Ross University Blog

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Student Dedicated to Helping Diabetics in Dominica

August 25, 2016

Third-semester Ross student Michael Munoz is currently the clinic coordinator for the Endocrinology Club on the Dominica campus. In this capacity he has been instrumental in organizing four clinics for local community members this semester, alone, while also participating in two other clinics organized by members of other student clubs.

Michael has also donated a meter and testing supplies to two diabetic patients he met, who were not able to afford them, a 70-year-old man and a three-year-old boy. Additionally, he has taken steps to ensure that these people continue to get the supplies that are so critical to their care. Moreover, Michael gives his time to educate patients and their families, and to provide emotional support and reassurance for managing the disease.

“At all of these clinics I have come to see the difference Ross is making here in Dominica with the local population,” Michael said. “The patients and the students get joy from interacting with each other, because the students are given a chance to apply all of their knowledge, while the patients are glad to receive free treatment, and to get a chance to talk about their concerns and to get answers to questions about their health.”

Michael earned his undergraduate degree with a major in chemistry, at Montclair State University in N.J., where he was born and raised. His goal while studying in Dominica is to help create a “self-sustaining program in which diabetics can have more access to information on a variety of topics,” he said.

Tags: Community Service , New Jersey

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ALUMNI: How One Grad Is Putting His Medical Skills to Work at Home and Abroad

August 08, 2016

Faiz Hussain, MD, Ross Class of 2002

Faiz Hussain, MD, Ross Class of 2002

Before he even became a doctor, Faiz Hussain, MD, MPH (’02) knew he wanted to help people. “I had been exposed to different relief organizations, and always thought to myself how great it would be to be able to provide medical relief where there is none at all,” he said. “That was actually the driving factor for me to want to pursue medicine—to be able to do exactly what I’ve had the opportunity to do.” 

Indeed, Hussain has traveled the world bringing medical care to underserved communities as well as areas devastated by natural disasters. Since graduating from Ross University School of Medicine, he’s supported relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the South Asian earthquake of 2005, the Haiti earthquake of 2010, the Pakistan floods in 2010, and more. He also led a medical delegation to the Philippines in 2013 in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan. At home, he puts his skills to use in the US Department of Veterans Affairs. “Working with these populations, I realize that this is a passion that has come to fruition,” he said. “I am doing exactly what I wanted to do with the skills and knowledge I invested in.”

Below is a sampling of his efforts— what he remembers, what he’s contributed, and what he’s gained.

September 2005: Hurricane Katrina

Shortly after Hussain finished his internal medicine residency at Loma Linda University School of Medicine, America was hit with the worst natural disaster in recent history: Hurricane Katrina. “It was all about timing,” he said. “I had finished a month later than my peers, and the news was ablaze with the impact that Hurricane Katrina had on so many people. So I, like everyone else, was reading up on it and trying to understand the ramifications of this disaster.”

He did some research and contacted the Mississippi medical board. “I basically shared with them the fact that I just completed my residency, I had a break in my schedule before starting work, and I was available if they needed assistance,” he said. “They immediately processed an emergency state medical license to bring me over so I could help.”

He arrived at Biloxi on the gulf to find a shared relief effort bringing goods, water, food, shelter, and medical care to the people there. “I was assigned to take over a makeshift community clinic that had been set up at the Biloxi community center,” Hussain recalled. “I ran that for about two and a half weeks. That was my initial exposure into the medical relief world.”

October 2005: Kashmir Earthquake 

On his way back home from Biloxi, Hussain had a layover in Houston. He looked up at the television monitors, and saw that a massive earthquake had just hit the Kashmir, Pakistan region, leaving the already impoverished area devastated. “A few days later, I was actually contacted by a subsidiary organization of the World Economic Forum. They said they were familiar with my work in Katrina, and they wanted me to lead a medical team they were planning on deploying to Kashmir,” he said. “Within five days of coming home from Katrina, I was off to Kashmir.”

On site, he worked with a team to set up and establish mobile medical clinics in the valleys of Kashmir. “We set up a surgical tent and makeshift operating rooms, a pharmacy and dispensary, and triage and primary care,” he said. This experience expanded on his time in the aftermath of Katrina because, while floods cause undeniable damage, an earthquake causes even more physical trauma and injuries. “We were there for another two and a half weeks,” he recalled, “working sunrise to sunset.”

2012 and 2013: Nairobi, Kenya 

As a clinical preceptor for third and fourth semester RUSM students, Hussain has hosted two international clinical elective trips to Nairobi. “The efforts there were not limited to addressing an immediate medical need,” he said. “The idea was to do that but also to set up long term sustainable care.”

While in Nairobi, Hussain and the students visited several pockets of underserved populations that were deprived of any real access to medical care. With their entire medical clinic in backpacks, the group visited an area, set up clinics for a duration of about two or three days, packed up, and moved on to the next destination. “We had a good 10 to 12 clinical days in which we’d see about 300 to 400 patients per day,” Hussain recalled, adding that Kenya’s tribal society allowed word to spread like wildfire.

“Word got around that we were providing care, and people would come with their families, neighbors, children—we were literally inundated with case volume, but despite the logistical challenges, not one of us ever felt overworked or tired. It was truly a pleasure to be able to serve these people who really need this kind of care.”

On his second trip to the region, word of their efforts had spread to the University of Nairobi Medical School. “They were so impressed with the initiative that they asked if they could partner with us and send some of their clinical students to work with us,” Hussain said. “It was helpful because we had local medical students and residents that had a greater cultural tie to the patients. They were able to serve as translators and got academic credit. What started out as very small efforts had grown, and were recognized by local academia.”

2013: Camden, New Jersey 

Through RUSM’s 2013 season sponsorship of the Camden Riversharks baseball team, Hussain and other alumni had the opportunity to take part in a community health initiative that brought their health and wellness knowledge to the residents of Camden, New Jersey. “This event recognized that the local community didn’t have access to or encouragement to seek out medical care,” Hussain said.

“So we convened at the ballpark, took in a game, and educated the community about several medical issues affecting them including hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, dementia, and more. We discussed the importance of these conditions as well as what people can do to prevent them.”

Today: Long Beach and Los Angeles, California

In Los Angeles, Hussain donates his time to an organization that runs a community health clinic for the residents of Skid Row each year, providing vital signs screenings, ophthalmology clinics, flu shots and other vaccinations, and more. We’ve been doing this every year for the last 10 years,” he said.

Hussain’s day job is just as influential. After working as a medical director for an occupational medicine group, Hussain realized that he wanted to put his skills to work for America’s veterans. His background in occupational medicine made him a perfect fit to forensically evaluate medical disability claims, and shortly after joining the department in 2010, he became clinical director of the Department of Compensation and Pension with the US Department of Veterans Affairs in Long Beach, CA.

“A lot of the veterans I am seeing now have been deployed to southwest Asia and the Gulf countries,” he said. “Since I have both cultural and clinical ties to that region, I am able to bond with them on a different level than someone who hasn’t had that experience. As the veterans describe their experiences in those regions, I know exactly what they’re talking about because I experienced it myself firsthand. And that fosters a greater understanding and sensitivity to their medical needs.”

Tags: Alumni , Community Service

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COMMUNITY: RUSM Supports Construction Projects for Local Primary School

June 27, 2016

The recently constructed kitchen and dining room for Savanne Paille Primary School.

The recently constructed kitchen and dining room for Savanne Paille Primary School.

A new kitchen and dining room for Savanne Paille Primary School

A donation by Ross University School of Medicine and DeVry Medical International to the Savanne Paille Primary School in Dominica was instrumental in enabling the construction of a dining room and kitchen for the students. The project was co-sponsored by the Dominica Ministry of Education, and supported by the PTA and a host of volunteers. RUSM Campus Dean Stanley White, PhD, cut the ribbon on the new facility at a festive event on Monday, attended by dignitaries, well-wishers, RUSM colleagues, parents, teachers, and the 43 children in grades K-6. Dominica’s Minister of Education and Human Resource Development Hon. Petter St. Jean was in attendance, together with several members of his department. Also on the agenda was Hon. Reginald Austrie, parliamentary representative for the area.

“We strive to be good corporate citizens, and to give back to the community in which our university has been made to feel at home. We continue to support organizations devoted to education, sports, cultural programs and humanitarian efforts throughout the island,” said RUSM’s Dean and Chancellor Joseph Flaherty, MD.

“Ross University School of Medicine has had a special partnership with this island and its people,” Dr. White said. He thanked Executive Administrator Ryan Didier and Director of Finance Laurel Peterson for their involvement in making the project become a reality. Dr. White had the honor of cutting the ribbon on the new facility.

Minister of Education and Human Resource Development Hon. Petter St. Jean said that, “With this new environment we’ll see our students being strong and healthy and that will be reflected in their academic performance.”

RUSM has had a long and continuing history of community involvement and outreach in Dominica, supporting organizations devoted to education, sports, cultural programs and humanitarian efforts throughout the island.

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Tags: Community Service , Dominica

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THE PLEDGE: RUSM Joins American Cancer Society to Fight Colorectal Cancer

March 14, 2016

Left to right: <b>Congressman Donald Payne, Jr. </b>(NJ-10);  <b>Jason Plaia</b>, senior manager, American Cancer Society; <b>Lynly Jeanlouis</b>, alumni relations coordinator, Ross University School of Medicine; <b>Dr. Alvaro Carrascal</b>, VP of Health Systems, American Cancer Society; <b>Nicole Pride</b>, communications manager, Ross University School of Medicine; <b>Timothy Prol</b>, Esp., Director of Operations, New Jersey Primary Care Association

Left to right: Congressman Donald Payne, Jr. (NJ-10); Jason Plaia, senior manager, American Cancer Society; Lynly Jeanlouis, alumni relations coordinator, Ross University School of Medicine; Dr. Alvaro Carrascal, VP of Health Systems, American Cancer Society; Nicole Pride, communications manager, Ross University School of Medicine; Timothy Prol, Esp., Director of Operations, New Jersey Primary Care Association

During a recent signing ceremony in New Jersey, Ross University School of Medicine recently pledged to help increase colorectal cancer screening rates by supporting the 80% by 2018 initiative, led by the American Cancer Society (ACS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (an organization co-founded by ACS and CDC).

“Having lost my father too early in life to colorectal cancer, I know firsthand the seriousness of this disease and the importance of early detection,” said Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) who shared remarks at the ceremony. “Colorectal cancer is highly preventable and treatable—but you have to catch it early. By increasing awareness and screening rates, we can save thousands of lives in New Jersey, keeping families whole and our communities strong. That is why I am proud to endorse the 80% by 2018 Initiative and pledge to do all that I can to help achieve this goal to prevent and eliminate colorectal cancer.”

According to ACS, colorectal cancer is the nation’s second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths; however it is one of only a few cancers that can be prevented. Through proper colorectal cancer screening, doctors can find and remove hidden growths (called “polyps”) in the colon, before they become cancerous. Removing polyps can prevent cancer altogether.

“80% by 2018” is a National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT) initiative in which over five hundred  organizations have committed to substantially reducing colorectal cancer as a major public health problem and are working toward the shared goal of 80% of adults aged 50 and older being regularly screened for colorectal cancer by 2018.  Leading public health organizations, such as ACS, CDC and the NCCRT are rallying organizations to embrace this shared goal.

“We are thrilled to join the cause to improve colorectal cancer screening rates,” said Nicole Pride, communications manager at RUSM. “We will help to educate our nearly 12,000 alumni, particularly those who specialize in primary care, on what they can do to encourage patients who are over 50 years of age about getting screened. Together, we can help to eliminate colorectal cancer as a major public health problem.”

“Colorectal cancer is a major public health problem. Adults age 50 and older should be regularly screened for it. There are several screening options, including take home tests,” said Dr. Alvaro Carrascal, Vice President of Health Systems for the American Cancer Society. “Colorectal cancer can be prevented or detected early through appropriate screening and tens of thousands of lives can be saved if we increase screening to reach 80% by 2018."

Part of the 80% by 2018 goal is to leverage the energy of multiple and diverse partners to empower communities, patients, providers to increase screening rates. The 80% by 2018 initiative consists of health care providers, health systems, communities, businesses, community health centers, government, non-profit organizations and patient advocacy groups who are committed to getting more people screened for colorectal cancer to prevent more cancers and save lives.

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