January 12, 2017
Ross alumnus Ray King, MD, PhD, with his family.
On January 13, 2017 the traditional White Coat ceremony will transform the new cohort of RUSM students into doctors-in-training. Watch the livestream of the White Coat ceremony on the Dominica campus at exmediasite.rossmed.edu.dm/webcast. The event is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. EST, and the livestream will be available from 12:30 p.m. EST.
The keynote speaker will be alumnus Ray King, MD, PhD, who earned his MD from RUSM in 2010 and his PhD in Anatomy and Neurobiology from Boston University School of Medicine in 2002. He is a colorectal surgeon at University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.
He completed a post-doctoral fellowship with a focus on neural stem cell transplant and molecular imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Prior to obtaining his MD, Dr. King taught anatomy at several medical schools in the Boston area and abroad. He also served as Assistant Professor of Anatomy at RUSM from 2004 -2008. During the last two years as a faculty member, he concurrently attended RUSM as a medical student. Dr. King obtained a categorical residency position in the Department of Surgery at the Medical College of Georgia (MCG). He served as the chief surgery resident in 2014-2015, during which time he was voted as Resident of the Year at MCG. During his residency he served on several committees with the American College of Surgeons and the American Board of Surgery. He then went on to complete his fellowship training in Colon & Rectal Surgery at University of Minnesota.
Dr. King is a board certified surgeon and is currently in private practice with the Colon & Rectal Surgery Associates in Georgia. His wife, Jessica Van Beek-King, is also a Ross alumnus (2010). She completed her training in Otolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery at the Medical College of Georgia, and then went on to complete a Pediatric Otolaryngology fellowship at Lurie Children’s Hospital/Northwestern University in Chicago. She is a board certified Head & Neck surgeon and an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Drs. King and Van Beek-King have two young daughters.
July 08, 2016
A Slice of Campus Life
Recently, the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) on the Dominica campus participated in a health fair for RUSM colleagues. AMSA, just one of nearly 50 student-run organizations that are registered on campus, collaborated with several students, including those representing the Optic, Endocrinology and Family Medicine clubs.
“The students exhibited great teamwork, and provided screenings and educational materials throughout the day,” said Joseph A. Flaherty, MD, who is the RUSM dean and chancellor. “It is very rewarding to see our students giving back in so many ways through their many clubs and organizations.”
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June 07, 2016
What do RUSM students like best about the Dominica campus? We posed the question to random individuals seated in the Student Center food court. Here are some of their responses:
George Abuaita, a second semester student, said, “It’s nice to hang out right here [in the Student Center food court] and de-stress. There’s a TV on a sports channel, and food everywhere. I can get away from the books, even if only for 10 or 15 minutes.” George earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan and has been a member of the Salybia Mission Club since his first semester at RUSM.
Jasmine Bajwa, a first semester student who graduated from the University of California at Riverside, said she and her friends like to go to the pier by Le Flambeau to watch the sunset. “I found my niche and figured out where I’m most comfortable studying,” she added. “The old library, we call it the ‘fishbowl.’ There’s no socializing and no distractions.”
Samuel Adepogu, from Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama, is in his first semester at RUSM. “I like the Student Center cafeteria,” he said. He was enjoying a breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes and eggs, and said that he eats other meals there as well. Samuel is a member of several clubs, including the Organization of African Students, the Salybia Mission Project, the neuroscience club, and the American Medical Students’ Association.
Gemstonn Alegre earned his undergraduate degree at Hunter College in NY. The second semester student said, “I like to go to the Seaside Deck when I’m feeling a little bit overwhelmed and need a time-out. I just go there and watch the awesome sunset.” He said that during his first semester he moved around from one study space to another. “I moved from the Student Center to a classroom to the Seaside Deck.” Now he studies in the old library. “It’s called the fishbowl because of the windows,” he said. “It’s the most stable spot.”
Current Students: What Do You Like Best About Dominica?
Do you have a favorite spot on (or off) campus? Send us an email. We'd love to hear it.
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May 12, 2016
Dr. Mark Kimpton (RUSM ’94)
On May 13, 2016, the Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) White Coat speaker will be
an alumnus who is now a faculty member. The ceremony for new students will be held on the Dominica campus at 2 p.m. and will be livestreamed on the RUSM website.
Dr. Mark Kimpton graduated from RUSM in 1994. In January of this year he joined the Department of Clinical Medicine as an assistant professor, with a focus on the Enhanced Standardized Patient Program, Small Group Learning-Interview Skills Training, Physical Exam Skills training, and Clinical Simulation training. Dr. Kimpton earned his undergraduate degree at Radford University, Radford VA. He also served in the U.S. ARMY as a combat medical specialist from 1983 to 1989, and was honorably discharged. He is sure to have an inspirational message for the new students, who will be donning their white coats for the first time.
Be sure to tune in to the livestream on May 13 to watch new RUSM students become doctors-in-training and hear Dr. Kimpton's words of encouragement for them. Click here to view the webcast. Please note that the stream will not be available until 1:30 p.m. ET.
May 12, 2016
New medical students at Ross University School of Medicine became doctors-in-training at the traditional White Coat Ceremony on May 13, which was streamed live for family and friends.
We recorded the video for you: watch it below.
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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January 25, 2016
On January 15, 2016, the class of 2020 participated in the White Coat Ceremony, a time-honored tradition at RUSM.
The first week of classes each semester at Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) culminates in the traditional White Coat ceremony for new students, as it did for the class of 2020 on January 15, 2016. “It is always a wonderful event,” said RUSM”s Dean and Chancellor Joseph A. Flaherty, M.D. “We were privileged to have in attendance His Excellency, Mr. Charles Savarin, the President of the Commonwealth of Dominica, and Mrs. Savarin.” Representing the prime minister was the Hon. Robert Tonge. Faculty members did the honors of donning and pinning the students.
One of the highlights of the ceremony is the keynote speaker, chosen from the ranks of RUSM alumni members; someone who is established in his or her career. The students are mesmerized by the person who so recently sat where they are sitting, and serves as the embodiment of their fervent aspirations. Invariably, the message is, “I made it. So can you.”
January’s speaker was Dr. Jason Lester, an emergency medicine physician. He was accompanied to the event by his wife, Dr. Ixsy Ramirez, a pediatric pulmonologist who was the RUSM White Coat speaker in 2013. They met on campus when they were medical students and both went on to graduate in 2006. Then they successfully went through the couples’ match together and began residency training. The proud parents of two children, they will soon celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary.
“Cloaking of the white coat is now considered a rite of passage,” Dr. Lester said. “The white coat is a symbol of your drive and dedication to the field of medicine.”
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January 13, 2016
In July 2015, the US Navy visited Dominica for an important medical mission, and many of our students were able to volunteer and help with this far-reaching humanitarian initiative. They shadowed Navy physicians, observed surgeries close up, and more—some even learned how to do medical procedures during their time alongside Navy doctors. It was all part of the USNS Comfort medical mission: something many students called a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get some valuable clinical experience early in their medical careers.
Get an inside look at this unique student experience with our new Comfort microsite. Read student stories, learn about the mission, and find out what it was like for the students to really get a firsthand look at how medicine is practiced on a global scale.
January 05, 2016
On January 15, 2016, Emergency Medicine Physician Jason Lester, MD, (RUSM ‘06) will be the guest speaker at the RUSM White Coat Ceremony for new students on the Dominica campus.
(Get more background on RUSM's White Coat Ceremony here.)
He took a somewhat circuitous route to becoming a physician. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of California, Riverside, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry. But then he went on to work for two years as a manager in engineering design and a project manager at SBC/Pacific Bell before enrolling in Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM). After graduation from RUSM, Dr. Lester completed his residency in emergency medicine at St. Vincent’s Mercy Medical Center in Toledo, Ohio.
Currently he is the attending physician, Department of Emergency Medicine and assistant medical director, Department of Emergency Medicine at Mercy St. Charles Hospital in Oregon, Ohio. He is a Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians, a Diplomate of the American Board of Emergency Medicine and a Diplomate of the National Board of Medical Examiners.
Dr. Lester recently spoke about his journey to becoming a physician. Here are some excerpts from that conversation:
Q: When did you decide to pursue a career in emergency medicine, and why?
A: I knew I wanted a career in medicine that had a bit more energy and excitement, along with a chance to use some of my mechanical skills, so I gravitated towards orthopedics and EM. After doing some rotations and looking at lifestyles of the two, I felt EM was the best choice and have not turned back since. I love the constant change and never knowing what is next, coupled with getting to go home and really not having to take my work home with me. It gives me good work/life separation.
Q: You began another career before enrolling in medical school. What made you switch?
A: I have always wanted to be a physician, but unfortunately was not accepted the first time around. I was the first person to go to college from my family and my guidance was poor. I took a stepping-stone job as an engineer and did have some great life experiences during that time. However I was not happy with that career style and went back to my first passion.
Q: Tell me more about being a competitive watercraft racer. How exciting!
A: I love all watersports, but when I was 12 I fell in love with jet skiing. When I turned 14, I joined the local race circuit and over the years developed many friendships and sponsors and was racing on the professional level the last three years before heading to RUSM. Those years were very memorable; we had a race team of five, we all traveled together and we were all like family, and had about a dozen sponsors! My teammate was national champion. In my last year of full competition I was Western Regional Champion (the western part of the US) and ranked number 9 in the world in my class. Every year I think of getting back into it, and this year may be the year
Q: What made you choose RUSM?
A: When I made the decision to leave the engineering field and go back to attempt medical school, I looked at both US allopathic and osteopathic schools, and then at Caribbean schools. US allopathic is always tough, and I was not feeling the osteopathic side. I felt RUSM was the most “US-like.” I have zero regrets about my choice and see tons of RUSM students rotate and succeed with the programs I work at and have worked at.
Q: What was your experience like in Dominica? Have you been back to the island since you completed your studies? If so, what are your impressions of the changes?
A: My experience was amazing. Being the adventurous type I enjoyed all the aspects the island had to offer, from the waterfalls, to hiking and I even got my scuba certification. I have been back to the island since finishing 4th semester three times and being invited to be the White Coat speaker will be the fourth time. I have enjoyed seeing the evolution and advancement of the local area. I was very excited to see how advanced the Emergency Center had become, and was truly impressed. RUSM has done and will continue to do an amazing job.
Check Out Some Past Stories About RUSM's White Coat Ceremony
January 01, 2016
Updated 4:30 PM ET, 1/15/2016, with link to recorded version
Ross University School of Medicine's (RUSM) winter 2016 White Coat Ceremony will take place on Friday, Jan. 15 beginning at 1:30 PM UTC (12:30 PM EST) with the ceremony starting at 2 PM UTC (1 PM ET) in Dominica.
The ceremony will also be broadcast live via RUSM's webcast. Go here to watch.
Featured Speaker: Jason Lester, MD (Class of 2006), Emergency Medicine Physician
Emergency Medicine Physician Jason Lester, MD, (RUSM ‘06) will be the guest speaker for the ceremony. Currently, he is the attending physician, Department of Emergency Medicine, and assistant medical director, Department of Emergency Medicine, at Mercy St. Charles Hospital in Oregon, Ohio. He is a Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians, a Diplomate of the American Board of Emergency Medicine and a Diplomate of the National Board of Medical Examiners. He completed his residency in emergency medicine at St. Vincent’s Mercy Medical Center in Toledo, Ohio.
Recorded Video for the Jan. 15 White Coat Ceremony
Did you miss the live webcast of this year's winter 2016 ceremony? Never fear: We recorded it.
December 08, 2015
|Claire Joseph, MHRM, MBA, Director of Curricular and Administrative Support
A dedicated colleague who has been at Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) for 19 years, Claire Joseph, MHRM, MBA, is transitioning from the position of Interim Director of Curriculum and Academic Director of Faculty Affairs to a new role as Director of Curricular and Administrative Support. In 1996 she joined the school as a secretary/receptionist and has held a number of increasingly responsible positions throughout the years, commensurate with her ongoing educational achievements.
Claire, a native of Dominica and a resident of Picard, Portsmouth, has availed herself of the educational benefits offered to colleagues. She earned a BA from DeVry University in 2007, and two master’s-level degrees from DeVry University’s Keller Graduate School of Management in the following years, one in Human Resource Management, and also an MBA.
In her new role, she explained that she “will be responsible for the overall administration of the operations of the curriculum division and for the implementation of effective curriculum support programs; and to provide leadership, coordination and integration of all curriculum functions and activities.” In addition, she will be responsible for providing management support and budgetary oversight and responsibility for the campus administrative support staff for all divisions and departments on the Dominica campus.
"Having a passion for what you do is more important than just doing the work."
Claire Joseph, MHRM, MBA, Director of Curricular and Administrative Support
Claire said that what she likes most about RUSM after almost two decades of employment is, “the team spirit and the fast paced nature of the campus. You are never left to do one thing all the time as opportunities are continually being created. Working at RUSM keeps you alert and gets you to be creative about things and how you can do them better,” she said. “When you know that you can assist or motivate someone to do their best and provide opportunities for growth, it is a great feeling of fulfillment. Having a passion for what you do is more important than just doing the work.”
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December 07, 2015
|Joy Himmel, PsyD, director of the RUSM Counseling Center in Dominica
The new director of the Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) Counseling Center on the Dominica campus, Joy Himmel, PsyD, said her first impression of the island was, “how beautiful the scenery is.” She and her husband, who arrived in late September 2015, take the opportunity to go hiking and swimming on weekends, she said.
For the past two decades, Himmel was the director of the Health and Wellness Center at Penn State Altoona. Since 2009 she has also been a peer review consultant for the American College Health Association (ACHA) and a health care accreditation surveyor with the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC). She noted that medical students are different from undergraduates. “Medical school students have a lot on their plates. There’s a lot of pressure. They’re competing with themselves and competing with others. There is also stress caused by the need to adjust to the cultural differences here.” In this situation, she advised, “You have to have the mentality of, ‘go with the flow,’ and have the mindset that you’re going to enjoy your environment.”
Himmel began her professional career as a psychiatric nurse in the U.S. She then went on to earn an MA in Community Counseling from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and a PsyD in Counseling Psychology from California Southern University.
“I’m here as a guide, a coach, to help students make the best choices, and to help them see all sides,” Himmel said. After evaluating what the needs of the RUSM students are, and what services are available, Himmel said she looks forward to partnering with the student affairs department and the health center on campus on initiatives to better “maintain students’ health, wellness and safety.”
She is the author and co-author of many publications and presentations, including “Suicide Prevention Strategies using a Chronic Care Model,” delivered in 2010 at Penn State University’s Professional Development Conference.
Adjusting to life in Dominica, Himmel takes her own advice about ‘going with the flow.’ “On Saturday mornings we go down to Portsmouth,” she related, “and if there’s a fisherman with a big tuna, we get a big slice and take it home in a bag. You learn to eat what you can find.”
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November 02, 2015
|Shani Shillingford, PhD (above, left) and McMillan Cuffy, MSc, were instrumental in founding the recently created Dominica Psychological Society.
Two Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) colleagues have been instrumental in founding the recently created Dominica Psychological Society (DPS), and have been elected to serve as leaders of the new organization. Shani Shillingford, PhD, was elected president and McMillan Cuffy, MSc, was elected vice president. RUSM’s Dean and Chancellor, Joseph A Flaherty, MD, commented that, “As a psychiatrist, and interim chair of psychiatry, I am profoundly impressed by the work of our colleagues in taking on this tremendous challenge. RUSM is proud of their efforts and we wish them well as they move forward.”
Dr. Shillingford, a native of Dominica who joined RUSM in 2013, earned her doctoral degree in educational psychology from the University of Northern Colorado in 2011. She is an assistant professor at RUSM's Center for Teaching and Learning. Mr. Cuffy is a counselor at the Counseling Center, in the Department of Health Services. He earned his MSc in counseling at the University of the West Indies-Mona campus, Jamaica, in 2005, and has been at RUSM for five and a half years.
Two years ago, the Caribbean Alliance of National Psychological Associations was launched. When Shillingford and Cuffy attended a conference presented by the group, as a professional development activity through RUSM, they learned that Dominica was not represented. They formed a steering committee and got to work. “One of our main objectives is promoting mental health in Dominica and dealing with the stigma,” said Cuffy. “We want to get people to be as comfortable talking about mental health as they are about physical pain.”
Shillingford said, “The primary aim of the DPS is to establish ethical ideals consistent with recognized international principles and standards.” She said that the DPS already had about 40 members, “mostly master’s level psychologists and counselors,” and that last month they had organized a series of group activities for at-risk young people in various programs on the island. “We did exercises in self-esteem,” she explained. “We helped them identify something good in themselves,” Cuffy added, “whether it was something physical that they liked, or a personality trait.”
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October 12, 2015
“You are the group that said, ‘we’re not giving up,’” said Joseph A. Flaherty, MD, Dean and Chancellor of Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) addressing the new group of incoming students at the White Coat Ceremony on October 8, 2015 on the Dominica campus. “You’ve gone through a lot just getting here.” He was referring to Tropical Storm Erika and its devastating aftermath on the island in late August.
The widespread destruction caused by the deadly storm also resulted in the airport’s closure, making it necessary for large groups of students, faculty and other colleagues to fly to Guadeloupe and take a ferry from there. “Remember Guadeloupe?” Dean Flaherty asked, eliciting affirmative cheers from the audience. He, too, had traveled that route with them last month. “You showed your commitment. You showed your ability to take on a challenge and move on. There are many challenges in medical school. I think you’re up to them. We selected you because we knew you could make it.”
Vice Dean Peter Goetz welcomed the class of 2019 and said, “We are very proud of our diversity.” He noted that the students were born in 56 countries, although most were born in the US.
“This is a very significant event for us,” said Campus Dean Dr. Stanley White. He introduced the keynote speaker, RUSM alumna Anita Lal, MD, a forensic pathologist. “Our keynote speaker shows new students what our graduates can become,” he said.
Dr. Lal has been a staff forensic pathologist at the Provincial Forensic Pathology Unit in Toronto since 2013 and is also a lecturer in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto. The advice she gave to the new students was, “Ask questions. Be determined. Don’t give up.”
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September 18, 2015
|RUSM student Brittany Singleton (second from left) was recently featured in a Chicago newspaper for her volunteer work on the US Navy's recent humanitarian mission to Dominica. She's pictured here with (from left) US Navy Lt. Commander Faith Underwood, CNM; fellow RUSM student Aurelie-Pamela Seka; and Mersedes Greene, HM3/E4, US Navy.|
RUSM student Brittany Singleton is featured in a recent edition of the Daily Southtown, a Chicago Tribune newspaper covering the Chicago Southland area. Brittany was one of 900 students who participated in the USNS Comfort hospital ship’s medical mission in Dominica.
The story highlights Brittany’s passion for learning the practice of medicine and her experience working with the US Navy on this humanitarian initiative.
Read the article* here, and see below for other coverage—both on our website and through other news media—of RUSM’s students. We’re excited that Brittany’s story is being told, and look forward to getting the word out about our students’ accomplishments even more in the future.
Other articles you might like
- Florida’s Sun-Sentinel*: South Florida students volunteer on floating hospital
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* Online signup may be required to view full articles.
September 14, 2015
The leadership of DeVry Medical International and Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) have been partnering closely with the local government and authorities in Dominica on several aspects of the relief efforts in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Erika. On Tuesday, September 8, RUSM’s Dean and Chancellor Joseph A. Flaherty, MD, presented a donation of $100,000 EC ($37,037) to the Dominica Red Cross Society.
“All of us at RUSM and DeVry [Education Group] are moved by the losses suffered by the country and we are equally moved by the indomitable spirit of the people,” said Dr. Flaherty. “We know that Dominica is on the road to recovery, with the help of agencies like the Red Cross, well-known everywhere as a good and reliable organization that delivers services to people in need.”
The president of the Dominica Red Cross Society, Philip White, accepted the check on behalf of the organization’s director general, board members, volunteers, and the people of Dominica. “At this point in time I think you have demonstrated your commitment to Dominica,” Mr. White said. “I want to say a big thank you to Ross for coming on board with the Red Cross with this timely gesture. This will go a long way in helping to alleviate the plight that most of our communities have suffered.”
September 05, 2015
Ross University School of Medicine's (RUSM) fall 2015 White Coat Ceremony will take place on Thursday, Oct. 8 at 2 PM in Dominica. The ceremony will also be broadcast live via RUSM's webcast.
|Anita Lal, MD (above), RUSM Class of 2004, will be the featured speaker at the fall 2015 White Coat Ceremony. Dr. Lal is a staff forensic patholgist at the Provincial Forensic Pathology Unit, Toronto, Canada.|
Featured speaker: Anita Lal, MD (Class of 2004), Forensic Pathologist
2004 RUSM graduate Anita Lal, MD, is the featured guest speaker at the fall 2015 ceremony. Dr. Lal has been a staff forensic pathologist at the Provincial Forensic Pathology Unit in Toronto since 2013 and is also a lecturer in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto. After earning her MD she completed her residency training in anatomical and clinical pathology at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan in 2010 and a fellowship in forensic pathology at the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office in Detroit in 2011.
Check back here in the coming days for the link to the live broadcast.
Other important notes
- Friends and family who are on campus for the White Coat Ceremony will not be able to view the ceremony in the room with students. Visitors will be directed to an overflow room where the ceremony will be broadcast.
- Dominica's major airport is now open, and roadways from the airport to the campus are open.
Want to learn more about the White Coat Ceremony in general? Go here for more on this time-honored tradition.
July 23, 2015
At Ross University School of Medicine students can choose from a wide variety of academic, physical, and community-oriented organizations and clubs on campus. View this video to get a sample of campus life.
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July 06, 2015
Executive Dean and Chancellor Joseph Flaherty, MD, chats with Senior Director of Finance Dean Shillingford.
I met recently with Ross University School of Medicine’s (RUSM) Senior Director of Finance Dean Shillingford, to talk about the importance of budgeting, and some ideas that might be helpful for our medical students. Mr. Shillingford, a native of Dominica, began his career with RUSM on the island in 2006, as a student accounts coordinator. He was promoted steadily and in 2011, he became the director of finance and administration on the Dominica campus and in January of this year he was appointed to his current position in Miramar. Here’s some of that conversation:
Flaherty: Generally speaking, it makes good sense for everyone to prepare a budget and keep track of expenses. People need to think about what is a necessity and what is not, and that is different for everyone.
Shillingford: It’s important to create a budget and to write it down. As far as expenses, the big three are food, housing and transportation. When students first arrive in Dominica for the Foundations of Medicine portion of the medical education program, they may not be sure how much to budget. But by the second semester, they will know how much they need.
Flaherty: Students’ standard of living has gone up; what they used to call the middle class standard of living has gone up. Medical students today wear decent clothes, eat out occasionally, take vacations. They probably had that in college. Our students have to look at their lifestyle a little differently. Going to Dominica is different. This is a study experience. You have this opportunity to learn the basic sciences and pass the USMLE® Step 1 exam with a good score. You’re not going to be spending money going places. There’s no need for a lot of new clothes; there are few functions for which to get dressed up.
Shillingford: There is a temptation for students. They studied hard all semester and they want to party. During the breaks some want to go island-hopping by plane, stay in nice hotels, go to the casinos.
Flaherty: I’m a big advocate of students setting study goals with rewards. Each day, if you study for five or six hours, you should have a short-term reward. Go out and play basketball, or whatever you like to do. If you study all week, go out on Saturday or Sunday. And if you study all semester, set aside money in your budget for a reward. I remember when I was a medical student I set aside $20 every semester, to reward myself with a trip to my favorite bookstore. I liked to read history and fiction. Still do.
Flaherty: The thing that students have to plan is how many trips back to the U.S. they will have to make. They may want to go home twice in 16 months. Some people get homesick.
Shillingford: As far as transportation on the island, the university provides it. Everything is within walking distance. And for excursions to Roseau and sightseeing day trips, these are also organized by RUSM and transportation is provided. You don’t really need a car.
Flaherty: There will be no events where you’re expected to drive. I think if a student wants to drive somewhere remote on the island, he or she can find three others who also want to go, and they can rent a car together for that occasion.
Shillingford: You don’t really need to buy a car just for 16 months. Gas on the island is also much more expensive than in the US. You have to discipline yourself to cut expenses. It’s always wise to reduce your expenses.
Shillingford: Most first semester students stay at Ross University Housing. Then they should look through our housing database for an apartment that is clean, and in a good location, and less expensive than something bigger and fancier. After all, how much time will they spend in the apartment? They’ll be spending most of their time on campus, in classes and labs, and studying.
Flaherty: Students probably spend about 80% of their awake time on campus. They should check out all of the many options available for study space and see what works for them. Very few students prefer to study at home all the time, because of the distractions there. So, how much living space do you really need? Some people are more social, and a compromise for them might be a place with maybe four bedrooms and a communal kitchen. When I was in medical school I lived in a decrepit building with about 20 other students. My room was about 10’ by 12’ with a bed and a desk and chair. It wasn’t bad. We had great camaraderie. It didn’t seem like a hardship.
Shillingford: Eating out is always more expensive than eating at home, no matter where you may be. You can save a lot of money by limiting the number of meals that you eat in restaurants.
Flaherty: It’s also probably easier to eat healthy if you cook a little. Our students can go to the market once a week to shop for fresh food. They can freeze leftovers in containers and have enough to eat for a few meals. This is what many of them do. It’s also a good way to make friends, shopping, cooking and eating together. During Orientation on campus we offer a presentation on the unique foods of Dominica and how to prepare them.
There’s a lot of information we give students, from the time that they are accepted to RUSM, about what to expect on the island and how to arrange for what they need, including housing and transportation. We are here to help. What students need to do for themselves is to think about their expenses and how they will budget for the basic necessities, as well as for the rewards they will give themselves along the way. And, as Dean Shillingford advised, “write it down.”
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May 28, 2015
Students in the Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) Class of 2019 took their first steps toward earning their medical degrees when donned their white coats at on May 15 in the ceremonial White Coat Ceremony, a regular rite of passage among many medical school students. And institutional leadership had some inspiring words to get them started.
“You are a superb group,” Dean and Chancellor Joseph Flaherty, MD, told the group. “You’re in a special place, and we know you are going to succeed.”
“Sixteen years ago, I attended a White Coat Ceremony. I was in the same seat as all of you,” said RUSM alumnus Nikhil K. Bhayani, MD, a 2003 graduate and guest speaker at the ceremony. “As we don these white coats, they symbolize our commitment to the medical profession.” Dr. Bhayani said. “Wear them with pride.”
Born in Roanoke, Virginia, Dr. Bhayani completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, earning a B.S. in biology with a minor in chemistry. After graduating from RUSM, he went on to complete an internal medicine residency at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center (2006) and an infectious diseases fellowship at the University of Illinois, Chicago (2008). He is board certified in internal medicine as well as infectious diseases and serves on key committees at hospitals in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Dr. Bhayani serves as chair of the Department of Adult Medicine at Texas Health Resources Arlington Memorial Hospital.
Kyle Zakkar, Student Government Association President, also chimed in: "We are all here to share the same dream—the dream of becoming a great physician."
The ceremony was attended by the Acting Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica Dr. Collin McIntyre, and the President of Dominica His Excellency Mr. Charles Savarin, as well as other government dignitaries.
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News and perspectives from our campus, colleagues, and alumni
P R E V I O U S P O S T S
- MATCH: Alumni are a Match Made on Campus
- ADVICE: 10 Tips for Ross Clinical Students
- IN THE NEWS: CNN Highlights Image of Ross Alumna and Female Surgeon Peers
- MATCH: Q&A with Student Set to Begin an Internal Medicine Residency
- ALUMNI: Sheryl Recinos, MD, Charted a Bold Plan to Pursue Her Dream
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