Ross University Blog

ALUMNI: Ross Alumna is a New Jersey “Top Doc”

July 11, 2017

Ross alumna Nagaeda Jean, MD, FACOG, an obstetrician and gynecologist, is named a 2017 Top Doctor in Montvale, N.J.

According to Top Doctor Awards, the organization specializes in recognizing and commemorating the achievements of today’s most influential and respected doctors in medicine. Dr. Jean’s recognition is based on her education, research contributions, patient reviews, and other quality measures to identify top doctors.

“Using my knowledge to help give my patients the best care and guidance I can, especially my young female patients, is truly gratifying,’ says Dr. Jean. “Also, helping to bring new life into this world is deeply rewarding.”

Practicing for about a decade, Dr. Jean is on staff at Hackensack University Medical Group at Pascack Valley. Her career began at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York where she completed her residency. Dr. Jean graduated from Ross in 2007.

Dr. Jean attributes her successful 10-year career to working hard, treating every patient as if they were a family member and staying humble.

“Ultimately, I would love to have more of a role in education - helping mold the next generation of physicians,” says Dr. Jean when contemplating the next phase of her career.

Dr. Jean is a Fellow of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

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Tags: New Jersey , Alumni

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ALUMNI: Ross Grads Receive Intern of the Year Awards

June 27, 2017


Congratulations to Ross alumni who were recently named "Intern of the Year" at their residency programs. Below is a sample of the awardees: 


Diane Brown, MD

Recognition: Pediatric Intern of the Year
Graduation Year: 2016
Specialty: Pediatrics
Residency Program: Baylor Scott and White in Temple, TX
Hometown: Rochester, MN
Undergraduate Institution: University of Minnesota


“I was not expecting the award. Everyone in my program was very deserving. If I had to pinpoint what made me standout, I would attribute it to my work ethic which I learned while a Ross student.”



Karleigh Ryan Curfman, MD

Recognition: Intern of the Year
Graduation Year: 2016
Specialty: General Surgery
Residency Program: Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center of Duke LifePoint Healthcare in Johnstown, PA
Hometown: Berwick, PA
Undergraduate Institution: The Pennsylvania State University


"I attribute this success of my intern year to knowing that becoming a surgeon was my career goal since a teenager. Keeping my goal in mind and realizing how far I have come already since then, I attempt to continue to raise the bar at every level on every single day to make that end goal of becoming a surgeon in my specialty after my residency and fellowship are a reality.  I know the work I put in every day positions me one step closer to my goal and that is what drives me to keep striving and creates my work ethic – along with the never ending encouragement of my family, fiancé, and close friends, their support is a constant reminder of my ultimate plan."


Daniela Matias Feitosa, MD

Recognition: Intern of the Year and Teacher of the Year
Graduation Year: 2016
Specialty: Pediatrics
Residency Program: Stony Brook University Hospital in Stony Brook, NY
Hometown: Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil
Undergraduate Institution: Gordon College


“I am grateful to Ross, for providing me with a variety of clinical opportunities - preparing me to hit the ground running during my intern year. Furthermore, getting a medical degree from Ross has taught me to fight harder, and to never take no for an answer. I also am grateful to my parents who have always supported me and taught me how to be a hard worker and never settle for less.”


Sean Harrell, MD

 Recognition: Intern of the Year
Graduation year: May 2016
Specialty: Internal Medicine
Residency: Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University in Augusta, GA
Hometown: Augusta, GA
Undergraduate Institution: Georgia College and State University


“Receiving this award is incredibly humbling as I am honored to work with terrific physicians on a daily basis and to be a part of a culture that continues to push me. This award would not be possible without the help and trust of my fellow residents and dedicated attending physicians at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. Equally, I am truly grateful for my education and experience that Ross University provided me, as this allowed me to cultivate my medical skills and work ethic while pursuing my passion. From fellow students, residents, professors, and attending physicians, this award is a product of all of their diligence and concern for my well-being and education.”


Alexander Williams, MD

Recognition: Intern of the Year 2016-2017
Graduated Year: 2016
Specialty: Internal Medicine
Residency Program: Virginia Tech Carilion Clinic in Roanoke, VA.
Hometown: Sarasota, FL
Undergraduate Institution: University of South Florida

"I attribute this award to the training I received from residents during my third and fourth years of medical school as well as the teaching given by current senior residents at my program. I feel that a big reason for receiving this award was being proactive in writing case reports and getting involved with research early in residency. Being a team player is instrumental for success in residency.”


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Tags: Alumni , Florida , Georgia , New York , Pennsylvania , Minnesota , Texas

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ALUMNI: Alumna Named EVP at Nonprofit that Serves Mentally Ill and Substance Users

May 10, 2017


Ross alumna Sharyn Comeau, MD, was recently appointed Executive Vice President of Medical Affairs at Monarch, a statewide nonprofit that provides support and empowers people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental illness and substance use issues.

The newly created leadership role will ensure that all medical administrative processes for Monarch’s behavioral health locations across North Carolina meet the ever-evolving healthcare standards and provide excellent care for the people Monarch supports.

“Dr. Comeau has truly excelled over the three years she served as a psychiatrist at our Charlotte behavioral health office. She brings a wealth of knowledge and over 21 years of experience to this new role,” said Monarch CEO, Dr. Peggy Terhune. 

As Executive Vice President of Medical Affairs, Dr. Comeau will be responsible for providing medical leadership at the community and state level, as well as internally at Monarch. As part of Monarch’s strategic plan, she also will help the organization foster positive relationships with local stakeholders, legislators, potential donors, and physician groups as it relates to behavioral health services.

“I’m elated to be part of Monarch’s leadership team and be a driving force to addressing the wide range of community behavioral health needs. As Monarch continues to grow and the healthcare industry becomes more complex, I’m excited to be part of the team that will ensure that our offices are offering treatment of the highest medical standards,” said Dr. Comeau.

Dr. Comeau is certified by the American Board of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. In addition to her medical degree earned at Ross, she completed her medical training in child and adolescent psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard University and in general psychiatry at the University of Connecticut/Institute of Living. She also holds a Master of Arts from New York University and a Bachelor of Science from Pace University.

Established in 1958, Monarch is a not-for-profit organization that provides support statewide to thousands of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental illness and substance use disorders. The company has earned Person-Centered Excellence Accreditation with Distinction by The Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL) – and is among a small and elite group worldwide to receive this designation. Monarch is certified by The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services as a Critical Access Behavioral Health Agency (CABHA) and operates The Arc of Stanly County, which is a chapter of The Arc of North Carolina and The Arc of the United States.

Tags: Alumni , North Carolina , Nonprofit

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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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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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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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Tags: Residency , Alumni , Connecticut

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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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Tags: Residency , Alumni , Florida

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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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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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THE TOP 16: Handpicked Ross Stories from 2016

December 29, 2016

A 40-year-old mother and wife who suffered a tragic loss and went on to earn her medical degree. A Canadian judo expert (and former Olympian) who traded athletic gear for a white coat. A third-year resident who almost didn’t apply to medical school at all—because he didn’t fit his own preset notions of what a doctor was.

These stories (and more) make up the broader Ross story, and we hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as we’ve enjoyed telling it. So as a follow-up to 2015’s Ross best-of list, we’ve combed through dozens of stories published this year and collected some of the posts that engaged our visitors the most. Check them out below—and thanks for reading and sharing our story!

Without further ado and in no particular order, the top 16 from 2016:

This Alum, Now a Neurologist, Wouldn’t Take No for an Answer. Good Thing She Didn’t. Perseverance, personality and a little help from her dad. That’s how 2003 Ross graduate Amy Jarvis, MD, got to where she is now. A vascular neurologist for the Miami-Dade Neuroscience Institute, her medical career spans more than a decade—Jarvis has evaluated NFL athletes for concussion and possible neurological trauma, served as director of stroke for two separate healthcare facilities, and more. And she isn’t accustomed to backing down from a challenge—so years ago, when someone told her she had no shot of getting into medical school, she didn’t take no for an answer. Read her story here.

The Top 7 Survival Skills Medical Students Need to Succeed. As a medical school student, what skills do you need to perform well in the basic sciences part of the program? Ross Dean Joseph A. Flaherty, MD, sat down with Vijay Rajput, MD—Professor and Chairman of Medicine and Medical Director, Office for Student Professional Development—to help answer that question. During their discussion, the duo identified the top seven survival skills needed to thrive during the early, formative years of medical study. Check out the tips.

One Grad’s Musings on Dominica, Residency, and His 'Amazing' Ross Experience. There’s this quote that 2008 graduate Andrew Medvedovsky really likes: If you don’t demand perfection from yourself, nobody else will. The person giving the quote was Medvedovsky’s mentor—Dr. Maged Hamza, who directed Medvedovsky’s interventional pain management fellowship at Virginia Commonwealth University. And the sentiment has served him well in both his education and practice. In a far-reaching interview, Medvedovsky muses on life in Dominica, clinical rotations in the US, old preconceptions he had about Ross, and what it really means to be a doctor. Read his interview here. 

Ross Presents 2016 Residency Results and Highlights. More than 785 Ross graduates attained residencies in 2016. You can view the list here, but we decided to take things a step further with this post and really dive into some of the individual placements and specialties. If you’re looking for more detail on some of the great residencies attained by our graduates in 2016, this post is for you. Read it here.

Grad Goes from Olympics to Sports Medicine Fellowship in Canada. Sure, people make all sorts of career changes to follow their dreams of practicing medicine—but it’s pretty rare that one of our graduates can list “former Olympic athlete” as their prior occupation. But that’s exactly the case with 2013 Ross graduate Keith Morgan, MD. But post-2008, he was “happy where I was in my sports life.” It was time to move on to a different career, but preferably something that kept him in sports. That’s where Ross came in. Read Keith’s story.

How Ross Grad Lilian Sarfati Impressed on Day 1 of Residency (and Beyond). There’s this story that 2012 graduate Lilian Sarfati, MD, likes to share about her first day of residency. Sarfati and seven of her resident colleagues get pulled into a room. It’s just them, one nurse, and a patient on a gurney having a heart attack. It’s a patient safety simulation, to be clear—structured to help residents learn to work together as an organized healthcare team—and not a real patient. What happened next ended up really impressing that exercise’s coordinator—and made her proud to be a Ross student. Read Lilian’s story here.

Debunking the “Doctor Type.” Sometimes, your greatest obstacles can be in your own head. A prime example: Ross grad Dr. Kyle Evers. Throughout high school, he had a strong interest in the sciences and a natural desire to help people. Yet when thinking about his future career, medicine barely crossed his mind as a possibility. Why? He didn’t fit his own notion of the doctor type. “In my mind, doctors were people who never had to study—those kids who got straight A’s without even trying,” Dr. Evers explains. “That wasn’t me. So I didn’t really consider myself a future doctor.” But now, it’s safe to say his views on who can be a doctor have expanded. Wondering what he’s been up to? Read his story and find out.

An Unconventional Path to Practicing Psychiatry. On her daily walk to the emergency room where she works in Manhattan, Kendra Campbell, MD '10 takes pictures of things that inspire her along the way—a rusty pay phone, an abandoned Barbie doll, the rose-patterned skeleton of an old sofa. She likes finding beauty in things you wouldn’t necessarily think are beautiful, she says—an outlook she brings to her job as Assistant Director of the Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. “What I like about being a psychiatrist in the emergency room is that you see people at their breaking points,” says Dr. Campbell. “I have this unique opportunity to make a profound impact on their lives. And that is a very precious, fulfilling thing.” Read her story.

MERP Student Inspires Through Blogging (and Makes Dean’s List, Too). “I average about 14 emails a week from prospective students,” says Emma Cronk, a native of a small rural town called Parham in Ontario. “And that’s not counting my Instagram messages!” Is Emma Cronk an admissions counselor? No—she’s a fourth-semester student at Ross. But since the blog where she chronicles her medical school journey took off among prospective students, she’s found herself a go-to resource for hopefuls asking about her experience, seeking advice and simply wanting to know more about her. She started her blog in fall 2014 as a way to keep in touch with family after she entered the Medical Education Readiness Program (MERP) prior to beginning medical school. Read her story.

Alumna Shares the Path She Designed to Obtain Her Preferred Residency. Ross grad Fusun Dikengil, MD has been working as an internal medicine resident at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) for several months now. Dikengil landed her first choice residency, keeping her within the vicinity of where she resides. However, Dikengil obtaining her residency top pick was no happy coincidence. She was very strategic about her clinical training experiences to increase her chances of obtaining her preferred residency appointment. How’d she do it? Find out here.

The Patient Experience That Drove This Student to Attend Med School. It was the patient Mike Farrell couldn’t help—even though he knew what type of treatment was needed—that ultimately convinced him to enroll in medical school. Until then, Farrell was loving his career as a chiropractor. But then he got a phone call from a man whose wife needed immediate care. Farrell took the appointment, examined his patient when she arrived, and knew exactly what she needed. But chiropractic’s scope of practice is limited. Farrell couldn’t prescribe necessary treatments. Only a medical doctor could. Now a fourth-year student at Ross, Farrell is well on his way to solving that problem.  Read his story.

From Haiti to Minnesota: Alum Set to Begin Surgery Residency at Mayo Clinic. “It’s like a boulder came off my back,” said Marc Olivier Duverseau when describing the sense of relief he felt after obtaining a residency position. Duverseau will attend the preliminary surgery program at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Duverseau was born and raised in Haiti and arrived to the United States at age 18 to attend the University of Tampa. Read his story.

Ross Grads Earn Chief Resident Spots for 2016-2017 Residency Year. Hundreds of Ross graduates started residency training in July 2016. In the meantime, many of our graduates who are already deep in their training have earned the distinction of being named chief residents for the 2016-2017 year. Chief residents are entrusted with developing clinical rotation schedules, performing administrative duties, and supervising junior residents, among other responsibilities. Check out the list.

40-Year-Old Med Student Overcomes Obstacles, Inspires Others.

You’re almost 40. Who would decide to go to medical school at this age? That's just one example of the crass opposition that Joyce Haynes Busch, MD (‘16) remembers getting when she decided, at age 38, to apply to medical school. “They didn’t know me, and already they labeled me as a failure,” she remembers. Unwilling to let the naysayers stop her and committed to achieving her dream of becoming a physician—despite suffering a tragic personal loss—Haynes Busch decided to press on in a very public way. Read her story.

Alum Earns Radiology Residency in Spite of “So-Called Disability”
“For those of us with so-called disabilities, if you persevere long enough, eventually your weakness will become your strength.”

That’s Ross graduate Johnathon Stephens, speaking about his own personal challenges and how he leveraged them to succeed as a Ross graduate. Stephens is hard of hearing, and coordinated with Ross to get the resources he needed to earn his degree, including making arrangements for sign language interpreters from Hands in Motion during his clerkships for clinical training. Stephens, who has returned to his hometown of Peoria, IL for his radiology residency, advises medical students to “never give up.” It’s a mantra he has applied to his own life. Read about his Ross experience.

Alum Tells His Couples Match Experience with Wife, Ross Alumna
Ross alumnus Brian Kendall, MD, Class of 2013, was chief resident in the Department of Emergency Medicine at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas from 2015-2016. He had an interesting reason for pursuing his degree at Ross: He and his wife had been married for a year prior to applying for medical school—and they wanted to attend the same school.

Ross went out of its way, he said, to make them feel welcome as a couple. They interviewed on the same day, and met with Ross admissions associates both individually as a couple. “It was a great experience, and we knew that we would fit in well,” he said. Read his story.

Looking for more? Check out the Ross Blog!

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ALUMNI: Endocrinologist on Treating Diabetes and the Ross Experience

December 19, 2016

We recently spoke with alum Karla Arce, MD (‘10), to talk about her work as a practicing endocrinologist and her time at Ross University School of Medicine. Dr. Arce, who was born in Peru, earned her undergraduate degree in biology at Florida International University, and her master’s degree in biomedical sciences at Barry University, both in Miami. The following is an excerpt from our Q&A with her.

Ross: Where you are practicing currently, and what types of patients do you see?
Dr. Arce: I’m currently employed by Mount Sinai Medical Center, and mainly work in their satellite, multi-specialty clinic in Coral Gables, Florida. The majority of patients I see are for diabetes and thyroid disorders. I also see patients with pituitary and adrenal disorders. 

Is diabetes preventable? Is it on the rise in the US?
Type 2 diabetes is a preventable disease. Type 1 diabetes unfortunately is not. Diabetes is growing at an epidemic rate in the United States; nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes, and out of that number, nearly 95% have type 2.

What advice do you give to pre-diabetic or diabetic patients?
I advise patients to lose about 7% of their weight if they are overweight or obese. I recommend moderate-intensity exercise such as brisk walking for 30 minutes a day, five days a week. I also tell patients to stop smoking, reduce carbohydrate intake, eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and drink less alcohol.

Tell me about your experience at Ross. How did you like life in Dominica?
Overall, I would say my experience at Ross was a positive one. Moving to Dominica was my first time away from home and the first semester was very challenging, but I met great people along the way and we helped one another. The campus had some technological advances and it was in the process of expanding but we had the basic necessities and support we needed. For my clinical rotations I got the opportunity to live in different states, such as New York, New Jersey, Georgia and Florida, and I learned from different health care systems and worked with great physicians. I worked hard to excel during my clinical rotations and pre-matched at my top residency program at Cleveland Clinic Florida. It's up to students to make the most of the opportunity.

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ALUMNI: Ross Grad Earns Award for Leadership of Residency Program

December 09, 2016

Each year, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) honors outstanding residency program directors with the Parker J. Palmer Courage to Teach Award. This award recognizes those who find innovative ways to teach residents and provide quality care, while remaining connected to the initial empathetic impulse felt by so many physicians.

The award’s namesake believed that good teaching requires courage—the courage to explore the unknown and challenge convention, as well as the courage to give it one’s all despite an all too common lack of recognition. This year, that courage is exemplified by award recipient and Ross alumnus Curtis Whitehair, MD (‘00).

Dr. Whitehair is the associate medical director of regional physiatry at MedStar National Rehabilitation Network, where he’s responsible for overseeing all ambulatory physician services. He is the vice chair of education in the Department of Rehabilitation at Georgetown University Medical Center and associate professor of clinical rehabilitation medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He is also the program director of the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital/National Rehabilitation Hospital (GUH/NRH) PM&R Residency Training Program—it was in this role, specifically, that he was recognized by the ACGME.

When Whitehair first came on board as director, the residency program was on probation. Poster presentations were rare. Today, under Dr. Whitehair’s leadership, the program has transformed into one that graduates top-scoring residents—this year, 11 of Dr. Whitehair’s 18 residents scored above the 90th percentile, with 10 of those scoring above the 96th percentile, in the Self-Assessment Exam for Residents (SAE-R).

“We have at least three papers that are being published this year from our residents,” he adds. “Two years ago, we had 40 poster abstracts accepted and, in the last five years, we’ve had more poster abstracts accepted than any other entity at national meetings. This award has my name on it, but it’s a reflection of our program, the incredible team of people in it who are willing to try new ideas, and all that the residents have accomplished as a result.”

Here are just some of the reasons why Dr. Whitehair was recognized with the Courage to Teach Award.

He Looks Ahead.

“Too often, we develop curriculum that gets you through your residency training,” Dr. Whitehair says. “But if all I’ve done is gotten you through, you may not be prepared for what happens five years after you graduate. We want our residents to be prepared for that, too, so that’s why I tell applicants when they’re interviewing that we developed what I call a horizon curriculum.”

Dr. Whitehair’s “horizon curriculum” looks at the technology that may be at physicians’ fingertips later in their careers, and starts to implement it in residency. For example, five years ago when musculoskeletal ultrasounds arrived at the forefront, Whitehair and his team revamped their program to include a month-long rotation on the technology.

Similarly, Dr. Whitehair created a cancer rehabilitation program before it became mainstream. “We are willing to jump on those bandwagons early, and really immerse ourselves in those opportunities for our residents,” he adds. “It helps our residents stay ahead of the curve in what’s coming for them when they graduate.”

He Trains for the Real World.

In addition to integrating emerging technologies into training, Dr. Whitehair also makes sure to prepare residents for the realities of practice. One way he’s done that is by establishing a continuity clinic that’s one of a kind.

During their second year, residents learn about a patient under the guidance of a fourth-year resident, and stick with that patient throughout the duration of the three-year program. By the time they’ve reached their fourth year, they’re guiding the next class of second-year residents on that same patient. “The residents see these patients as theirs, and if that patient calls, they will get paged while they’re on the floor regardless of what service they’re on,” says Dr. Whitehair. “And, if one team member is away, the other team members must find a way to cover. That’s how it works in the real world.”

But the payoff of this training technique isn’t limited to the residents. Dr. Whitehair also points out that patients get better care when there’s continuity. Not only do patients feel more comfortable with doctors they have gotten to know (no revolving door here!), but outcomes can be improved when residents develop such an intimate understanding of the patient in this way. “There are things you don’t put into a medical record, like family dynamics, which can have an impact on care,” says Dr. Whitehair. “It is a huge advantage to the patient and the doctor when there is a yearlong transition period of onboarding a new resident to the case, under the guidance of the existing resident.”

He’s Tackling Industry Challenges.

Beginning with their first year in the program, residents are trained in the science behind quality improvement and patient safety. This training evolves throughout the residency, to include “doing more than the minimum requirements,” says Dr. Whitehair. “The big issue is answering the question: What can we do to keep patients safer while they’re in the hospital?”

Dr. Whitehair starts with leaving the lecture hall. “There are guidelines that say you should teach residents about transition of care, for example, and some programs offer one lecture and check that box,” he says. “We have the residents work on projects about how to effectively do that transition of care. They aren’t just sitting in a lecture. They are working on projects that have an outcome in these areas.”

He Leads by Example.

Sensitivity and compassion for patients is something that, one might argue, cannot be taught. But Dr. Whitehair sets an example for his residents that he hopes will set the bar for patient interactions. “It starts with how we treat the residents themselves,” he explains. His office is right next door to the resident lounge, and he meets with them once per week. He strives to be involved with the residents, rather than dictating from an ivory tower. “I am a very open person, and I want them to know they can get in touch with me and that I’ll listen,” he says. “I want to show them that I personally care, and that we as an institution care, and that hopefully instills in them that this is the care you should give your patients.”

He Keeps Momentum.

“A lot of programs out there find the secret sauce and keep it that way, but if you actually look at the science and business world, the top companies don’t usually stay at the top forever,” Dr. Whitehair says. “We are always looking for ways to improve and take this program to a new level. We’re not chasing awards. We’re just trying to make this a really great place for people to learn, and I think that’s what we’re doing. And I want to keep that momentum going.”  

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EXPERT: Alum Shares Travel Tips for People with Diabetes

November 23, 2016

Planning ahead can save you lots of stress when it comes to managing your diabetes while traveling.

Planning ahead can save you lots of stress when it comes to managing your diabetes while traveling.

It’s officially the holiday season in the U.S., which for many people means one thing—travel. And for those who have diabetes, it can be a real headache: About 10 percent of people with diabetes experience problems with diabetic control while traveling.

Fortunately, a little extra planning can help keep potential issues at bay. For National Diabetes Awareness Month, endocrinologist Michael Marchese, MD (Ross Class of 2009) shared travel tips for people with diabetes—whether you’re going by air, sea or anything in between. Here’s a sampling:

  • Before you go: If you’ll be crossing time zones, you may need to adjust the timing of your insulin injections. Insulin pump users may consider changing to injections while on vacation, especially if vacationing at the beach, since not all pumps are waterproof and the sun may heat up the insulin inside it.
  • Packing for a flight: Don’t store your insulin in your checked luggage: The cargo hold can get very cold or even freeze, which would make the insulin ineffective.
  • Going somewhere warm? Avoid walking around barefoot on beaches. Sharp shells, bottle caps and similar items can cut your feet, which is a particular threat to diabetics who have peripheral neuropathy, a condition that results in a lack of sensation on the bottom of the feet. Without feeling, a cut could go unnoticed until it’s infected.

Read the full article at

Dr. Marchese is board certified in internal medicine. After graduating from Ross University School of Medicine, he completed a residency in internal medicine at Stamford Hospital, where he was Chief Resident, followed by a fellowship in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at Albany Medical Center. He practices at the Diabetes, Osteoporosis and Metabolism Center of Phelps Medical Associates in Sleepy Hollow, NY.

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ALUMNI: Debunking the 'Doctor Type'

November 16, 2016

Kyle Evers, MD (Ross Class of 2014), internal medicine resident at Memorial Health in Savannah, GA

Kyle Evers, MD (Ross Class of 2014), internal medicine resident at Memorial Health in Savannah, GA

Sometimes, your greatest obstacles can be in your own head.

Take Ross grad Dr. Kyle Evers. Throughout high school, he had a strong interest in the sciences and a natural desire to help people. Yet when thinking about his future career, medicine barely crossed his mind as a possibility.

Why? He didn’t fit his own notion of “the doctor type.”

“In my mind, doctors were people who never had to study—those kids who got straight A’s without even trying,” Dr. Evers explains. “That wasn’t me. So I didn’t really consider myself a future doctor.”

Today, Dr. Evers is a third-year resident physician in internal medicine at Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, Georgia. It’s safe to say his views on who can be a doctor have expanded—along with his confidence in himself.

Discovering His Passion

When I ask Dr. Evers why he chose internal medicine, he says he loves the diversity of it—and begins ticking off all the different specialties he enjoys. Rheumatology. Nephrology. Gastroenterology. Cardiology. Endocrinology.

“My intern friends would joke that I wanted to specialize in everything, because when starting each new rotation, I would change my mind and decide that one was my favorite,” Dr. Evers says with a laugh. “I just wanted to do everything.”

It might seem hard to believe that someone with such an obvious affinity for medicine could have ever doubted his potential in the field. But Dr. Evers had discounted medicine since his teenage years, and it wouldn’t resurface until he was majoring in biology at LaGrange College. Recognizing his talent, a few of his professors encouraged him to reconsider the career he had long since dismissed.

“I kind of laughed it off at first, but then it became this recurring idea,” says Dr. Evers.

So he did an internship with a general surgeon in his college town. Then, he got a job as an orderly in the operating room, where he worked during his last year and a half at college. “That sealed it,” says Dr. Evers. “I knew I wanted to be a doctor.”

A Diverse Perspective

Dr. Evers chose Ross for a few reasons, including residency placement rates and overall reputation. In addition, he was intrigued by the option to choose either a single location for his clinical clerkships or experience multiple hospitals throughout the country.

“I love to travel and being able to experience new cultures, so being able to do that while getting a medical degree was a no-brainer,” says Dr. Evers.

Sure enough, during his clinical year, Dr. Evers took advantage of the option—getting a taste for medicine in Miami, New York, Cape Cod, Connecticut and Michigan.

His favorite? Miami. (“I love the culture and the bilingual nature of everything—and there’s amazing food.”)

“You can learn medicine anywhere if you’re willing to study. The real difference is the environment and the experiences,” says Dr. Evers. “That was the key benefit for me. If you work at only one place, you may think every hospital operates like that, but if you move around, you quickly realize how different hospital systems are. And each system has its strengths.”

Making a Home

His rich background across many hospitals helps him appreciate his residency hospital, Memorial Health, that much more.

In particular, Dr. Evers was struck by the “family atmosphere” he sensed at Memorial. During his interview, he was impressed by the interaction between residents and attending physicians. Not only did they stay after meetings to chat, they clearly made an effort to get together outside of work as well. 

“It was very comfortable, very warm,” he says. “It’s a very personal environment.”

That environment is good not only for having friends outside of work—it’s a key factor in helping the hospital run smoothly. Dr. Evers credits the friendly atmosphere with fostering open communication that’s led to great relationships across residency lines.

“Here, the staff is dedicated to patient care and diligent in their jobs,” says Dr. Evers. “It takes a lot of pressure off residents.” 

And it’s clear that the feeling goes both ways.

“Dr. Evers is one of our most exceptional residents,” says Dr. Timothy Connelly, associate residency program director at Memorial Health. “I’m grateful for his awesome contributions to our program.”

The Real Doctor Type

Today, that high school student who thought he wasn’t the “doctor type” seems a world away from this dedicated physician who’s enamored with his work and singularly focused on patients.

Dr. Evers says he can’t imagine himself doing anything else.

“Even if I had a billion dollars and didn’t have to work, I’d still want to do this job. I can’t think of anything more perfect for me,” he says.

In fact, while some of his medical school classmates are earning their MBAs or have an eye towards management in the future, Dr. Evers couldn’t be happier exactly where he is.

“I don’t have administrative aspirations,” he says. “I just like taking care of people.”

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ALUMNI: 40-Year-Old Med Student Overcomes Obstacles, Inspires Others

November 15, 2016

Joyce Haynes Busch, Ross Class of 2016

Joyce Haynes Busch, Ross Class of 2016

  •  “You’re almost 40. Who would decide to go to medical school at this age?”
  • “You should be thinking about retirement.”
  • “I see you’re wearing a wedding ring. I don’t see how you can go to medical school with a family.”
  • “You military people think you can do anything. The fact of the matter is, you can’t.”

This was just some of the crass opposition that Joyce Haynes Busch, MD (‘16) remembers getting when she decided, at age 38, to apply to medical school. “They didn’t know me, and already they labeled me as a failure,” she remembers.

In fact, the opposite was true.

After serving in the United States Air Force, Haynes Busch built herself a successful career as a mortgage broker. But when she got married and moved from the Dallas, Texas area to Houston, she realized she would need to restart her business from the ground up in a brand new city. Considering she’d have to go back to square one as a broker, she figured she might as well begin at square one in the career she always dreamed of: medicine. Her new husband, who at the time had two young children from a previous marriage, supported her in her decision to start taking medical school prerequisites full-time.

Then, a devastating blow: Haynes Busch’s husband received a terminal cancer diagnosis. “I was taking care of him, looking after the two boys, and taking classes at the same time,” she says. “He passed before I was accepted to Ross.”

Pressing On to Achieve Her Dream

Unwilling to let the naysayers stop her and committed to achieving her dream of becoming a physician, Haynes Busch decided to press on—in a very public way. “I thought I’d document my journey on a blog, and prove the opposition wrong,” she says. “And, maybe motivate myself along the way.”

In hundreds of posts, Haynes Busch documents her path on the blog she calls "A 40-Year-Old Medical Student.” Her earliest posts are dated 2008, when she first started meeting with admissions counselors and taking prerequisites, and it follows her path taking the MCAT, applying and becoming accepted to Ross University School of Medicine, her journey through medical school, and, finally, matching as a family medicine resident at the University of Arkansas earlier this year. She ends nearly every post with a call to action: “Now go live your dreams!”

Why? “I have found that so many people find so many excuses why they can’t,” she says. “I have encountered so many obstacles in my own path: taking care of my husband who did ultimately pass, adopting two sons, meeting opposition about going to medical school. So, here I am, trying to do all this and at the same time live my dream. I’m determined to live that dream.

“My message is that you cannot sit back and let excuses stop you,” she continues. “I started telling readers to live their dreams because you must love your life. Whether it’s being a schoolteacher or taking a painting class, whatever your dream is, go and do it. You only live once and you must not take it for granted. As I once told my uncle who was worried about money: I have my husband’s wallet. I have his shoes. I have all of his clothes. You cannot take it with you. You have to live for today, because tomorrow is not guaranteed.” 

And She's Just Getting Started

This message resonates with readers from all over the world. Some tell her that they’ve been following her story for years; others report stumbling on the blog and binge-reading all of her posts in just a few days. But, now that she’s graduated, the blog platform doesn’t quite seem to fit. After all, she is no longer a medical student, as the title suggests.

Haynes Busch says her message may find a home in a new blog, or she may start pursuing speaking engagements at women’s conferences or high schools. But, no matter how she chooses to move forward, Haynes Busch is committed to healing the community through medicine and through her story, she says, “which is a story of victory and triumph and overcoming obstacles...and I’m just getting started.”

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ALUMNI: Grad Named Resident of the Month (in Her First Month of Residency!)

October 27, 2016

Alumna Jackline Grace was named Resident of the Month in the first month of her family medicine residency at San Joaquin General Hospital in California.

Alumna Jackline Grace was named Resident of the Month in the first month of her family medicine residency at San Joaquin General Hospital in California.

During her first month of residency at San Joaquin General Hospital in California, Ross University School of Medicine alumna Jackline Grace was awarded a certificate of recognition and was named Resident of the Month in the Family Medicine Residency Program in August.

Jackline chose Family Medicine because, she said, “During my family medicine rotation, I enjoyed seeing the miracle of life in my pregnant patients, delighted in the laughter of children and the wisdom in my geriatric patients. I was fortunate to interact with different populations of people, those with and those without health insurance, realizing that I had become an advocate for providing access to health care.”

Congratulations, Dr. Grace!

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ALUMNI: Surgeon Performs Successful Breast Cancer Operation

October 07, 2016

Photo: Courtesy of The Monett Times

Photo: Courtesy of The Monett Times

Ross Alumnus Armin Kamyab, MD, is featured in The Monett Times for successfully completing a double mastectomy on a Missouri patient who is now cancer-free. Dr. Kamyab's patient noted how she was “impressed” by his care and “comfortable with him from day one.”

Read the full story and note the common warning signs for breast cancer below:

Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer by the American Cancer Society

The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. A painless, hard mass that has irregular edges is more likely to be cancerous, but breast cancers can be tender, soft, or rounded. They can even be painful. For this reason, it is important to have any new breast mass or lump or breast change checked by a health care professional experienced in diagnosing breast diseases.  

More Background on Dr. Armin Kamyab, MD

Read this previous story about Dr. Kamyab when he was chief resident in the surgery department at Providence Hospital in Michigan.

Armin Kamyab, MD, a fifth year general surgery resident at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Mich. deals with stressful situations on a daily basis. As chief resident, he not only manages complex cases, but also has responsibility for helping other surgical residents develop their skills in the operating room. On his most stressful days he draws upon his experience as a medical student at Ross. More



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ALUMNI: Meet Pathology Resident Marilyn Nedumcheril, MD

September 19, 2016

Ross Alumna Marilyn Nedumcheril, MD, is currently a fourth-year pathology resident at Columbia University Medical Center in New York and will begin a surgical pathology fellowship with the institution in 2017.

Dr. Nedumcheril, a graduate of Temple University, is proud of her choice to pursue medicine. She was once a director at a sleep disorder center where she administered studies, she described it as “just a job.” However now, Dr. Nedumcheril says with confidence that the investments she’s made in time, money, energy and relationships was well worth it. She now has a career and one that she’ll be “happy to be working in for the next 30 years and more.”

Read about Dr. Nedumcheril’s experience below.

Ross: Why did you choose medicine?

Nedumcheril: I'd wanted to become a physician since as early as I can remember. Actually, my first grade teacher wrote in the year book about a student who had longed to be a cardiologist since the first time that she met her. Later, I learned she was talking about me! Though, my interest in medicine has changed since then. I'm not a cardiologist, my specialty is pathology.

I've always looked up to physicians and I've been interested in the human body. That’s why I chose medicine. 

Ross: Is it tough returning to school after having entered the workforce?

Nedumcheril: Going back to school can be very difficult after you've been working for a while. You get used to working. It's nice to have a regular pay check, it's nice to have your life – your routine. Deciding to attend medical school is like putting a pause on your life. Once you start medical school, basically, medicine is the most important thing in your life.

Ross: What would you say to someone who has the passion for medicine, but they're afraid? They fear starting over.

Nedumcheril: For those who are afraid of going into medicine for whatever reasons, I would say, just do it. If that's your passion, pursue it. 

How did you learn about Ross?

Nedumcheril: When I worked at a hospital in Philadelphia, some of the physicians were from Ross. After looking into the school and considering the success of the physicians I knew and that of the other graduates, I thought it would be a good fit for me.

Ross: What was your experience like in Dominica?

Nedumcheril: It was a great experience living in Dominica. The friends that I've made are my friends for life now. The teachers were amazing. The island itself is beautiful. There's so much to do there - when you can find time when you're not studying. The experience was very positive, and I think being able to live in a country like Dominica, you can live anywhere. 

What was clinical training in the United States like after you finished with the basic sciences portion of your medical education in Dominica?

Nedumcheril: The curriculum at Ross actually prepared me for clinical clerkships very well. From my perspective, all of the subjects we learned and the way we were taught is exactly like what’s taught at US medical schools. So, I felt very prepared during my clinical training. And, when I actually went to residency I knew everything I needed to know - I had a good foundation.

Ross: Tell me a bit about your clinical training experience.

Nedumcheril: So, one of the great aspects of Ross is that you get to do the clinical clerkships in different areas, if you prefer to conduct them that way. I chose to spread out my clerkships, just to have more experience at various hospitals and locations. I wanted to see how different hospitals operated. 

How did you come to specialize in pathology?  

Nedumcheril: I had been interested in pathology because my mom's a forensic chemist, and so I'd been exposed to forensic pathology before coming to medical school - the interest was always there. When I was at Ross, the pathology instructors were amazing – they really, really were. They just enhanced my interest in pathology more. Ultimately, I did a clerkship at Saint Agnes Hospital, where I had a very good experience there too. I was very independent. The pathologists really respected my opinions and wanted to know my differentials. All of that led me to focus on pathology. 

Ross: Explain how you prepared for the National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP) match process.  

Nedumcheril: The match really was not a problem for me. It was just another application to complete. Ross prepared me for everything I needed to go into the match. I had the clinical clerkships, strong recommendations, and a good idea of what cities I wanted to live in because I had moved around a lot during med school. So, the match process actually wasn't really too bad. I didn't have the same anxiety I think that most people have when they go into the match. 

How many programs did you interview for and did you get your top choice residency?  

Nedumcheril: So for pathology, I interviewed for about 10, and I got my second choice. 

Have you experienced misconceptions about the quality of your education because you’ve trained outside of the United States?

Nedumcheril: Initially, the fact that I’ve received my education abroad is always in the background. So you just have to be better. Eventually, people forget that you're an international medical graduate. They realize you're just as capable, you know the same things, you perform the same way. 

What would you say to someone who's thinking about pursuing a career in medicine?  

Nedumcheril: For people going into medicine or considering it, I think they should definitely look around and try to shadow a physician. They should see what the lifestyle is like, what the job is like. I think you should really look into what schools you want to attend.

Ross: What would you say to someone who is considering Ross?

Nedumcheril: You should go where you think you'll be happy, where your personality fits. Ross worked out well for me because it's a recognized school.

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RESIDENCY: Alum Earns Radiology Residency by way of Art School in Italy

September 12, 2016

Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy

Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy

Ross alumnus Rob Forcella, MD, recently began an internal medicine residency at Nassau University Medical Center and is slated to begin his second post graduate year in a radiology residency program at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

Hear from alumni at our New Brunswick Information Seminar on Oct. 27. Read more and sign up here.
However, Forcella’s road to residency was anything but typical. Indeed, his journey started out like most. Forcella was a pre-med student at Farleigh Dickinson University, but that is where the traditional route ended. Forcella went on to art school at the Academy of Applied Art of Naples (L'Accademia Di Belle Arti Di Napoli) in Italy. The beginning of his career includes experience in 3-D animation and the bulk of his professional work was sculpting.

“Medicine, anatomy and human form and function has always been an interest of mine,” said Forcella when asked what prompted him to make the transition from sculpting to medicine. “I don’t see it as an absolute career change. I’ve done anatomy illustration professionally for many years, even throughout art school. So, medicine, anatomy and anatomy physiology was always there.”

Knowing he didn’t take the direct route to medical school and that he would be an “older” candidate (as self-described by Forcella who is in his mid-thirties) at the time of graduation, it made the news of him receiving a residency that much more rewarding.

“Very relieved,” said Forcella when reflecting on the moment he learned about the residency appointments he earned. “It was a sense of relief, a sense of accomplishment.”

Forcella’s advice to students beginning their medical education: Don’t look for instant gratification.

“If instant gratification is what you are looking for, get out now. You’ve chosen a field that requires a lot of work – years. You’re in it for the long haul,” said Forcella. “Know your long-term goals and buckle down, do what has to be done. You will get greater reward from it.”

Meet NJ alumni at our New Brunswick Information Seminar on Oct. 27. Read more and sign up here.

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