first two years of residency were challenging, he said. “At times, it can be overwhelming. You’re working a lot of hours—sometimes it’s 100 per week, and other times it’s 60,” he said. “But I feel like I was well prepared by Ross, and had confidence going in. In fact, I actually felt like I was better prepared than some of my colleagues from Canadian medical schools.”

After completing fellowship training, Morgan hopes to open a mixed practice—half family medicine, half sports medicine, with time spent moonlighting as a team physician for Canadian wresting and judo national teams as they compete in the Pan-American Judo Championships, Pan-American Games, and the Olympics.

“It would be sort of a win-win,” he said. “They like to have people who know the sports.”

Morgan offers three pieces of advice for current and potential RUSM students: don’t take no for an answer, believe in yourself, and work extremely hard.

“You have to be very tenacious, very above-and-beyond,” he said. “You’ve got to be a hard worker.”

Meet alumni at our Toronto Ross Experience on Sep. 23. Read more and sign up here.

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Tags: Residency , Alumni , Canada

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STUDENTS: Dantwan Smith Elected to the Student National Medical Association’s Board of Directors

June 28, 2016

RUSM student Dantwan Smith was elected National Secretary to the Student National Medical Association’s (SNMA) Board of Directors for his second consecutive term. The announcement was made during the 2016 SNMA Annual Medical Education Conference recently held in Austin. According to SNMA, the conference is the largest gathering of underrepresented minority medical students in the nation.

Smith was groomed for his current position as he was a 2014-2015 fellow for the SNMA Future Leadership Project (FLP). The fellowship is designed to recruit and mentor the next generation of SNMA leaders. Members who participate in the program have the opportunity to develop leadership skills, receive mentorship from SNMA leaders and engage in personal growth. The FLP curriculum includes attending lecture series given by physician leaders in medicine, group projects and mentorship by a national officer.

Smith, a native of Columbus, MS, is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., as well as an American Medical Student Association Health Equity Scholar. He aspires to be an anesthesiologist.

About SNMA

The SNMA works to increase the number of clinically excellent, culturally competent, and socially conscious physicians. Founded in 1964 by medical students from Howard University College of Medicine and Meharry Medical College, the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) is the nation’s oldest and largest, independent, student-run organization focused on the needs and concerns of medical students of color.  Organized with chapters across the nation, the SNMA membership includes over 7,000 medical students, pre-medical students and physicians.  SNMA is dedicated to increasing the number of African-American, Latino, and other students of color entering and completing medical school and to assisting in the eradication of racial and ethnic health disparities.  SNMA community service and mentoring programs provide science appreciation, health care education, mentoring, and academic enrichment to elementary, junior high school, high school and college students interested in pursuing health-related careers.

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MERP: Student Inspires through Blogging, Hits 26,000 Views (and Makes Dean’s List, Too)

June 28, 2016

Emma Cronk at the RUSM library

Emma Cronk at the RUSM library

“I average about 14 emails a week from prospective students,” says Emma Cronk. “And that’s not counting my Instagram messages!”

Is Emma Cronk an admissions counselor? No—she’s a fourth-semester student at Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM). But since the personal blog where she chronicles her medical school journey took off among prospective students, she’s found herself a go-to resource for medical school hopefuls asking about her RUSM experience, seeking advice and simply wanting to know more about her. As of June 2016, her blog had more than 26,000 views.

Cronk grew up in a small rural town called Parham in Ontario. 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—knowing she likely wouldn’t have time to keep up regular emails while immersed in microbiology. She chose the name “bigcronk” (she’s 6’4”) and gave it the pithy title “From D1 to DR” (she played Division I basketball during college).

It wasn’t long before she noticed that the number of views and comments on her posts was far surpassing the number of relatives she had. The sudden popularity came as a surprise, but a good one: She was glad to have an avenue to reach students.

“I write how I feel. I don’t hold back,” says Emma. “I preface that this is a blog that details all my emotions. And I think that’s why a lot of students relate to it and feel comfortable emailing me with questions about my experience.”

Why She’s a “Huge Advocate” for MERP

One of the most frequent questions Cronk receives centers around MERP, the 15-week program Cronk completed as a condition of her acceptance to RUSM, which provides additional academic preparation for medical school. Since completing MERP, Cronk has become a “huge advocate” for the program.

After graduating from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 2011, Cronk spent a few years traveling and working in Australia before applying to medical school. So she was glad to have the opportunity to get back into “school mode” and prepare for her M.D.

“I knew I needed that refresher in the sciences,” Cronk says. “And once I got to Ross, it was clear just how amazing of a foundation it gives you. Microbiology, anatomy, biochemistry—all of these subjects are going to be with you the rest of your career. MERP shouldn’t be the exception, it should be the norm.”

Her number one tip for MERP students?

“Treat MERP like it’s your first semester of medical school,” Cronk says. “That mentality is the best thing I did—it’s what helped me succeed.”

Now, four semesters into her time at Dominica, Cronk has earned a scholarship, made Dean’s List every semester, and started a brand-new club on campus for her passion, sports medicine.

“I’ve always pushed myself to never settle, whether in school, sports or being a physician, because life’s too short to be something I don’t want to be,” says Cronk.

And through it all, she still manages to find time to keep updating her blog with new experiences, insights and plenty of photos.

“I want to thank everyone who reads my blog for cheering me on,” Cronk says. “I feel like I have a cyber-family. The comments I get are amazing, and they help me get through times when I feel stressed. Medical school can be tough, but it is so worth it.”

To keep up with Emma Cronk’s journey, read her blog From D1 to DR and follow her on Instagram.

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COMMUNITY: RUSM Supports Construction Projects for Local Primary School

June 27, 2016

The recently constructed kitchen and dining room for Savanne Paille Primary School.

The recently constructed kitchen and dining room for Savanne Paille Primary School.

A new kitchen and dining room for Savanne Paille Primary School

A donation by Ross University School of Medicine and DeVry Medical International to the Savanne Paille Primary School in Dominica was instrumental in enabling the construction of a dining room and kitchen for the students. The project was co-sponsored by the Dominica Ministry of Education, and supported by the PTA and a host of volunteers. RUSM Campus Dean Stanley White, PhD, cut the ribbon on the new facility at a festive event on Monday, attended by dignitaries, well-wishers, RUSM colleagues, parents, teachers, and the 43 children in grades K-6. Dominica’s Minister of Education and Human Resource Development Hon. Petter St. Jean was in attendance, together with several members of his department. Also on the agenda was Hon. Reginald Austrie, parliamentary representative for the area.

“We strive to be good corporate citizens, and to give back to the community in which our university has been made to feel at home. We continue to support organizations devoted to education, sports, cultural programs and humanitarian efforts throughout the island,” said RUSM’s Dean and Chancellor Joseph Flaherty, MD.

“Ross University School of Medicine has had a special partnership with this island and its people,” Dr. White said. He thanked Executive Administrator Ryan Didier and Director of Finance Laurel Peterson for their involvement in making the project become a reality. Dr. White had the honor of cutting the ribbon on the new facility.

Minister of Education and Human Resource Development Hon. Petter St. Jean said that, “With this new environment we’ll see our students being strong and healthy and that will be reflected in their academic performance.”

RUSM has had a long and continuing history of community involvement and outreach in Dominica, supporting organizations devoted to education, sports, cultural programs and humanitarian efforts throughout the island.

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SCHOLARSHIP: This Student Found Success Researching and Fighting Malaria. Here’s Why He Wanted More.

June 20, 2016

Bharath Balu has completed a Ph.D. and two post-doctoral fellowships, led an antimalarial drug discovery team as a research scientist, authored 22 research publications and secured a U.S. government patent for an anti-malaria technique. He’s earned degrees from or been employed at six higher education institutions. And yet, despite these outstanding accomplishments, Balu felt something was missing.

That something was an M.D. And that’s what led him to his seventh school affiliation: Ross University School of Medicine, where he enrolled this May with a Chancellor’s Academic Achievement scholarship.

We caught up with Balu to learn more about his unique background and what he hopes to accomplish as a physician.

RUSM: How did you become interested in malaria?

Balu: Growing up in India, I had malaria three times. It’s endemic in India, but it can be hard for people outside of tropical areas to appreciate how serious these diseases can be. It’s estimated that more than 300,000 children died of malaria in 2015. 

I was fortunate to have survived, but it takes a toll on you regardless. You lose 10-20 pounds within days, you become very weak, and it takes time to recover and continue a normal life.

Malaria is also very interesting scientifically. It’s a difficult disease to study, and I wanted a challenge. The malaria parasite is complicated because it changes form and completes the life cycle in two hosts—the mosquito and the human.

RUSM: You’ve come to RUSM with four degrees under your belt, not to mention an enormous amount of research experience. Can you describe your path?

Balu: I earned my bachelor’s degree in microbiology. I’ve been fascinated by microbes since high school. They’re devastating as infectious agents, but they’re also priceless tools for innovation, and provide the gateway for genetic engineering.

After completing my postgraduate degree in medical biotechnology, I was fortunate to get accepted to the University of Notre Dame Ph.D. program in infectious disease, which was renowned for malaria drug and vaccine research. That was where I and a few colleagues developed a method to manipulate the malaria parasite genome, which was patented.

RUSM: Tell us about this patent.

Balu: It’s an insertional mutagenesis technique to mutate the human malaria parasite. Essentially, it’s a way of transforming the genome to weaken the parasite and elicit information that can be used for drug or vaccine development. Many scientists had tried before, but had not succeeded.

RUSM: That’s quite an accomplishment.

Balu: It was very fulfilling. The process took about six years, with lots of hard work and persistence, and our work became well known in the malaria research community. But I didn’t feel like I was making a direct impact on human welfare. This invention is really a starting place to develop drugs and ways to inhibit the disease, all the way up to the pharmaceutical company to get it out to market. At that point, it’s very much out of my hands.

RUSM: Did you experience this same kind of frustration with your other research endeavors—feeling like you weren’t doing enough?

Balu: I really enjoyed the intellectual aspect of research as it’s directed towards helping others. But with science, it takes decades to make an impact on people. After my doctorate, I spent several years in research, and there were always roadblocks to the end result of helping people: competition for funding, logistics of long clinical trials, and the lack of public infrastructure in the tropical world to afford novel therapies. So I wanted to try clinical work in the hopes that it would be more satisfying.

RUSM: How did you go about finding clinical work?

Balu: I became a physician assistant, and I loved it. The patient interaction, going to work every day and really impacting people’s lives—it was such a huge difference for me. In science, I barely had any public interaction, but now patients were thanking me for the way I took care of them.

Still, I wanted a much deeper medical knowledge, and to become proficient in infectious disease medicine. And having had years of scientific research experience, I do miss that. I want to become a doctor so I can care for patients and do clinical research—have both the human interaction and the science. I would also love to teach and spread the knowledge.

RUSM: What made you choose RUSM?

Balu: I did well on my MCAT and applied to U.S. medical schools, but I didn’t get in. I was many years out of school and U.S. medical schools asked me to go back to school to finish the prerequisites again. So it seemed I had two choices: wait another year, reapply and hope I got in somewhere, or find a school that would appreciate my background and qualifications, and give me a chance to be an M.D. And I found that in Ross.

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ALUMNI: RUSM Grad Practices AND Chairs Dept. of Medicine. It’s the Best of Both Worlds.

June 20, 2016

Vincent Armenio, MD, RUSM Class of 1986, is the Chairman of Medicine at Roger Williams Medical Center in Providence, RI.

Vincent Armenio, MD, RUSM Class of 1986, is the Chairman of Medicine at Roger Williams Medical Center in Providence, RI.

Vincent Armenio, Chairman of the Department of Medicine at Roger Williams Medical Center (RWMC) in Rhode Island, is a pretty busy guy—but you wouldn’t know that by talking to him. The 1986 Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) graduate speaks almost casually about his typical work week, which includes packed days alternately treating patients, holding administrative meetings with department heads, and fielding emergency calls from RWMC.

That’s in addition to countless other responsibilities. As chairman, Armenio’s in charge of all of the disciplines under RWMC’s departmental umbrella, including cardiology, gastroenterology, infectious diseases, and others. He regularly meets with division heads, determines their needs, and works to address them.

And all the while, he’s keeping an eye on the broader healthcare landscape in his community, identifying healthcare gaps and adopting strategic plans to fill them. For example, he’s working to establish both a Gastrointestinal Center of Excellence and a Diabetic Center for the area RWMC serves; both initiatives would fill a definitive healthcare need in surrounding neighborhoods.

It’s a big job. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Best of Both Worlds

“I’m in charge of a department but I still get to practice medicine,” says Armenio, a hematologist/oncologist. “I get the best of both worlds.”

It’s important, he says, to touch both of these worlds—the administrative side because it’s part of his responsibilities as Chairman of Medicine, and the practice-based side because it puts him into the shoes of the physicians he supports as chairman. Doing that, he contends, allows him to better serve hospital division directors and meet their needs.

“I don’t live in an ivory tower,” he jokes. “I have to know what our physicians are going through to help address the needs of what they want in a hospital or program.”

His RUSM Experience in the School’s Early Years

Armenio started at RUSM in its formative years, enrolling in 1982. He began straight out of college. He was told—when inquiring about other medical schools—that to succeed as a candidate, it would probably be best to complete two years of postgraduate education.

But he didn’t want to wait.

“I said to myself, the curriculum is exactly the same as American medical schools,” he recalls. So he enrolled, and in his eyes, attending RUSM made him a better physician.

“I thought my education there was excellent,” Armenio says.

It was an interesting time. In 1982, early in RUSM’s life, Dr. Armenio stayed in spartan housing, and would walk down a forested path to get to campus. Sometimes, he laughs, he and his classmates would be greeted by a bull or a cow, tethered up and munching on foliage. It was a far cry from how the campus—which now has a Simulation Center, technologically advanced anatomy labs, and high-tech medical education tools—exists today, in 2016.

Despite the school’s humble beginnings, Armenio got what he needed at RUSM. For example, clinical rotations—which, these days, take place at RUSM-affiliated US teaching hospitals—actually took place on the island of St. Kitts, and Armenio ended up learning medicine in a very hands-on way.

“We were given leeway,” he says. “We were taught something, and then we did it.” On call in the emergency room at St. Kitts, Armenio recalls, is where he first learned to stitch wounds. “They told me if you want to learn to sew, be there on Friday and Saturday nights,” he says. That’s when most of the injuries tended to come in, he says.

 “Ross Gives You a Chance”

On occasion, while on the job at RWMC, Armenio comes into contact with RUSM graduates undergoing residency at his hospital.

“They’re very well-trained, extremely smart, and very personable,” says Armenio of the RUSM graduates he’s met. “The thing I noticed is that they’re constantly challenging themselves, that they always want to do better,” he says. “And they love to ask me about war stories from the old Ross [University School of Medicine].”

To prospective RUSM students, Armenio has one thing to say: if you want to be a physician more than anything, RUSM is your opportunity.

“Ross gives you a chance that, maybe, someone else wouldn’t give you,” he says. “You didn’t go to Harvard, but that humbles you—humbled in a way that you try to be better than everyone else. You’re making a name for yourself with your hard work, your dedication. Once you get that chance, you need to run with it, and you need to be the best physician you can be.”

Given his responsibilities at RWMC and the impact he has had in Rhode Island, Armenio is certainly doing just that.

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MERP: Student Closer to Dream of Providing Care in Underserved Communities

June 09, 2016

While growing up in Baltimore, Maryland, Ozioma Nwaigwe was close with her extended family. But something odd started happening—or so it seemed. All Nwaigwe understood as a young child was that three of her aunts started moving away, one by one, only returning after years of absence.

It wasn’t until later on that she learned what was really going on. Her aunts had gone to Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) on the island of Dominica to become doctors—specializing in cardiac electrophysiology, infectious disease and neonatology, respectively.

Now, Nwaigwe is following in their footsteps at RUSM, currently completing clinical rotations at Florida University Hospital in Tamarac.

“From talking with my aunts, I knew RUSM was a great choice,” she says. “They said Ross prepared them and they couldn’t imagine having had a better education.”

Nwaigwe’s aunts weren’t the only influence on her interest in medicine. Her mom was a nurse, and Nwaigwe volunteered in a hospital during middle school. In addition, her family roots played a role in showing her the importance of health care.

“I was born in America, but my parents are from Nigeria,” she says. “I remember going back to Nigeria and seeing the dire need for doctors, nurses, and health care practitioners in general.”

Paving the Way for Success

Nwaigwe was accepted to RUSM on the condition that she successfully complete the Medical Education Readiness Program (MERP) beforehand.

“First I was disappointed that I was recommended for MERP, but looking back, I’m really happy I did it,” Nwaigwe says. “If it wasn’t for this program, I wouldn’t have had the GPA that I had, or been on the dean’s list.”

She explains, “One of the key benefits of MERP is that it helps you figure out your learning style. There’s so much personal attention, which helps you understand what your hang-ups are and how to improve them. MERP taught me that it’s okay to go to an instructor’s office and ask for help if I’m struggling.”

Ozioma Nwaigwe with Dr. Elfa Shabashvili, assistant professor of anatomy and histology at MERP

One example of how Nwaigwe benefited from the individualized attention was getting help with test-taking. She had a habit of frequently changing her answers during exams—but didn’t realize how often they were correct in the first place.

“My professor watched the way I answered questions and helped me figure out that changing my answers was doing more harm than good,” Nwaigwe says. “She taught me to rank each one 1, 2, or 3—1 if I was really sure that it was correct, to 3 if I wasn’t sure at all. So if I went back over the test, I might change the ones I marked 3 but I wouldn’t touch the 1’s and I’d try to avoid changing the 2’s.”

Besides learning not to second-guess herself, Nwaigwe also credits the program with teaching her how to work efficiently in groups, and helping her discover the best study habits for her.

“I’ve learned that I am someone who has to be totally engaged in lecture. I need to sit there, turn off my phone and pay attention,” she says. “Then after class, I go home, reread everything and rewrite my notes using a million different colored pens.”

All in all, MERP helps you find what works for you, Nwaigwe says.

Her advice for MERP students: “When you go, remember you’re there for a purpose,” she says. “You do have to put in a lot of hours. But it’s all so you can eventually become a physician and care for patients well.” 

Building Healthier Communities

Between her visits to Nigeria and having grown up around underserved communities in Baltimore, Nwaigwe is passionate about giving back and ensuring access to quality care for all. While completing her bachelor’s degree in public health, she conducted smoking cessation programs, taught children CPR, and did health screenings at nursing homes. She wants to combine these kinds of experiences with her medical training to help promote community wellness.

“I see myself going to health fairs on my off days and offering free blood pressure screenings, educating people on health and teaching them how to take care of themselves and their families,” Nwaigwe says.

And in the meantime, if she ever needs a reminder of the opportunities that are possible through hard work and persistence, all she has to do is look to her three aunts.

“People may think it matters where you go to school,” Nwaigwe says, “but what matters is the education you receive and the person you are.”

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CAMPUS: What Do Current Students Like Most About the Dominica Campus?

June 07, 2016

What do RUSM students like best about the Dominica campus? We posed the question to random individuals seated in the Student Center food court.  Here are some of their responses:

George Abuaita, a second semester student, said, “It’s nice to hang out right here [in the Student Center food court] and de-stress. There’s a TV on a sports channel, and food everywhere. I can get away from the books, even if only for 10 or 15 minutes.” George earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan and has been a member of the Salybia Mission Club since his first semester at RUSM.

Jasmine Bajwa, a first semester student who graduated from the University of California at Riverside, said she and her friends like to go to the pier by Le Flambeau to watch the sunset. “I found my niche and figured out where I’m most comfortable studying,” she added. “The old library, we call it the ‘fishbowl.’ There’s no socializing and no distractions.”

Samuel Adepogu, from Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama, is in his first semester at RUSM. “I like the Student Center cafeteria,” he said. He was enjoying a breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes and eggs, and said that he eats other meals there as well. Samuel is a member of several clubs, including the Organization of African Students, the Salybia Mission Project, the neuroscience club, and the American Medical Students’ Association.

Gemstonn Alegre earned his undergraduate degree at Hunter College in NY. The second semester student said, “I like to go to the Seaside Deck when I’m feeling a little bit overwhelmed and need a time-out. I just go there and watch the awesome sunset.” He said that during his first semester he moved around from one study space to another. “I moved from the Student Center to a classroom to the Seaside Deck.” Now he studies in the old library. “It’s called the fishbowl because of the windows,” he said. “It’s the most stable spot.”

Current Students: What Do You Like Best About Dominica?

Do you have a favorite spot on (or off) campus? Send us an email. We'd love to hear it.

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MATCH: Alum Recounts Steps to Beginning Dream Career in Radiology

June 03, 2016

Soon to begin the Diagnostic Radiology Residency Program at Geisinger Health System in Dansville, PA., RUSM graduate, Jeffrey Ortiz, recalls his pathway to becoming a physician.
“I was an X-ray tech before starting Ross,” says Ortiz. “I knew right away I wanted to attend medical school to become a radiologist. Finally, I’m here.”

Ortiz attributes his decision to attend RUSM to a serendipitous meeting with a friend he reconnected with at a social engagement.

Tweet: Ignore the naysayers! Words of wisdom by #RUSM alum who is set to begin radiology residency. @RossMedSchool

“My friend shared his experience at Ross and from then on I began to learn more about the institution while completing my undergraduate degree,” said Ortiz. “Then fast forward a bit, I applied and got accepted. I’m forever grateful to Ross.”

“From the beginning of medical school, we’re told it is hard to match and you have to work hard. For four years, you have that going through your mind,” said Ortiz. “Now, I’m finally here. It’s a dream come true. It’s surreal.”

Ortiz’s advice to aspiring physicians: Ignore the naysayers.

“There are naysayers along the way,” said Ortiz. “Anyone can do it. You just have to work hard, put your mind to it and get through it.”

The Elizabeth, NJ native plans to hone his skills in interventional radiology, allowing him to maintain patient care.


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RELAY FOR LIFE: RUSM Supports the Fight Against Cancer

June 02, 2016

This spring, thousands of college students chose to spend part of their weekend a little differently from the norm.

Rather than going out with friends or relaxing, the end of the weekly grind found them walking a track or circling a gymnasium in shifts over a 12-hour span. Buoyed by pulsing music and moving speeches, they were united by a common purpose: supporting the fight against cancer.

Top: Shafon McNeil, admissions advisor at RUSM, is ready to greet participants at the Rider University Relay for Life event. Bottom: It’s a full house at Rider Relay for Life.

Ross University School of Medicine was proud to be a sponsor for several recent Relay for Life events at New Jersey college campuses. The American Cancer Society Relay for Life movement brings together communities to celebrate people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and take action to finish the fight. During these overnight fundraising walks, teams of people camp out around a track and take turns walking around it through the night to symbolize the reality that “cancer never sleeps.”

A Growing Partnership

RUSM sponsored Relay for Life events at the College of New Jersey, Rider University, Rowan University, and Stockton University, where RUSM representatives engaged with students and participants and answered questions about medical school.

Kevin Niessen, senior graduate admissions advisor at RUSM, at the Stockton University Relay for Life.

These sponsorships represent a further extension of RUSM’s relationship with the American Cancer Society (ACS). Previously, RUSM has joined ACS in the pledge to fight colorectal cancer, and supported the annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in October 2015 as a corporate sponsor.

The fundraising efforts from these four college events totaled more than $200,000 for the American Cancer Society —demonstrating the commitment and dedication of everyone involved, including participants, staff and sponsors.1 The funds raised will go to cancer research and support programs for cancer patients, including accommodations and transportation to and from treatment. 



1 Relay For Life of The College of New Jersey; Relay For Life of Rider University; Relay For Life of Rowan University; Relay For Life of Stockton University

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