Ross University Blog

ALUMNI: Newlyweds Were a Match in Med School and in the Couples Match for Residency

February 28, 2017

Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) alumni Rebecca Negron, MD (’13) and Fabio Morales, MD (’13) met during their first semester of medical school on the campus in Dominica, the Caribbean “nature” island, in 2009. “We had Anatomy and all the other labs together, and those became our ‘dates,’” Fabio said. “We started snorkeling and scuba diving, and the rest is history.”

They graduated together and earned their MD degrees in 2013. Today the Florida natives are working as hospitalists in the Tampa Bay area of the state. He is at Bayfront Hospital and she is at Tampa General.

The couple has always shared a passion for medicine and was well-matched in many ways. Perhaps most importantly for their professional and personal lives, they entered the Couples Match together for residency in Internal Medicine and both matched successfully at the University of Miami Palm Beach Campus. One bit of rivalry that they enjoy is rooting for their undergraduate alma mater’s sports teams, he for the University of South Florida in Tampa and she for the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

It was a match made in med school for these doctors who got married on January 21, 2017. Where did they choose to go for their honeymoon? “We went to Dominica where we visited the campus and drove the entire island a couple of times,” Fabio related. “We went back to the places that reminded us of our early beginnings.”

They also were pleased to see that a student club they helped create still exists, OLAS (Organization of Latin American Students.) The group organized health fairs on the island, where they evaluated more than 400 people with screening blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol levels, vision and general physical exams. They also taught medical Spanish to students, and also gave Salsa dance lessons. “It was a great time,” Fabio said.

He added that both he and his spouse are very appreciative of RUSM for giving them a chance to realize their dreams of becoming physicians.

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Tags: Florida , Alumni , Residency , Couples

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SCHOLARSHIPS: Becoming Someone Who Has the Power to Help

February 22, 2017

Roma Nagin, Ross student and recipient of the Opportunity Scholarship

Roma Nagin, Ross student and recipient of the Opportunity Scholarship

Roma Nagin knew she was ready to start her journey towards becoming a physician. All she needed was a chance.

And now, as a first-semester student at Ross and the recipient of an Opportunity Scholarship, this Surrey, British Columbia native is on her way to making it happen.

Roma’s journey into medicine has been more than a decade in the making. When she was 12 years old, a close family member had to be rushed to the hospital—an experience that left her feeling completely powerless. “I had no idea how to help her, and I never wanted to be in that position again,” said Roma.

But in the midst of her fear, a thought struck her: Maybe, one day, she could be someone who did have the power to help.

“That’s when I first thought about pursuing a career in medicine,” Roma said.

For the next several years, Roma did her due diligence—and then some—in an effort to confirm whether medicine truly was the best fit for her. In her science classes, she found herself especially fascinated by the human body and the myriad ways it adapts to survive. That was a good sign. But Roma knew this decision “wasn’t one to be taken lightly,” and figured some real-world experience would be the true test.

So she spent the next several years volunteering at three local hospitals. There, she did everything from helping families find loved ones in the emergency department, to leading exercise groups for patients in the transitional care unit. Meanwhile, Roma studied biology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and worked as a laboratory research assistant at UBC’s Biomedical Research Centre.

The verdict? There was no denying it—she was ready to take the next step and pursue her MD.

Roma was attracted to Ross for a number of reasons, including residency placement rates, organizations like the Canadian Student Society, and the positive firsthand accounts from friends already studying at Ross. And now that she’s been in Dominica for nearly two months, she’s found even more to love about it.

“So far, one of my favorite areas is the anatomy lab,” Roma said. “We get hands-on experience with dissecting cadavers and learning the material up close. Plus, Ross provides us early training in clinical skills that we’ll use in our rotations—not to mention, the rest of our lives.”

She added, “The community here is so kind that you can ask anyone for help and they’d be willing to go out of their way to help you, whether they’re a student or a professor. And I’ve already made so many good friends that I know will last a lifetime.”

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Tags: Canada , Students , Scholarships

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IN THE NEWS: Ross Alumni Making a Difference in California (and Beyond)

February 17, 2017

It’s estimated that 8,000 additional primary care doctors will be needed in California by 2030.  A feature article published in STAT News recognizes the role international medical graduates (IMGs) from schools like Ross play in reducing the US physician shortage, particularly in the Golden State.

Stat News showcases Ross alumni, Drs. Tarvinder Singh, chief resident of the Family Medicine program at University of California - Riverside, and Moazzum Bajwa, a second-year resident in the same program. Read more about how medical schools like Ross are giving talented and committed people like Dr. Singh and Dr. Bajwa the opportunity to become physicians and bring much needed compassionate care to communities around the US.

>> Read: Why the United States is no longer Turning Up its Nose at Caribbean Medical Schools (STAT, 2/17/2017)

Photo: Dania Maxwell for Stat News

(Left to right: Moazzum Bajwa, MD, and Tarvinder Singh, MD)





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ALUMNI: They Met in Med School. Now They're Married MDs.

February 14, 2017

It was a Match Made in MERP (Medical Education Readiness Program) when Richard P. Bowser and Lindsey Ling met, as they began their journey to become physicians. The road led them not only on the path to success as students of Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM), but it also led them down the aisle; they graduated as MDs in 2014 and married two years later.

Today Richard P. Bowser is a PGY-2 anesthesiology resident at Jackson Memorial Hospital/University of Miami Hospital, and his wife Lindsey Ling Bowser is a PGY-2 family medicine resident at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Jacksonville, FL.

They entered the Couples Match, attempting to obtain residencies close to each other, “but unfortunately it wasn't very kind to us,” Richard commented. Nevertheless, they were undaunted in their pursuit of their professional goals and the dream of a life together. “We make it work,” Richard said.

Florida Natives and Football Rivals

They are both Florida natives. He grew up in Jacksonville and earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Florida (UF) in Gainesville, and she grew up in Brandon, FL, near Tampa, and did her undergraduate studies at the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa.

What brought them together initially, Lindsey said, was “watching a UF vs. USF football game.” Richard added, “We had a bet on which team would win.” While on the Dominica campus they were active in several student clubs and organizations. He was a three-time flag football champion with the MERP Strong team, and she was involved with the Neuroscience Society, the Pediatric Students Association, and as the island’s Tennis Commissioner.

Why did They Choose RUSM?

Their time on the island “was an adventure that allowed me to grow not only as a student but also as a person,” Richard said. “I garnered a new appreciation for a wonderful culture and for my future profession.” Lindsey said that her experiences in Dominica were “full of adventure, camaraderie, and disciplined studying.”

Why did they choose RUSM? “My parents both went to an international medical school,” Lindsey related,” so choosing Ross was only natural. I also worked with an alumnus at his Internal Medicine practice.” Richard said that enrolling in RUSM was “an opportunity to achieve my medical degree. It also had a stellar reputation from friends who were enrolled prior to my application submission.”

Now the married doctors are proud RUSM alumni who enjoy sharing their success story.

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Tags: Florida , Residency , MERP , Family Medicine

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VIEWPOINT: What Advice Do Students Need?

February 08, 2017

Vijay Rajput, MD, professor and chairman of medicine
Vijay Rajput, MD, Professor and Chairman of Medicine at RUSM

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

One Mentor Is Not Enough

It is never too early for a medical student to seek advice about the many steps that he or she will be required to take on the path to becoming a physician. You need to have a realistic goal, based on your prior academic achievements and experience, and to ask the right questions to help you make good decisions along the way. Advisors, faculty members, mentors, peers, older professionals, alumni and an array of resources can all be very useful. But don’t just rely on these. Go beyond them to build up a network drawn from people you meet. It’s a myth that anyone who isn’t an MD can’t advise you. Talk to strangers in local, regional and national meetings. Recent residents and fellows can help you to navigate the day-to-day process of submitting residency applications, and more.

Also keep in mind that one mentor is not enough. You need one mentor to see the trees, and one to see the forest. The trees are what is happening right now, and the forest is the big picture. Sometimes advice from a doctor who graduated 20 years ago, though well-meaning, is not relevant if you’re applying for residency in the current environment. The process and nature of competitiveness is different now. What you need to do now to be successful may be different from what it was in the past. You should make sure to stay in touch with your advisors on a regular basis.

Preparing for Success in the Residency Match

Halfway through your core rotations start to think about your senior electives, based on the specialty or specialties in which you are planning to apply for residency. If you want to go into emergency medicine, make sure that the electives you choose help you achieve a career in that medical specialty. At Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) this is the time to call a clinical advisor and also to get advice from students who have recently matched in that specialty. For the senior electives you have three choices; to stay at the hospital where you did your core rotations, to go to another hospital within the RUSM track system, or to go outside this system. Any of the options will help you get a competitive residency if chosen carefully and completed successfully.

Around the time when a student is between completing the fifth core clerkship and beginning the senior electives, he or she needs to ask the right questions to prepare for the residency match. The career advisors in the Office of Student Professional Development (OSPD) at RUSM can guide students and help them with writing a personal statement, obtaining letters of recommendation, doing a CV, and MSPE (Medical School Performance Evaluation) which are components of the application to residency programs. At RUSM we have developed a series of webinars, offered in real-time and also available for later viewing, on several common   specialties, on how to do the ERAS (ERAS (Electronic Residency Application Service®) and also on interview skills, how to rank the programs, and many more.

Help is also available from RUSM advisors to make a residency action plan and to choose a program and career, as well as assistance in deciding on the number of programs to which a student should apply.

Don't Be Afraid to Ask Questions

There are students who may be afraid to ask questions because they are concerned about sounding foolish. That cannot be further from the truth. The only way to make sure you get specific answers to those matters arising from your individual situation is to ask several advisors or mentors.

There may be all kinds of questions that crop up in a student’s mind, and they should be put to rest so that you achieve peace of mind and are able to devote your energies to your studies and training. To answer your questions there are clinical advisors, OSPD advisors, and advisors from financial aid and the registrar’s department. At RUSM we will let you know the kinds of questions you should be asking. It is then up to you, the student, to formulate your queries, depending on your circumstances, and reach out to the advisors and mentors who can help you get the answers you need to succeed.


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STUDENTS: White Coat Transforms Students into Doctors-in-Training

February 06, 2017

An outstanding White Coat ceremony on January 13 transformed the new cohort of RUSM students into doctors-in-training. The event was attended by Dominica dignitaries including His Excellency the President, Charles Savarin and Mrs. Savarin as well as the Prime Minister the Honorable Roosevelt Skerrit.  As the Hon. Ian Douglas, Minister of Trade, Energy & Employment, and Parliamentary Representative for the Portsmouth Constituency said to the class of 2021, “You have chosen perhaps the best place on earth to begin your medical education.”                             

Also on the program was Her Excellency Ambassador Linda Taglialatela US Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, who said, “I send warmest regards from the President and the Department of State and wish you well as you begin your medical careers. I know that all of us at the ceremony, and surely everyone around the world watching it on livestream, were impressed with the high-level attention and encouragement given to the students who are embarking on the quest to become physicians.”

In his keynote address Ray King, MD, PhD, (RUSM ’10) hit a home run, as an engaging speaker, a successful practicing physician, and a role model for work/life balance. Dr. King is a board certified surgeon and is currently in private practice with the Colon & Rectal Surgery Associates in Georgia. He was accompanied by his wife, RUSM alumna Jessica Van Beek-King, MD (RUSM ’10) and their two daughters.

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Tags: White Coat , Students

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ALUMNI: Ross Grad Earns Competitive Cardiology Fellowship in Home State

February 06, 2017

Stephanie Saucier, MD ('14), set to begin a cardiology fellowship at Hartford Hospital this summer

Stephanie Saucier, MD ('14), set to begin a cardiology fellowship at Hartford Hospital this summer

Growing up with a tight-knit family in Bristol, Connecticut, it was always important to Stephanie Saucier to stay close to home while pursuing her dream career. Thanks to her own hard work and determination, this Class of 2014 Ross graduate is doing just that.

Not only did Dr. Saucier match into a residency program at the University of Connecticut, but in July she’ll start a prestigious cardiology fellowship at Hartford Hospital—just shy of 45 minutes from home.

We caught up with Dr. Saucier to learn more about life after graduation, her time at Ross and her path to a career in cardiology.

What was the initial MATCH™ like for you?
The MATCH™ was a little nerve-wracking because being an international medical grad, you hear all these rumors and you don’t know what it’s going to be like. But once you start getting interviews, a lot of those fears just go away. Ross has made such a great name within residencies at university programs; there are Ross students everywhere. In fact, one of my mentors, the director of cardiology at my hospital, is a Ross grad. There are so many people who’ve come before me who have done such amazing things.

Tell us about your residency. What made the program seem like a great fit for you, and how has your experience been?
I’m a third-year resident in primary care internal medicine at the University of Connecticut. First, I definitely wanted to be in Connecticut. I was born and raised in Bristol, Connecticut and I’m very close with my family and friends. So geography was huge for me. And then UConn has everything you could ever imagine. We rotate through four of the biggest hospitals in the state, and there’s a lot of research opportunities.

In addition to primary care, my program offers fellowship opportunities for those who are interested; about 50 percent of residents in this program go onto fellowships. Also, it’s a smaller program, which was a draw for me, too. I know all of the attending physicians very well, and we have great working relationships. They know who you are from intern year on, and they’re very friendly and open. Everyone’s willing to help each other out, pick up extra shifts, etc. And the program director [Dr. Thomas Lane] is incredible.

What kinds of opportunities have you been involved in? 
I’ve been able to present at two national conferences. I did some research on nuclear imaging (cardiac) PET and SPECT and I presented that at American Society of Nuclear Cardiology Conference in Boca Raton, Florida. My original research was on chest pain observation admissions, ultimately observed and ruled out for a few coronary symptoms—that one I presented at Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care in Miami.

What’s one of your most memorable experiences at Ross?
Discovering cardiology. When we did our cardiology unit, I was just fascinated. It’s such a humbling field—it affects everyone from birth to death, all walks of life. Your heart is so vital to everything you are. You really need to look at the whole person in order to understand cardiology. Plus, research and development in cardiology is always growing.

Why did you choose Ross?
First, I admittedly did not do as well as I would’ve liked on my MCAT, so that hurt my chances for U.S. medical schools. I got lots of advice from people who said, “Do a post-bac year, get a master’s in public health,” etc. to boost my resume before reapplying to a U.S. medical school. But my best friend’s brother had just completed the Foundations of Medicine curriculum at Ross. He said, “You know Steph, you should really look into Ross.” I loved what I saw when I researched it more and when I interviewed. And now, years later, he has done incredibly well. He’s a chief cardiology fellow now and is going into electrophysiology.

What was your campus experience like?
Dominica is an incredibly special place. Your friends and the people you meet at Ross become your lifelong family and confidantes. I actually went back recently to visit a friend who lives in the same apartment complex I lived in. It was amazing because the landlords knew I was coming and they remembered that my favorite island fruit was guava, so they picked some fresh guava and brought it to my friend’s house. It was so touching and really shows how you’re part of a lifelong community as a Ross graduate.

Any advice for current Ross students?
If you’re self-motivated and you have that drive, you’ll do well. Don’t stop working hard. Keep at it, no matter how the road twists and turns. But don’t forget to take a step back every once and awhile, take a day off, enjoy Dominica and the people you’re living with. You’re part of the Ross family. Reach out to your peers and alumni, because we are all willing to help.

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Tags: Alumni , Residency , Fellowship , Connecticut , Cardiology

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