Ross University Blog

ACADEMICS: Second-Year Ross Student Presents at AMSA Conference

November 07, 2016

Second-semester Ross student Doan Nguyen

Second-semester Ross student Doan Nguyen

Congratulations to second-year Ross student Doan Nguyen on delivering a popular presentation at the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) conference held in Puerto Rico on Oct. 15 and 16, 2016. Doan was invited to lead a session titled Arterial Blood Gas Sampling and Identification. More than 200 people attended this presentation.

The highlights of the AMSA conference include bringing together physicians-in-training and expert facilitators. Attendees spend two days exploring current issues in medicine, building clinical skills, and connecting with peers.

Doan earned a BA from University of Economics, Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam and BS degree in respiratory care from the University of Texas Medical Branch, Texas. He is currently a licensed respiratory therapist, and had practiced in this field for nine years before enrolling in medical school at Ross.

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ACADEMICS: RUSM Chairman of Medicine Publishes Editorial in Journal

July 12, 2016

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

Dr. Vijay Rajput, Professor and Chairman of Medicine at Ross University School of Medicine, has published an editorial in the current issue of the Indian Journal of Medical Specialties.

The article—titled Subtraction: Critical skills for clinician at bedside—begins with a quote from Lao Tzu: "To attain knowledge, add things every day. To attain wisdom, subtract things every day."

Below is an excerpt from the article:

“During residency training, physicians come across many diagnostic, communication, and/or administrative challenges in clinical care,” Rajput writes. “Both the teacher and learner can learn a lot from these challenges with patient care and the hospital system. Internship and residency are the important formative times in their professional education. This is the time in which residents get experiential learning while taking care of patients under the supervision of their attending, as well as understand the balance between autonomy and supervision.”

Download the article here.

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Q&A: What Can the Student Affairs Department Do for You?

March 23, 2016

Paula Wales and Bryan Hayse
Paula Wales, EdD (above, left), senior associate dean of academic and student affairs, and Bryan Hayse, associate dean of student affairs

If there’s one thing that students at Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) need to know it’s this: if you’re having any kind of trouble, personal or academic, the Student Affairs department is here to help. Paula Wales, EdD, senior associate dean of academic and student affairs recently sat down with Bryan Hayse, EdD, associate dean of student affairs, Dominica campus, to talk about the types of issues students may face and how they can get help. Here is an excerpt from that conversation:

Hayse: Every semester I have a person who seeks us out a little too late, and says, ‘I didn’t know there was anything that could be done.’ Don’t wait until a problem escalates – early intervention is key. 

Wales: As soon as anything goes wrong, come talk to us and we’ll try to help you. Do not lose the opportunity for early intervention. If you don’t know the answer, come to us and we’ll find out. Can I take a leave? When do I have to apply to take the USMLE® Step 1? Bring us any kind of problem or concern before it gets out of hand.

Hayes: We can assist you with housing concerns, immigration issues, student insurance, financial aid, just to name a few areas.. When there’s a tragedy, for example a death in the family, and the student is not handling it well, we may refer him or her to our counseling center.

Wales: If the student is struggling academically, and maybe failed the first mini exam, and is not sure of the options available, we can help identify where to start. We can also talk to the faculty on their behalf about coursework and grades. Sometimes medical students think they’re too busy to get help. All they need to do is take a moment and contact Student Affairs. They will be directed to the right person.

Hayes: We’re not going to solve all your problems but we have a wide range of resources for you, like the Center for Teaching and Learning, a specific faculty member,  the Health Center, and if needed, accommodations for disabilities.

Wales: It’s hard for medical students to seek help. They’ve done well and people look up to them. But then the first time grandma gets sick or they fail an exam it hits them really hard. Sometimes they dig in and think they can handle it on their own. Remember, there are very few things we haven’t seen. We might be able to get you a leave of absence. We can help you solve problems.

Hayes: Students need to understand that everyone struggles at some point along the way. It’s ok to reach out. Remember, the longer you go before getting help, the fewer options remain.

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VIEWPOINT: Can Those Who Practice Medicine Also Teach Medicine?

March 17, 2016

This article was written by Robert Dean, MD, RUSM OB/GYN Clerkship Director.

Are practicing medicine and teaching medicine pretty much the same thing? Maybe, maybe not. I always liked teaching.  Even as a resident I would take students and teach them.  Everybody said I was good at it.  As an attending, in private practice, I would give lectures and agreed to supervise residents. I even won a couple of awards from the staff.  So it was not much of a surprise when a local community hospital hired me to run their Family Medicine OB/GYN service.

Resident lectures, supervising clinics and deliveries -- it was fun and productive.  I felt I really knew my stuff and was doing a great job.  A few years later, my chairman came to me and told me we were getting OB/GYN residents and medical students from a nearby osteopathic school.  He told me that since I was already teaching the family medicine residents that I should create a curriculum for the residents’ and students’ rotation.  Well, after a few hours of seminars at the school, I wrote what I thought was a reasonable orientation and lecture schedule. Things went along pretty well.

How I felt about education was that clinical work is a great way to learn.  Work hard and you will learn and get a great grade.  I had no direct knowledge of exams, shelf, step, whatever. The students went back to their school for those things and I was not involved.  Evaluations?  I was never informed about how they could be best worded for the residency application.  Letters of recommendation?  Ha, I just wrote what I thought. What was I missing?  Did I even know that I was missing something?  I loved teaching and knew my way but only my way and not much else.

After about seven years, I was told that students from another school were coming, Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM).  Ok, students showed up, and not much changed.  I placed a lot of importance on all of the clinical matters but not much on academic.  However, after a couple of years I managed to make it to one of the leadership conferences that RUSM holds every year.  Great trip, I thought.  I did my job, I went to all the lectures, but there was one thing.  I had no idea what they were talking about.  It was like they were speaking a different language, a foreign language.

They were speaking the language of education, more important, the language of medical education.  I felt completely ignorant.  No one had ever taught me that. I was never exposed to it.  Maybe you can imagine how I felt.  I thought of all of the family medicine residents that I had taught.  I thought of all of the OB/GYN residents that I had taught.  I thought even more about all of the students that I had taught.

I thought maybe I should apologize.  How many might I have let down, not understood.  How many different ways are there to learn?  What was extremely important that I had just missed? Maybe I wasn't doing such a good job.

So, medical students everywhere: I apologize. 

But that is the past.  Over the past few years I have tried to change, tried to learn the language, tried to grow and you know what happened.  I have learned to expect more from myself.  I have learned to expect more from students.  I have learned how to push a little, pull a little, accept a little and give a lot more.  I am still learning.  I still feel ignorant sometimes, but not as much. Now I know that teaching medicine requires more than practicing medicine.

Medical education is our responsibility; it never stops and it goes on forever.

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ALUMNI: Dr. Eric Neilson (RUSM ’09) Returns as Visiting Professor

February 01, 2016

A graduate of RUSM’s class of 2009, Eric Neilson, MD, a family medicine doctor, has returned to Dominica as a visiting professor in the department of clinical medicine.

“I’m teaching small groups clinically relevant topics,” he explained, “like physical exam skills, and practice on standardized patients.” 

This is the first time that Dr. Neilson, 36, has come back to the island since he left when he was a student, to do his clinical clerkships in the US. “But I’ve been back in my dreams and in my imagination,” he said. “I love it here. Dominica gave me a lot. I wanted to come back, to give back, not only to RUSM, but to the community.”

In the intervening years he has traveled widely and worked as a physician, a teacher, and a volunteer in India, Honduras, Cameroon, Zambia and New Zealand, and he served in a Peace Corps program in Tanzania.

A native of California, Dr. Neilson earned his undergraduate degree in microbiology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “I always wanted to be a doctor,” he related, “but after college I felt I needed a break from studying. So I was a teacher and taught high school science for three years at an underserved school. That was very difficult, very tough.”

When he was ready to apply to medical school, it was the fact that RUSM has three start dates a year that was one factor leading him to choose the school. “I had everything lined up,” he said. “My grades were good, my board scores were pretty good, but I would have had to wait a year and a half to start at a US medical school.”

A self-described “big outdoors person” he enjoys hiking, biking, sailing, surfing and diving. The “lush, untouched” nature island offers opportunities to engage in all of these activities now, just as he did when he was a student.

Dr. Neilson said that he was very impressed with the new Student Center, the expanded simulation lab, and campus and community enhancements, like the many food options that were not available in his time on the island.

“I really enjoy teaching the future doctors of America and the world,” he said. “Getting them at the beginning of their careers I have an opportunity to help shape their goals and improve their skills.”

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VIEWPOINT: The Top 7 Survival Skills Medical Students Need to Succeed

January 04, 2016

Dean and Chancellor Joseph A. Flaherty, MD, chats with Vijay Rajput, MD, Professor and Chairman of Medicine and Medical Director, Office for Student Professional Development. Check out their top seven survival skills for medical school below.

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

What skills do students need in order to do well in medical school, particularly during the basic sciences part of the program? This is a question that prospective and current students may ask as they ponder whether they have what it takes to succeed on the arduous journey to becoming a physician. I had a conversation on this topic recently with Dr. Vijay Rajput. Here are some excerpts from that discussion:

FLAHERTY: There are different types of skills; life skills, coping skills, generic skills, skills you can learn and some that are relatively fixed that can be improved on. To get through medical school students need to build and maintain social networks and to have two strong support systems –one is family and the other consists of mentors, colleagues, friends and acquaintances. It’s good to assess who’s in your network. Who do you call if, hypothetically, you need $10 or if you have a problem with a relationship?

RAJPUT: People in their twenties need to understand the value of family ties. They need to phone home, go home, and get recharged by those who have seen them succeed in the past and believe in their future. On the Dominica campus students should not be so focused on their studies that they postpone having a social life. They should be open to the possibility of beginning a relationship and not be held back by the fear that their studies will suffer. 

Learn the right survival skills for medical schoolFLAHERTY: Students need to develop study habits that work for them. Some learn by listening, some are visual, some take notes, and some learn by telling others.

RAJPUT: They need to create individualized learning methods to achieve standardized optimal outcomes. They should study to learn, not to memorize.

FLAHERTY: Time management is important. You can’t binge-study and make it work. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. There are limited effects to all-nighters. Maybe in high school or college you could do it, but not in medical school. There’s too much to learn and too much knowledge to integrate. Pace yourself.

RAJPUT: There’s no point studying 12 to 14 hours, because your brain cannot take it. Ideally, the number of hours you study should equal the number of hours you sleep. Your brain is like a computer. Only when you sleep does the information you studied get stored on the hard drive of the brain. Don’t deprive yourself of sleep.

FLAHERTY: You have to get enough sleep. Only when you get to stage-4 sleep can you store memory. Know your cycles. And find out where you study best. Some like to be in study rooms with others, some like to be in their own room. Make sure the significant part of your study time is by yourself. You can have a study group for a couple of hours to review something, and that can enhance your learning.

RAJPUT: Showing up and being on time, whether it’s going to class or to the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) are key. Some students say they just don’t learn in the classroom. At least try it. See if it works. And when you get an invitation to CTL, you show up. Then you work hard. There’s no excuse, no choice, no alternative – in medical school you have to work hard. That does not mean you jeopardize the balance between your work and social life.

FLAHERTY: Emotional states can enhance or depress learning. Beware: certain emotional, cognitive states will depress learning. Reducing stress can help. What can you do to reduce your stress level? Call a friend, talk to people, log on to Facebook, exercise, go to the gym, listen to music – whatever works. It helps to stay healthy, and good nutrition is critical.

RAJPUT: Nutritious comfort food can also play a big role.

To recap, here are the top seven survival skills medical students need to succeed:

  1. Build and maintain social networks.
  2. Develop study habits that work for you.
  3. Learn to manage your time.
  4. Get enough sleep.
  5. Show up and be on time.
  6. Work hard.
  7. Learn to reduce stress.

Note from Dean Flaherty: An additional set of skills is needed in the clinical years of the medical school program. Dr. Rajput and I will have a conversation about that topic in an upcoming blog.

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LOOKING BACK: End-of-Year Message from Dean Flaherty 2015

December 18, 2015

Sommerhalder and Veatch, RUSM alumni
Joseph A. Flaherty, MD, dean and chancellor of Ross University School of Medicine

As the year 2015 comes to a close my overarching thought is a resounding thank you to every one of our Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) students, colleagues, faculty, administrators and sister schools for helping us through what might otherwise have been a most difficult year, because of Tropical Storm Erika in Dominica, and its aftermath, in August. The sense of mission and shared values was never more evident. With it came that strong feeling of kinship with all of us in Miramar, in Dominica, New Jersey and Chicago. I am particularly grateful to the Dominica colleagues and faculty who went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that classes began as scheduled.

A Look Back at Academic Success and Support

In other areas it was also a very successful year, for which I want to thank all of our dedicated colleagues. As of 2017, one hundred percent of all RUSM clinical students are now in tracks and are on schedule to complete their entire third year of medical school within 48 weeks. We have made dramatic improvement in reducing the attrition of our students and that means more and more of them will achieve their dream of becoming a physician. We are giving a pronounced look to at-risk students to see what resources they need to succeed. This support includes an increase in the use of the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), the implementation of a strong mandatory mentoring program, and required targeted remediation for students whose scores are unsatisfactory in particular disciplines. On a positive note we continue to see strong student outcomes, thanks to continued collaboration among colleagues in the Basic Sciences and Clinical programs.

New Student Center Opens, Becomes Hub for Student Community

One of the year’s highlights was the official opening of the new Student Center on the Dominica campus on May 14, marking a significant milestone in the campus’s development. The 50,000 square-foot facility represents an investment of $18 million. It is the largest building on campus and has quickly become the hub for the RUSM community as well as a welcoming facility for visitors. It houses the library, student study space, multipurpose rooms, the Center for Teaching and Learning, food facilities, including a large dining area and space for three vendors, space for a campus store and offices for the departments of Student Affairs and Student Services.

RUSM Students Volunteer to Support US Navy Medical Mission

Another highlight of 2015 was the opportunity for about 900 RUSM students to volunteer to join medical personnel from the US Navy’s hospital ship USNS COMFORT to provide health services to people in Dominica while the ship was docked there between July 28 and Aug. 6. The students were able to get early clinical exposure alongside practicing physicians, and exposure to patients in an underserved healthcare setting. These experiences will contribute to the continued development of important traits good physicians need, including empathy and a sense of service.

Making Clinicals Even More Productive for Our Students

I am very grateful to the colleagues in our clinical team for the careful reviews they have conducted at many clinical sites, and the feedback they have provided to the institutions to make them most productive for our students. They have outlined a week-by-week didactic series in each of the clinical clerkships. This is a tremendous achievement, and one that will greatly benefit our students.

A Record-Setting Year for Residencies

The most exciting news of the year is that RUSM has set another record in the number of residency appointments earned by our graduates, with 830 in 2015, the highest number in our school’s history, even though the last three years, from 2012 to 2014, have all been record-setters for us. This phenomenal trend of continually increasing numbers of successful RUSM graduates is what we work so hard to achieve. We look towards 2016 to face new challenges, ever vigilant for new opportunities.

I wish you all a good holiday season and a very happy New Year.

Tags: Leadership , Clinical Program , Student Services , Academics , USMLE , Residency

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VIEWPOINT: Why Some Students Say They Don't Want to Read Textbooks

December 01, 2015

Iriana Hammell named assistant dean for clinical sciences
Iriana Hammel, MD, FACP, AGSF, assistant dean for clinical sciences

This blog post was written by Iriana Hammel, MD, FACP, AGSF, assistant dean for clinical sciences at Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM).

More and more frequently, students send me email messages complaining about the fact that they have been given reading assignments. Many of them are cringing at the thought of picking up an actual book and reading the required pages, and they are even resistant to the idea of reading the same chapter in an online format. Why bother, they say, when it is much easier to do a search of Up-to-date or read the topic in the Wikipedia page that pops up in a quick search on their iPhone®? Can’t we just give them handouts with short bullet points?

In an era of incredible expansion of readily available internet resources that are at your fingertips, should we still be asking our students to read actual chapters of textbooks? What happened to the independent study that the adult learner used to have to do in order to navigate through the years of undergraduate education? Are the books that we, the older generations of physicians, used to study from now relics that belong in a museum?

I don’t think it’s time for that yet. Those textbooks give us a point of reference that cannot be found in the same measure in the multitude of online sources out there. Our students are not at a stage in their training where they can make informed decisions about which sources are to be trusted and which ones are not. Whether students tell you they extracted an inaccurate piece of information from Dr. Jones’s PowerPoint® presentation or from an obscure internet source, I suspect your answer will be, “Did you read the chapter in Harrison about this condition?” That is because Harrison/ Nelson/Sloane/ Beckman (or whichever the leading textbook in your specialty may be) is the trusted source you have been depending on since you started medical school and that you have continued to rely on and refer students to since you have been an educator. This is because the content is not only very comprehensive, but is, most importantly, reliable.

As physicians and educators, we still see the value of training young minds with the help of our most trusted resources in medicine. We think that the best way to learn is to dive deeply into the topic and read until you understand it, rather than memorize bullet points about it. It is good for students to read a few pages about congestive heart failure (CHF) in the evening, after seeing a patient with CHF in the hospital that morning. It is also critical for students to have read and learned something about CHF before encountering the patient.

“If I skip the reading assignments, is it still possible for me to pass the rotation?” a student asked me recently. The student said that, “It’s hard to read the textbook. It’s so dry, and unrelated.” I am sympathetic but unmoved. My reply to this student was, “Even though I agree that it is ideal to learn the information after seeing a patient with a certain condition, we need to ensure that you have a solid knowledge base going into your core clerkships. The only way to attain a broad base of knowledge is by reading extensively. I can see your point of view, but you will not be able to pass the rotation without completing the reading assignments.”

We need to bring back the passion for reading and learning that motivated us to read and learn, to become the best physicians that we could be and to better help our patients.

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LEADERSHIP: Dr. Stanley White Named Sr. Associate Dean, Dominica Campus

November 05, 2015

Stanley White has been named senior associate dean, Dominica campus, for RUSM
Stanley White, PhD, has been appointed senior associate dean, Dominica campus, for Ross University School of Medicine.

Dr. Stanley White has been appointed to the position of Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) Senior Associate Dean, Dominica Campus. He has served as interim dean since the end of last year. Dr. White joined RUSM in 2010 as a professor of physiology, and became associate dean, Center for Teaching and Learning, in 2013.

Dr. White was awarded a PhD by the University of Manchester, UK in 1986. His research focused on renal anion transport. Subsequently he was awarded a prestigious Beit Memorial Fellowship, which he held in the Department of Cellular & Molecular Physiology at Yale University Medical School. From 1992, in the UK he was supported by a Medical Research Council Senior Fellowship. He then became a senior lecturer at the University of Sheffield where he did research into the cellular and molecular mechanisms of renal potassium secretion. He also taught medical and dental students in all areas of human physiology. At Sheffield, he led a number of innovative programs in undergraduate medical and dental blended learning approaches and was a member of several university committees pertaining to biomedical education at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In 2002 he joined the Faculty of Biological Sciences at the University of Leeds, UK, where he continued his research and teaching.

In the external educational arena, Dr. White has been an external examiner at various universities for several biomedical degree programs and numerous PhD and MD theses. He has acted as a consultant for innovative laboratory teaching in biological sciences courses for the Open University, and was joint coordinator of the annual Wellcome Trust “Molecular Physiology” Practical Workshop from 1999 to 2006. During that time he also served as a scientific panel member of Kidney Research UK, the largest charity in the UK, focusing on basic science and clinical research approaches to kidney disease.

Among his notable accomplishments, Dr. White has reviewed numerous grant applications for external funding providers including MRC, Wellcome Trust and the National Institutes of Health, as well as various medical charities. From 2002 to 2008, Dr. White was associate editor for the international journal Nephron Physiology. He has published numerous papers in internationally peer-reviewed journals as well as articles and book chapters. Dr. White has served on the Council, and as a trustee of the Physiological Society as well as being a member of the society’s Education Sub Committee. He is a member of the Physiological Society, the American Physiological Society and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine.

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ACADEMICS: Dr. Iriana Hammel Named RUSM's Assistant Dean for Clinical Sciences

October 26, 2015

Iriana Hammell named assistant dean for clinical sciences
Iriana Hammel, MD, FACP, AGSF, has been named assistant dean for clinical sciences at Ross University School of Medicine.

Iriana Hammel, MD, FACP, AGSF, has been named assistant dean for clinical sciences at Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM). Dr. Hammel, who has been with RUSM since 2011, is based in Miramar, Florida, where she has served as senior program director of the Internal Medicine Foundations program (IMF). She also teaches an elective in geriatrics to clinical students.

A native of Romania, Dr. Hammel earned her medical degree at Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Bucharest, and came to the US for an internship and residency in internal medicine at Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park, IL, followed by a fellowship in geriatric medicine at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, IL.

“My lifelong dream was to be a doctor,” Dr. Hammel said. “I planned to practice medicine in Romania, but I wanted to train abroad, in the US,” she said. Then, while working in Michigan, she met her future husband and the plan changed. They are now the parents of two daughters.

“This promotion reflects Dr. Hammel’s sustained contribution to our educational programs,” said Dean and Chancellor Joseph A. Flaherty, MD.

Dr. Hammel has authored and presented many academic papers, and is the recipient of numerous awards and honors. She is board certified in geriatric medicine and in internal medicine.

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AWARDS: Ceremonies Held for Students' Academic Achievements

August 03, 2015

Recently, the Interim Senior Associate Dean of Ross University School of Medicine’s (RUSM) Dominica campus Dr. Stanley White and Dr. Paul Abney, assistant dean for educational assessment and associate professor of behavioral sciences, hosted this semester’s Dean’s Honor Roll and Dean’s List awards ceremony. More than 150 students received this distinction for excellent academic performance during the past semester, January – April. 

 

 (From left: Anthony Adetomiwa, left, Dr. Stanley White, Nadia Khosrodad, Sheshadrie Saha, Dr. Paul Abney, and Haytham Aboushi.)

 

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