Ross University Blog

Drive and Passion Earns Ross Student a Triple Board Residency and Fuels A Mission to Uplift Women

May 04, 2017

Myrline Rose Belzince is a 2017 Ross graduate who is poised to begin a triple board residency. She also is the author of <em>Beauty by Divine Design: You are Already Beautiful! Stop Trying</em>, published by WestBow.

Myrline Rose Belzince is a 2017 Ross graduate who is poised to begin a triple board residency. She also is the author of Beauty by Divine Design: You are Already Beautiful! Stop Trying, published by WestBow.

Anyone in need of some inspiration should pause to learn Myrline Rose Belzince's story. She is in the final stages of her medical education and is in position to begin a coveted Triple Board Residency Program at Tulane University School of Medicine. At the end of the 5-year training program specializing in pediatrics, general psychiatry, and child and adolescent psychiatry, Belzince will be board-eligible in all three disciplines. If all you were to know of Belzince were her current achievements and future potential that would be enough to celebrate. However, you may be astounded to learn about her journey from orphan to physician and her crusade to help women improve their self-image.
 

Humble Beginnings
 

Belzince was born in a rural region in Haiti. At age 7, her mother died and her father was not present in her life. Raised by relatives for the remainder of her childhood, Belzince was not privileged to enjoy the amenities common to children in the United States.
 
At age 11, Belzince's family moved to the island nation's capital Port-au-Prince to continue her schooling. According to Belzince, that is when she became keenly aware of her economic status. She began to compare herself with the other female students her age outfitted in jewelry and other nice accessories - even some classmates were chauffeured to and from school.
 

Courage to Change

 
Later, she followed her family members to the United States at age 20. After two years of living with her sister while working a minimum wage administrative job, Belzince decided to live on her own - to chart a new path.

She eventually earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts in Boston and a master's degree from New York University. 
 
After years of hard work, Belzince found herself in an established 10-year nursing career. Yet still, with all of her accomplishments, she felt unfulfilled.
 
"There was a part of me that was not satisfied with what I was doing. I worked with great people and I had wonderful experiences, but something was missing," said Belzince. "In order to make the impact that I wanted to have, I had to take a leap."
 
Although Belzince took a leap of faith to leave a stable career and go to medical school, some questioned her decision.
 
"A lot of people thought I was crazy," said Belzince. "But I knew it would be alright because I was going to work hard for it. Going to medical school was one of the best decisions I have made."
 

Road to Residency

 
Belzince recalls some of the challenging moments of medical school. "Medical school is tough, it's hard. There were nights when I asked myself, 'What were you thinking?' or 'What is wrong with you?'"
 
"Especially for me, I left a career. I left what was 'secure' and, at times, I felt like I knew nothing," Belzince explains.
 
According to Belzince, all of her doubts disappeared when she would interact with patients and build relationships with them. "All the long study nights were worth it," she said.
 
She attributes her support system and faith for helping her get through medical school.
 
On the Monday of Match Week at 11 a.m. EST, all medical students who entered into the National Resident Matching Program are notified whether they obtained a residency position. While most medical students are hovering over their electronic devices waiting for the official email notification that determines their fate to reach their inboxes, Belzince could not bring herself to look. She initially distracted herself with cooking and contrived household chores until she could no longer resist.
 
"Finally, at 11:17 a.m. EST, I decided to be a big girl and open my email," said Belzince. "And it read, 'Congratulations, you matched!' I didn't know if I should cry or laugh."
 

Message of Empowerment

 
"I had to jump, so I could tell all of the girls and women with similar stories that they could do it too," said Belzince when taking a deeper reflection on her motivation to make the bold move to begin a new career.
 
Belzince's desire to help other women thrive has been the undercurrent throughout her adult life - propelling Belzince to where she is now.
 
"What my MD degree and journey represent to me is that every girl and woman can achieve what they want," said Belzince. "If they are willing to sacrifice for it, it is attainable."
 
Challenging women to stop being self-critical, even self-deprecating, is what inspired Belzince to author her book, Beauty by Divine Design: You are Already Beautiful! Stop Trying. The book was re-published this year by WestBow Press.
 
"The inspiration for the book is to tell other girls and women that they are beautiful," said Belzince.
 
"I struggled a lot with low self-esteem and that coupled with the rejection from my biological father resulted in a very unhealthy view of myself," admitted Belzince. "Then I realized I was not alone. There are lots of girls and women dealing with similar struggles."
 
Belzince added that she wrote the book to share how her faith has helped her to overcome challenges and become a new beautiful woman. Her book focuses on biblical scriptures to help women modify their thinking. She notes Psalm 139 as a favorite that has helped transform her life.
 
Today, Belzince is a motivational speaker, sharing her story with women's groups and young girls.

 

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Tags: Match , Psychiatry , Pediatrics , Louisiana

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SCHOLARSHIPS: Student Inspired to Help Children in Underserved Communities

March 10, 2017

Rutuja Bhalerao, Ross student and recipient of the Community Health Leadership Award

Rutuja Bhalerao, Ross student and recipient of the Community Health Leadership Award

At the time, Rutuja Bhalerao didn’t know that the frequent relocations she had throughout her childhood along with her family would lead to the pursuit of a career in medicine. But looking back, it’s made all the difference.

A 2015 graduate of the University of California-Irvine, Rutuja is a recipient of the Community Health Leadership Award, a Ross scholarship that recognizes students who have made significant contributions to their communities through volunteer work or research. Here, Rutuja talks about why she chose Ross, first impressions and her passion for pediatrics.

What inspired you to pursue your MD?

While growing up, I had the opportunity to live in many different places that helped expose me to different cultures, such as India, Philadelphia, Oklahoma, as well as California. Living in some of the rural communities had provided me with an eye-opening experience as to the need for primary healthcare. While gaining exposure to the medical field during my undergraduate career, my interest in pursuing medicine grew, specifically in pediatrics. In addition, I have always wanted to travel and eventually become involved with Doctors Without Borders. Upon graduation, I hope to pursue that dream so that I am able to do my part in helping many of the underserved communities that I have come across while constantly moving.

Any memorable experiences with pediatrics before medical school?

I served as a board member of an organization called Team Kid Power (KiPOW), which provides early nutritional education in low-income area elementary schools, as a preventative measure against childhood obesity. Each week, I’d go into classrooms and give an interactive lesson on healthy eating and living habits, as well as exercise and eat lunch with them, which helped them learn by example.

My work truly came to fruition when the mother of a student, Mia, thanked me for helping her daughter understand the importance of healthy eating. That was when I realized that I really could make a difference in these children’s lifestyles, and those of their families.

Why did you choose Ross?

My brother is a fourth-year Ross student, and I’d also heard from multiple people about how Ross provides an excellent education and prepares you well for the USMLE®. And the beautiful location of Dominica was a plus!

First impressions of Ross?

My experience has been exceptional so far. Both the faculty and students are eager to make sure that you understand the material. Ross provides you resources that you may need to make sure you’re succeeding and that you’re comfortable while you’re here in Dominica. For example, they have a mentorship program where you are paired with a professor to make sure you’re on track. I’ve also been able to explore the island, from visiting the landmarks and beaches to enjoying local food and tea. I’ve truly received a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

What makes you proud to be a Ross student?

I’m inspired by the fact that students and faculty take the time to go to local clinics to offer health care and look out for their community. As we’re pursuing medical education abroad, we’re provided with new experiences every day, which allow us to grow, learn and adapt in a community that we now call home.

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Tags: California , Pediatrics , Students , Scholarships

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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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Tags: California , Alumni , Pediatrics

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