Ross University Blog

ALUMNI: Ross Grad Steven Angus on Residency, Recruitment, and Relying on Your Instincts

January 31, 2017

We all face big decisions in life—and for a medical school student nearing graduation, the hunt for that perfect residency program is pretty high up there on the list.

So here’s a tip from someone who’s actually sat on the recruitment side. Steve Angus (Ross Class of 1997) has interviewed more than 5,000 prospective residents for entry to the internal medicine program at UConn Health in Farmington, CT, and he tells them all the same thing: Trust your instincts. When you find the program that’s right for you, you’ll know it.

“I still remind medical students who I interview today—though you’ll undoubtedly have an Excel spreadsheet with the programs you’re looking at, and you’ll be making this a very cerebral decision—that it’s ultimately more of a gut feeling,” says Angus, who was recently named the designated institutional official (DIO) at UConn. “You go from place to place, meeting different people, seeing how the residents interact with patients and staff, and you develop an instinct.”

That instinct, that gut feeling, is a major part of what helps you predict where you’ll fit in the best.

“I tell all of my applicants that they’ll know where they want to be, and no one’s told me that I’ve been wrong yet,” he said, laughing.

The Proverbial Lightbulb

Falling into the role of a mentor, an advisor, comes naturally to Angus. For the last several years of his professional life, Angus has worn two hats: one when he’s actively seeing and treating patients, and the other when he’s coaching and mentoring residents as director of UConn’s internal medicine program. He’s swapped that second hat for the DIO position, in which he’s charged with having “oversight of all of the residencies and fellowships across the UConn system.” That’s more than 50 training programs and roughly 650 trainees, and it’s his job to ensure those programs are maintaining and upholding accreditation standards set by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

He enjoys it all. But ask him to choose what gives him the most gratification on a personal level, and he’ll probably pick teaching or mentoring every time.

“Certainly, taking care of patients and making them better is a wonderful feeling,” said Angus, “but showing others how to do that—and being present when the proverbial lightbulb goes off for them when they put the pieces together—is something that I find incredibly rewarding.”

On Residency: Tiring, But Immensely Rewarding

It’s probably fitting that Angus discovered his love for teaching during his internal medicine residency, which he completed at University of Connecticut School of Medicine. As a chief resident, he spent most of that final year developing teaching skills and assisting junior residents. Contrast that with his earlier residency years: those were spent learning how to navigate the world after medical school.

Challenging, to be sure, but also completely worth it.

“I don’t think you can be fully prepared for your internship—it’s a tremendous learning experience,” he said. “The hours are sometimes grueling. Tiring, no doubt. But rewarding? Absolutely. This is where you grow as a physician. This is where you learn.”

He earned the residency program director spot in 2005, less than a decade after completing his own training. “It wasn’t all that long ago, but it feels like forever now,” he said. Angus never forgot his roots—UConn, he says, has an “outstanding” track record with inviting graduates of Ross and other Caribbean medical schools to train there. As an added bonus, he enjoys swapping stories with other Ross graduates—and often reminds them their medical and clinical training is all the preparation they’ll need to thrive in residency.

A Familiar Story

How did Ross come up as an option, anyway? His story, Angus says, probably isn’t all that different from students and graduates who take the Caribbean medical school route. He applied to medical schools in the US, was waitlisted (to this day, he never got a firm answer as to why, but he guesses it was due at least in part to supply and demand) and was faced with a crossroads: should he wait to see if his name came off one of those waitlists, or get started on his medical education using the options available to him?

Talking to a Ross student cemented it for him. Angus knew a local physician who had a daughter at Ross—the two got in touch. “I called down to the island, spoke with her, and she told me what a great experience she was having,” he said. “It was talking to people who were there, and had been there, that made me realize that you can get where you want to go through Ross.”

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SCHOLARSHIPS: It's Only Been a Month, but Ross Is Already Her Community

January 30, 2017

Martina Tripcovici, recipient of the Community Health Leadership Award, at the White Coat Ceremony

Martina Tripcovici, recipient of the Community Health Leadership Award, at the White Coat Ceremony

When Martina Tripcovici was young, she imagined herself in all the usual far-flung careers, such as an astronaut, doctor or lawyer. Meanwhile, her parents, a business owner and company director, planted the seed of going into business. But as it turned out, only one of those professions would stick with Martina—and deepen into her life’s calling.

Growing up, Martina had a natural curiosity about the world and people around her. Captivated by her science classes in school, she would read up on concepts that piqued her interest. In particular, she found herself fascinated by the human body and disease. When friends came to her with their health and medical questions, from “I don’t know why my foot hurts…” to “My mom has a headache that won’t go away…” Martina was happy to look it up.

It didn’t take long for her to realize that maybe being a doctor wasn’t just a childhood dream.

Fast-forward a few years, and this Quebec native is on her way to making that dream a reality. Martina is the recipient of a Community Health Leadership Award, a scholarship that recognizes students who have made significant contributions to their communities through volunteer work or research.

“Pursuing my MD at Ross complements my drive to always be the best at what I do,” said Martina. “I want to push myself out of my comfort zone and be in an environment where I know I will thrive in becoming a physician.”

The Road to Medical School

Martina’s ambition flourished during college at New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, where she earned a full athletic scholarship as an NCAA Division I tennis player. Amid a demanding tennis schedule, she pursed a bachelor’s degree in chemistry with a minor in environmental science—and earned Dean’s List honors throughout her college career. In addition, she shadowed a local orthopedic surgeon in Livingston, N.J., and spent a summer volunteering at Pierre-Le Gardeur Hospital in her hometown of Terrebonne, Quebec.

After graduating from NJIT, she decided to further strengthen her clinical experience by taking on a research assistant position at Sainte-Justine Hospital in Montreal. Here, she had the opportunity to work closely with physicians on inflammable colon diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, in pediatric patients.

“I was able to interact with everyone there—patients, doctors, parents,” Martina said of her experience at Sainte-Justine. “I completely fell in love with it.”

Her passion for medicine confirmed, Martina began the application process for medical school. But her options were limited.

Most of the medical schools in Martina’s native Quebec conduct their curricula in French. While Martina spoke French very well, she had just spent her undergraduate years in New Jersey, learning the sciences in English. Attending a French-speaking medical school would mean having to translate her foundational knowledge—four years of complex, scientific education—just to get on a level playing field.  

In addition, medical schools in other Canadian provinces (that teach in in English) were extremely competitive. As Martina had completed her bachelor’s degree in the U.S., she would be considered an international applicant—making it even more difficult for her to gain admission.  

That’s when Martina began looking into Caribbean medical schools, where some of her friends had enrolled. One thing that drew her to Ross was the organ systems-based curriculum that organizes the teaching of medicine by systems within the body, like the digestive or respiratory systems. This approach, which mirrors how medicine is actually practiced, gives you a big-picture look at the physiological, anatomical, and biochemical processes of an organ system all at once.

“Ross was one of the only schools that had a systems-based curriculum, and the class size was smaller than some other schools,” said Martina.

Finding a Home

Having arrived at Dominica several weeks ago, Martina is taking advantage of all that Ross has to offer. “The simulation center and anatomy lab are amazing,” Martina said. “You can do dissections; you can see everything. Many of my friends that are in medical school do not have the opportunity to dissect or even go into a simulation center this early, which restricts hands-on learning.”

And beyond the academics, Martina has found a home in the Ross community.

“There’s a great little community here,” she said. “We’re not a huge class, and everyone is super friendly. You’re all in the same boat. I got here on the 29th of December at 11 p.m., and by the 30th, I had met people who I think are going to be my best friends.”

Her advice for pre-med students? “Think about how you are as a person, and look for a school that you can relate to,” she said. “I’m a people person—I like to get to know my classmates and be part of a community. Ross has been an amazing experience for me.”

Have questions for Martina about her Ross experience? She encourages students considering Ross to reach out to her with any questions you may have. You can email her at

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SCHOLARSHIPS: Grant Campbell is Focused on the Road Ahead

January 26, 2017

“It automatically felt like this is what I’m going to do with my life – whatever it takes,” said Grant Campbell reflecting on the shadowing opportunity he had last summer in the Operating Room department at University Medical Center (UMC) in Texas.

Motivated to turn his desire to become a doctor into a reality, Campbell is now three weeks into his journey to physicianhood as a first-semester student at Ross. He also is the recipient of two financial scholarships - the Dean’s Scholar and the Community Health Leadership Awards.

“Growing up, I always knew I wanted to make a big impact on the community, but I didn’t know how,” said Campbell.

Campbell attributes his sense of community to his father who is a family physician. His father would take him on hospital rounds and expose Campbell to what he perceived as a gratifying life.

“The decision to go to Ross was the biggest, but the easiest. And, now that I’m here, it’s awesome.”

“My father is my hero - the best person I know. I wanted to do something good with my life and have a significant and meaningful effect on people like my father has,” said Campbell. “However, I somewhat pushed medicine aside. I didn’t want to get a medical degree just for the sake of following in my father’s footsteps.”

However, it was the shadowing experience that gave Campbell the clarity and confirmation he needed to make the commitment to get a medical degree. “I realized that getting a MD would give me the knowledge and skills that would allow me to reach my potential to do the most good.”

In addition to having his “aha” moment about following a career in medicine, Campbell first learned about Ross at UMC. A physician he shadowed encouraged Campbell to consider the university. Also, a Ross alumnus gave a memorable lecture on abdominal surgical technique that resonated with Campbell.

Though, Campbell acknowledged his decision to attend Ross was in part due to the mentor relationship that developed between him and Norma Serrano, graduate admissions advisor at the university. “She really was a factor in choosing Ross,” said Campbell. “I knew if she was indicative of the quality at Ross, then I would be in good hands.”

“The decision to go to Ross was the biggest, but the easiest,” continued Campbell. “And, now that I’m here, it’s awesome.”

According to Campbell, he likes the seclusion of being on an island, without the distractions to divert him from his studies. “Most people dread studying all day, but I love it,” said Campbell. “I know that it’s helping me get closer to helping people.”

Campbell is a graduate of California State University – Sacramento and received a post-baccalaureate degree from Southern California University of Health Sciences. He has future aspirations of joining the US military after his residency training.



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ALUMNI: How Priti Kothari Saw a Healthcare Need—and Filled It

January 24, 2017

Priti Kothari, Ross Class of 2000
Ross graduate Priti Kothari ('00)

It’s a pretty common sight at most hospitals—patients’ beds festooned with get-well balloons, relatives dropping by to sit at their bedsides, loved ones delivering chocolates and concerns to individuals in recovery. Priti Kothari, MD saw a lot of that during her internal medicine and surgery clinical rotations at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Queens, NY.

But then she started her psychiatry rotation at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Queens, NY, and she didn’t see much of that at all. No gifts, no teddy bears, no visitors. Some patients in psychiatric care had outlived their relatives, and had no one to come visit them. Others may have shown aggressive or hostile behavior, causing trauma to the family system and driving loved ones away.

“I started to realize how lonely these patients were, how they needed time and attention, and how this system just wasn’t easy for them,” said Kothari, a 2000 Ross graduate.

Originally, Kothari had been considering pediatrics. But she’d found a new passion.

On Developing Her Own Practice

Kothari’s experience isn’t unusual—many medical school students figure out what they want to do during their clinical rotations. Her mind was set: after wrapping up her clinical rotations, Kothari completed an adult psychiatry residency at University of Maryland/Sheppard Pratt Hospital, followed by a fellowship at Johns Hopkins Hospital in child adolescent psychiatry.

Then she was off to work, and that part was a little unusual. Typically, most medical school graduates in her specialty start off by joining a hospital group, but Kothari’s husband was starting his own fellowship in Florida, so the two moved there from Baltimore. After the move, Kothari immediately started establishing herself.

“I came straight out of my fellowship into a solo practice, and I found my groove quickly,” she said.  That’s in part because there’s what she called a “tremendous need” for child psychiatrists—but in the end, it was her own hard work that got her established as a practicing psychiatrist. She networked. She handed out business cards. She marketed herself. And she put in a concerted effort not to just be a doctor in Florida, but a doctor who is serving Florida.

“I walked around, handed out my business cards, kept marketing and kept moving, but I always made an effort to be connected to the community I worked in,” she said. “I did a lot of work with OCD groups, Tourette’s groups, and others—I spoke, I advocated, and somehow through all of that, I developed a practice.”

If It Weren’t for Ross…

She believes establishing her own practice was really all about being assertive, being able to handle herself independently without training wheels. Ross helped her become that person, she said.

“I would not have the confidence to start a practice of my own, make judgment calls and decisions on my feet, learn how to sign myself up for different insurance programs, or do all of my administrative work on my own if it weren’t for Ross,” she said.

Ross was a good fit—for her, the campus environment was conducive to learning, and she had the support of both institutional faculty and her fellow students.

“It built my confidence—it’s a beautiful learning environment, and there aren’t a ton of distractors,” she said. I had wonderful friends, good faculty, and it was a healthy environment for me to study and focus.”

Now, she’s giving back to her alma mater. Kothari mentors third-year Ross students during clinicals and is helping a fourth-year student explore possibilities for residency.

“I think that’s part of your duty as a Ross grad,” she said.

Kothari treats adults and children in Boca Raton. Learn more about Kothari and her practice at

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SCHOLARSHIPS: Ross Student Driven by His Noble Intentions, Inspired by His Sister

January 23, 2017

“Since I was five, I have been fascinated by the human body,” said Burhan Butt, who just received the Dean’s Scholar Award and Opportunity Scholarship to begin his medical education at Ross.

Butt is a recent graduate from the University of Toronto where he received an honors degree with distinction in biology.

Discovering His Passion for Medicine

Perhaps, what established his pursuit of medicine was his trip to Pakistan to visit family. At the age of nine, Butt was influenced by his uncles who were physicians. He observed firsthand their knack for treating their patients’ medical conditions while maintaining meaningful connections with them.

“One of my uncles who was a family physician really sparked my interest in medicine as I observed him interacting with patients every day,” said Butt. “Witnessing his ability to understand the human body as well as being able to relate to people with different personalities and experiences initiated a life-long passion for medicine.” 

“I want to get a medical degree so that I can use my skills and experience to make healthcare much more accessible to everyone.”

Inspired by His Sister's Success

Now as a young adult, one of Butt’s biggest inspirations to become a physician is his older sister, Ifrah, who is currently completing her last semester at Ross in a clinical clerkship at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland in Michigan. “Her experiences in clinical settings and her daily schedule confirms I made the right decision going to medical school,” said Butt.

Aspiring to Make a Difference 

Butt aspires to volunteer with Doctors Without Borders and hopes to use his language skills to reduce barriers to healthcare – he is fluent in English, Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi.

“I want to get a medical degree so that I can use my skills and experience to make healthcare much more accessible to everyone,” said Butt. “I want to treat people for an affordable cost.”

He goes on, “I believe healthcare should be a right, not a privilege.”


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ALUMNI: Checking Up on Two Rossies a Year After They Opened Their Practice

January 20, 2017

Narbeh Tovmassian, MD and Garen Derhartunian, MD, RUSM grads
2012 Ross graduates Garen Derhartunian, MD (above, from left) and Narbeh Tovmassian, MD have been operating their own practice for just over a year in Glendale, CA.

In November 2015, Narbeh Tovmassian and Garen Derhartunian—lifelong friends who attended Ross together, graduating in 2012—opened Elevate Health Group in their hometown of Glendale, CA, plunging into the uncharted territory of owning, operating, and administrating a brand-new primary care practice. The seeds of this idea sprouted almost by happenstance when Narbeh and Garen, both in their second years of residency, were on the phone chatting about which specialties they planned to pursue after residency training.

“Narbeh wanted to do cardiology, and I wanted to do pulmonary critical care,” Garen recalls. “So we got on the phone and were discussing it, and we just came to the realization that we should do primary care together.”

They didn’t make that decision without some reservations, though. “People are scared to go into private practice,” said Narbeh. “There’s financial risk, and a lot of unknowns—we experienced that same fear when we started. But we stuck through it.”

Good thing they did. Because business is booming.

How They Elevated Patient Care in Glendale

In Elevate’s early goings in late 2015, things looked a little bleak. “We were barely seeing any patients in the clinic at first, and financially we took a big hit,” Garen said. “But we kept pushing.”

It’s something of a cliché, perhaps, but what a difference a year makes. Now, the doctors see upwards of 15-20 patients per day at their clinic, plus an additional 15 patients at the three hospitals with which they’re associated. Peruse Elevate’s entry on Yelp and you’ll see glowing review after glowing review.

What’s the secret to their growing success? It’s simple: the pair puts patients first.

“The entire philosophy for starting our practice was customer service,” Narbeh said. “All across the country, patients go to the doctor, sit in the waiting room, fill out a bunch of paperwork—then they wait a little longer. In some cases, patients are double- or triple-booked just so a practice can stay afloat.”

Narbeh and Garen upend that perception. No one waits for more than 15 minutes in their waiting room, and each patient gets his or her own 30-minute slot. “Everyone gets our undivided attention, and we’re very thorough,” Narbeh said. Their reputation has grown so much that patients come from cities outside Glendale to receive care.

Giving Back to Their Community

Glendale is one of the largest cities in Los Angeles County, and the doctors are very focused on truly being an integral part of the community in which they practice.

“We want to be more than just doctors,” Narbeh said. “We want to give back to the community in ways beyond serving as physicians, so we attend health fairs and fundraising events, we donate our time to the community, and really make our presences felt.”

It would seem that Los Angeles County has taken notice of the doctors, too. Recently, they were both named “2016 Top Docs” in Pasadena Magazine—an honor that Narbeh described as “prestigious”. Both doctors were nominated for the honor by fellow medical professionals in the area.

“It’s been very rewarding,” Garen said. “Narbeh and I grew up here, from elementary to middle to high school, and coming back to the community we grew up in is just so rewarding.”

Both doctors speak fluent Armenian, which is a plus in Glendale—the city is home to one of the largest Armenian communities in the US. “The majority of the Armenian population here is bilingual, but they do get a lot of comfort when we come to see them in the hospital, especially if they’re elderly and we speak to them in Armenian,” Narbeh said.

The two have returned to Armenia (though separately, and not for work), and planned to visit together as part of a medical mission program run out of Glendale Adventist Hospital, one of the facilities with which they’re associated. That trip got sidelined for a great reason, though—Garen’s first child was born in September, and Narbeh’s was born in December. Just like their fathers, the children are three months apart.

Who knows? Perhaps Narbeh and Garen’s children will open a practice together someday, too. But until that happens, their fathers are doing their part to address Glendale’s healthcare needs.

“It’s been great, and the community has really gotten to know us,” Narbeh said. “We’ve been keeping very, very busy—and we’re only getting busier.”

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Q&A: 2016 Grad Marc Katz Gives an Inside Look at Year One of Residency

January 18, 2017

Ross graduate Marc Katz Q&ACurious about the life of a first-year resident? To give you an inside look at the intern year, we sat down with 2016 Ross graduate Marc Katz, currently in year one of his internal medicine residency at Drexel University College of Medicine. Check out our Q&A below!

Q: Hi Marc! You’re now about halfway into your internal medicine residency at Drexel—if you could, how would you sum up the life of a PGY-1 (postgraduate year) resident?

Intern year is rough. There’s no way around it. But I don’t think that’s specific to just internal medicine or just my program. You’re the first one seeing your patients in the morning, checking labs, putting in daily orders, calling consults, and speaking with family members. It’s a lot at first. But at the end of the day I enjoy it. It’s amazing to see how much my classmates and I have grown in six months. And also how quickly six months have flown by. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Well, maybe for more sleep. Definitely for more sleep. On a beach. In Thailand.

Q: How did you feel on your first day of residency? Nervous? Excited? A little of both?

I couldn’t wait. It felt like waking up on the morning of my birthday as a little kid. It’s strange when you work so hard for so long towards a goal and then one day you’re living it.

Then it became frustrating. That first month of residency is a lot of figuring out how the system works and not a lot of actual medicine. It’s a lot of scut work and I often felt like an overqualified secretary. A secretary who had no idea how to do his job.

Fortunately I’ve had some really great senior residents who continue to help me everyday. I imagine that being a senior resident helping an intern is kind of like watching a child learn to tie their shoes. It would be easier for you to just do it yourself and it’s frustrating and time consuming but you know that they have to learn to do it themselves so you sit patiently and show them the ropes. Having a good senior resident makes all the difference and I can’t thank them enough for not only putting up with my antics but also taking the time to teach me and be a role model and mentor.

Q: I read on your Twitter feed that you’ve run into a few Ross grads at Drexel. Must be cool to see fellow Rossies during residency.

I love running into fellow Ross grads. And we are everywhere! Even more broadly being a Caribbean medical graduate is a huge connection and it’s been nice to see so many residents, fellows, and attendings from similar backgrounds.

Q: I saw (also on Twitter) that you’re teaching medical school students? What’s that like?

It’s a challenge to have extra time in your day to teach but I make a concerted effort to find time. It always frustrated me in medical school when I was literally paying to be there and learn and all I ended up doing was scut work. So when I have a medical student I try to teach bits and pieces of medical knowledge as we go throughout the day along with the more formal lecture style of teaching when we aren’t too swamped. And inevitably when I don’t know something it’s particularly rewarding to have my medical student teach me something or for us to learn something together from our senior resident or attending…or UpToDate.

Q: Do you still have time to blog?

It’s a priority so I make time for it. Although admittedly not as much as I used to. My most recent post The Worst Thing About Being an Internal Medicine Intern was published on KevinMD.

I also just wrapped up a series of interviews of recent medical school graduates. I interviewed them about the residency application and interview process and the match. I spoke with current interns in surgery, emergency medicine, OB/GYN, PM&R, and pediatrics. I also interviewed a Ross graduate who matched back home in Canada, a family medicine intern who failed step one, and one brave interview with an unmatched applicant going through the match again this year. I wanted to share the stories of different medical students and have each of them give their own unique advice on the application and match process in order to quell the fears and anxieties that all medical students experience to some degree.

Currently, I’m in the process of interviewing those same interns in a follow up series about intern year. So keep a look out!

Q: I know it’s a little early, but are you considering a fellowship further down the line?

Cardiology. Since, you know…I’ve seen enough broken hearts to know I’d rather fix them instead. Just kidding! But yes, I do seriously plan on pursuing a fellowship in cardiology. Fortunately I still have enough time to figure out whether or not I plan to pursue a subspecialty in heart failure, invasive cardiology, or electrophysiology. For now, cardiology is good enough for me.

Q: Any thoughts for prospective students considering Ross?

Ross gives you the ability to become an MD. It is not a guarantee that you will get the residency that you want in your desired specialty. I happened to get both but you definitely face a unique set of challenges when you choose to attend a Caribbean medical school.

So if you know that you want to go into orthopedic surgery, urology, neurosurgery or any other ultra competitive field then maybe Ross isn’t the right for you. It’s not impossible to match into those fields from a Caribbean medical school, Ross has plenty of graduates to prove it, but those fields are already tough to match into without giving yourself extra hurdles to overcome.

That being said, if you’re thinking about going into a primary care field like family or internal medicine, pediatrics, OB/GYN, or psychiatry then Ross might be a great fit for you since two-thirds of our grads go into primary care fields. It’s still up to you to make your studies a priority, get killer USMLE scores, and set yourself apart from the field!

You can subscribe to Marc's blog at MyKatz, follow him on Twitter at KittyKatzMD, and Like him on Facebook at Marc Katz, MD.

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SCHOLARSHIPS: Ashley Sebastian Begins the Path She Vowed to Take

January 18, 2017

With a Masters of Public Health degree from Western University in Ontario, Canada under her belt and a wealth of medical and community volunteer experience on her resume, Ashley Sebastian just began her first semester at Ross University School of Medicine – with scholarships.

As a recipient of the Dean’s Scholar Award and Opportunity Scholarship, both merit-based aid, Sebastian was acknowledged for the combination of her academic performance, service and exposure to medicine. For several years she volunteered at a community kitchen, the Nova Scotia Cancer Clinic and was involved in the Environmental Noxiousness, Racial Inequalities and Community Health Project (The ENRICH Project) at Dalhousie University. Sebastian also served as the first research assistant at the William Osler Health System in Brampton, Ontario where she analyzed medical charts and physician processes to develop better practice outcomes. Additionally, Sebastian had the opportunity to shadow Dr. Subodh Verma who is a professor of surgery and pharmacology at the University of Toronto as well as cardiac surgeon at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

“That day, I made a vow to become a physician who would never leave anyone behind. My mission is to improve the quality of life for others by bridging the gap between social determinants adverse to health and health care delivery.”

Sebastian has known from an early age that she would become a physician. While on vacation with her family as a second-grader, a driver refused to stop the vehicle to assist a visibly hemorrhaging pedestrian, in spite of her pleas.

“That day, I made a vow to become a physician who would never leave anyone behind,” said Sebastian recalling how helpless and sad she felt. “My mission is to improve the quality of life for others by bridging the gap between social determinants adverse to health and health care delivery.”

Perhaps it was also the influence of her family that subconsciously inspired Sebastian to become a physician. Her grandfather, father, three uncles and a host of cousins all have careers in medicine.

“I have grown up in a family of physicians and realize that hard work and an ardent commitment to the sick are the cornerstones of the profession,” said Sebastian as she contemplated about the physician role models in her family. “From volunteering to help the homeless to sponsoring children in developing countries, my father, who is a physician, taught me the foundations of selflessness and altruism.”

Sebastian completed her undergraduate career at St. Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she received the 2014 Student Leadership Award for Science. In the same year she made the Dean’s List and was an active member of the university’s Caribbean Society. In 2015, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology.

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TECH: Ross-Supported SJMO Simulation Center Is a Boon for Students

January 17, 2017

Recently, there was a grand opening of the Ross-supported simulation center at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Oakland (SJMO) in Pontiac, Michigan. This sim center will be a great boon for students who are doing rotations there, and for the level of medical education at the facility.  Dave Pedersen, Ross’s director of simulation, plated a critical role in making this project a success. “We look forward to a continuing excellent relationship with SJMO, our valued clinical partner,” said Ross’s Dean and Chancellor Joseph Flaherty, MD.

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LEADERSHIP: Professorship at U of Illinois College of Medicine Named for RUSM Dean

January 17, 2017

“I am humbled and honored,” said RUSM’s Dean and Chancellor Joseph A. Flaherty, MD at the establishment of the Professorship in Child Psychiatry named for him at the University of Illinois College of Medicine (UICOM). Dr. Flaherty is a graduate of UIC, earned his MD there, and went on to serve as head of the psychiatry department and Dean of UICOM. “This Professorship is the extension of an already robust legacy of strong leadership and service to this institution,” said Dr. Anand Kumar, head of psychiatry.

The event was celebrated at a reception hosted by the department of psychiatry on Sept. 19, 2016. There was a gathering of people including some of Dr. Flaherty’s former students and residents, and even his first patient from the time he was a medical student in psychiatry, with whom he’s kept in touch all these years.


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CAMPUS: Watch the Transformation at White Coat

January 12, 2017

Ross alumnus Ray King, MD, PhD, with his family.

Ross alumnus Ray King, MD, PhD, with his family.

On January 13, 2017 the traditional White Coat ceremony will transform the new cohort of RUSM students into doctors-in-training. Watch the livestream of the White Coat ceremony on the Dominica campus at  The event is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. EST, and the livestream will be available from 12:30 p.m. EST.

The keynote speaker will be alumnus Ray King, MD, PhD, who earned his MD from RUSM in 2010 and his PhD in Anatomy and Neurobiology from Boston University School of Medicine in 2002. He is a colorectal surgeon at University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.

He completed a post-doctoral fellowship with a focus on neural stem cell transplant and molecular imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Prior to obtaining his MD, Dr. King taught anatomy at several medical schools in the Boston area and abroad. He also served as Assistant Professor of Anatomy at RUSM from 2004 -2008. During the last two years as a faculty member, he concurrently attended RUSM as a medical student. Dr. King obtained a categorical residency position in the Department of Surgery at the Medical College of Georgia (MCG). He served as the chief surgery resident in 2014-2015, during which time he was voted as Resident of the Year at MCG. During his residency he served on several committees with the American College of Surgeons and the American Board of Surgery. He then went on to complete his fellowship training in Colon & Rectal Surgery at University of Minnesota.

Dr. King is a board certified surgeon and is currently in private practice with the Colon & Rectal Surgery Associates in Georgia. His wife, Jessica Van Beek-King, is also a Ross alumnus (2010). She completed her training in Otolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery at the Medical College of Georgia, and then went on to complete a Pediatric Otolaryngology fellowship at Lurie Children’s Hospital/Northwestern University in Chicago. She is a board certified Head & Neck surgeon and an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Drs. King and Van Beek-King have two young daughters.

Tags: White Coat , Campus , Students

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Op-Ed: Ross Plays a Critical Role in Helping New York Meet Its Physician Workforce Needs

January 11, 2017

In an editorial published in the Times-Union (Albany, NY) daily newspaper, Ross dean and chancellor Joseph Flaherty, MD writes that Ross creates a “career path for promising students left out by U.S. [medical] schools.”

He goes on, “Many American [medical] schools can’t make room for qualified, but nontraditional, applicants – including minorities, older candidates pursuing a second career, and first generation immigrants.”

Providing opportunity to deserving students is part of the Ross social mission, but it’s also a tremendous boost to communities around the U.S. who need good doctors. Ross is graduating a higher percentage of African-Americans and Hispanics than US medical schools, producing doctors who practice in regions where there is a physician shortage, like New York, and graduating physicians who overwhelmingly choose primary care. Read more (Sign-in may be required.)

See other references to Ross stories in the Times-Union:

Tags: New York

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ALUMNI: Award-Winning Pediatrician Took the Path Less Traveled By

January 10, 2017

Desiree Eakin, MD, FAAP (Ross Class of 2006)

Desiree Eakin, MD, FAAP (Ross Class of 2006)

Desiree Eakin and her now-husband both grew up in southern California. They met and began dating at the University of California-Irvine. When it came time to make postgrad plans, they knew they wanted to spend their lives together and eventually practice medicine in California.

So they went to medical school in… Dominica.

Sound illogical? Far from it. In fact, attending medical school in the Caribbean was a carefully thought-out decision—one she and her husband had planned from the start, says Dr. Eakin, now the owner of Olive Health Pediatrics in Burbank, California.

Although one might have expected the UC grads to apply for medical school in-state and hopefully springboard their careers in California, Dr. Eakin knew the odds were against them—even with her and her husband’s stellar grades. Both were all too aware that talented, qualified applicants are routinely denied admission to U.S. medical schools every year, simply because seats are limited and the demand is sky-high.

“You could be the top of your class, the number one performer, but the chances of us both getting into the same U.S. school were basically none,” says Dr. Eakin. “So we said, why don’t we go to the Caribbean together? We knew as long as we worked hard, we were going to be successful and eventually be able to practice medicine in our home state.”

Why Ross Stood Out

There were three key reasons why Dr. Eakin and her husband chose Ross specifically:

  1. Academics and facilities
    “We were blown away by the anatomy lab,” says Dr. Eakin. “The whole setup was just incredible. You could tell Ross had a strong focus on your academic success with the support in place to help you achieve it.”
  2. U.S. focus
    “All of the rotations were offered at hospitals in the U.S., which we felt was so crucial. We could choose electives at sites with programs in our field of interest and make contacts for future residency positions.”
  3. Accreditation and approvals
    “A lot of Caribbean medical schools weren’t approved in California at the time. Not only were Ross grads approved in California, Ross also had an excellent reputation.”

Finding Her Niche

When they arrived at Ross, they knew they had made the right choice. “The culture was great,” says Dr. Eakin. “It was a big help to have a community of people who want to succeed—and, of course, it was nice having my husband there!”

And despite being located in Dominica, the institution’s U.S. focus was evident in every aspect of their education. “The curriculum mimicked programs in the U.S., the rotations were offered in the U.S., and your academic progress was measured by nationally recognized exams, not just university-specific tests,” Dr. Eakin recalls. “That was so important to us.”

It was during her core rotation in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Orange County that Dr. Eakin knew she’d found her specialty. She’d always enjoyed working with kids, but pediatrics came so naturally to her, it felt nearly effortless. People started commenting when they saw how even the most notoriously difficult kids were calmed by her presence. Both her mentor and the head of pediatrics told her she should seriously consider specializing in the field.

“It just felt like home,” says Dr. Eakin. “It was a natural interaction. I thought, maybe this is the right path for me.”

To say it was the right path was an understatement. After completing her pediatrics residency at University of Nevada School of Medicine, Dr. Eakin became the director of hospital medicine at UN, the director of clinical simulation for pediatric residents, and head of the pediatric sub internship for medical students. From there, she accepted a position at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA) as a pediatric hospitalist and attending physician for pediatric residents of CHLA and medical students at USC Keck School of Medicine.

Her next move? She was starting a family and needed more flexibility in her schedule, so she decided it was time to do what she’d always dreamed—open her own practice.

Paving the Way Forward

Today, as the owner of Olive Health Pediatrics, Dr. Eakin is a full-time general pediatrician and pediatric hospitalist, and a part-time academic. Recently, she received a "Super Doctors Rising Stars - Southern California" award for 2016, and a Top Doctor award for 2016. Past recognitions include “Best Pediatrician in Burbank 2015,” as well as “Top Doctor” for 2013 and 2014.

Her husband is an internal medicine hospitalist, where he regularly works in critical care and takes care of patients in the ICU. “That’s his passion. He’s a very laid-back person, but he loves the adrenaline rush,” says Dr. Eakin.

Dr. Eakin’s path has undoubtedly been challenging, but well worth it. And she hopes her story can serve as inspiration for future physicians to realize that success is within their reach, too.

“If I would’ve seen somebody in the spotlight, achieving what I wanted to achieve, it would’ve helped me so much,” she says. “I am proof that although it’s not easy to obtain a position in an academic institution in California as an international medical grad, I have been able to knock down those barriers. Just know that anything is truly possible, and you will accomplish what you set out to do.”

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Tags: California , Alumni , Pediatrics

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