May 20, 2016
Aly Klein at the RUSM White Coat Ceremony on May 13, 2016.
“My dad always told me, ‘Don’t be average,’” Aly Klein recalls. “If you’re average—if you do the same things everyone else does and follow the masses—then you won’t go anywhere.”
It’s a message that Klein took to heart.
Born and raised in Brazil, Klein moved to the U.S. to pursue his dream of becoming a physician. Along the way, he became fluent in English, volunteered in emergency rooms and participated in neuroscience research. Now, at 23, Klein is starting at Ross University Medical School (RUSM) with a Community Health Leadership Award scholarship.
There’s a lot of words you could use to describe Aly Klein, but it’s safe to say “average” isn’t one of them.
Committing to Medicine
“I’ve always seen health care as a venue to help your friends, family, community, and get to know people of different cultures,” Klein says.
But his expectation for medical education didn’t match what was available to him in Brazil.
“In Brazil, students begin their professional programs—including medicine—immediately after high school. I don’t think 17- and 18-year-olds have seen enough of the world yet to be able to make that kind of decision,” Klein said. “You need to be certain that medicine is truly your path, and that you want to dedicate your life to it. That’s why I loved the U.S. model of exploring your skills and interests through a bachelor’s degree before starting medical school.”
At age 15, Klein moved away from his family and friends to spend a year of high school as a foreign exchange student in Texas. His commitment to his educational vision was so strong that he moved back to the U.S. after finishing high school in Brazil, to earn his bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas-San Antonio.
While in school, he volunteered at several hospitals in the emergency department—a field he’s gravitated towards ever since he was 14.
A Life-Altering Experience
In July 2007, 14-year-old Klein and his father flew to São Paulo, Brazil, for Klein’s student visa interview to become an exchange student. While waiting to board their flight back home, they heard an explosion from the other side of the airport.
An Airbus A320 had skidded off the runway, crossed the highway and crashed into a nearby office building and gas station. More than 180 people died in what would become the worst air traffic accident in Brazilian history.
In the ensuing chaos, Klein got separated from his father and stood alone, watching the emergency workers arrive at the wreckage. In the midst of a devastating scene, the emergency team was the one source of hope.
“Seeing the emergency crew respond to this horrible accident really opened my eyes to people dedicating their lives to serve those in need,” Klein says. “Their spirit and what they provided—help to people who needed it most—stayed with me.”
“The Best Place for Me”
It was that spirit that kept Klein coming back to the ER—first, as a medical scribe, before being promoted to night shift technician—until just before he left for Dominica.
“It was bittersweet to leave the hospital. I did a little bit of everything, so I got to know a lot of people,” Klein says. “I believe one of the best traits a physician can have is to be a great listener. Not just waiting for someone to finish so you can respond—but really listening.”
In fact, it was through conversations with a colleague at the hospital that Klein learned about RUSM. Having applied to U.S. medical schools without success, Klein was intrigued by the stories from his colleague, an RUSM alum who “had nothing but good things to say about Ross.”
“The more I researched RUSM, the more it seemed like the best place for me,” Klein says. “Diversity has played a huge role in my life—moving to the U.S., meeting new people, experiencing new cultures. RUSM has such a diverse class, and it’s an opportunity for me to take another step in my journey while living abroad again.”
Starting the Next Chapter
|From left: Aly Klein, his son Charlie and wife Amber on Dominica.|
Now, nearly a month into his time at Dominica, Klein has no regrets. With his wife Amber and three-month-old baby Charlie joining him on the island, he’s got all the support—and motivation—he needs.
“I think of my family at home in Brazil and my family here, and it makes me go that extra mile every day,” said Klein. “Ross gave me this opportunity. And like everything else in my life, I’m not wasting any time in going forward with it and achieving my goals.”
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March 02, 2016
RUSM alumnus Deepak Vatti, MD, Chief Resident, State University of New York's Upstate Medical University
RUSM alumnus Deepak Vatti, MD, is completing an Emergency Medicine residency program at State University of New York's Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. Dr. Vatti paused from his demanding schedule to talk about his experience at RUSM and his role as chief resident.
RUSM: What attracted you to RUSM?
DEEPAK: Ross University School of Medicine offered me a scholarship and allowed me to start in January. I was working as an EMT while also running a business called SpinoFlex that manufactures a device that helps people walk again after a spinal chord injury or stroke. The flexible start time at RUSM allowed me to make a smoother transition from my two jobs.
RUSM: How did you prepare for the NRMP® Match?
DEEPAK: I knew that I wanted to specialize in Emergency Medicine so I did all of my rotations in that specialty. I also made sure to rotate in hospitals that offered the potential for a residency so that the faculty would get to know me and I would develop an intimate knowledge of the hospital. In addition, I studied hard for the [USMLE®] Step exams because those scores indicate to residency programs whether you will be likely to pass your specialty-specific boards.
RUSM: What are the top two or three ways RUSM helped prepare you for your residency position?
DEEPAK: At RUSM I learned to be adaptable and go with the flow. I learned to overcome any obstacle and not become frustrated by the little things. There is a distinct personality you’ll find in people who graduate from RUSM. The students who succeed there tend to be leaders in whatever they do. They work hard, show up early, stay late, and understand that a lot of work goes into residency. For that reason, they seem to have an easier time making the transition. In addition, by virtue of being foreign medical grads, RUSM students learn to be organized and efficient with complex administrative processes instead of becoming frustrated by them. RUSM is almost like a boot camp – a lot of my friends from RUSM have become chief residents.
RUSM: What are the key factors that led to you achieving a chief resident position?
DEEPAK: My clinical rotations gave me a broad perspective on the practice of medicine. I did rotations in Miami, New York, Chicago, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Maryland. In each of these hospitals I was able to see how medicine is performed, observe how different people solve problems, and identify common threads. This allows me to bring creative solutions to the table.
RUSM: What additional responsibilities have you assumed since becoming a chief resident?
DEEPAK: At SUNY Upstate, chief residents are in charge of the schedule for all of the residents that rotate through the emergency department. This is a unique challenge because we have an increasing volume in the hospital and we have to be efficient with the residents and not burn them out. We are also on the committee that is responsible for curriculum changes, and we advocate for residents during conflict resolutions.
RUSM: What’s next for you?
DEEPAK: I will be Associate Director of an Emergency Department in New Hampshire, where I’m from. I am also staying on as faculty at SUNY Upstate Medical University.
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