News

How One Ross Alumnus is Giving Back on a Global Scale

11/16/09

Dr. Moses deGraft-Johnson

Dr. Moses deGraft-Johnson

By Rebekah Herbison, University Writer

Living under the adage, “Success is a journey, not a destination,” Dr. Moses deGraft-Johnson ’01 has done more in the eight years since he graduated from Ross University School of Medicine than most people do in a lifetime.

Specializing in adult cardiac surgery and general thoracic surgery, Dr. deGraft-Johnson also has experience in ventricular assist devices, transplants, minimal invasive surgery and hyperhidrosis. He recently completed a five-year cardiothoracic fellowship at the University of Minnesota – Lillehei Heart Institute; is co-founder of Project Reach, a nonprofit charitable organization with expert volunteer heart surgeons and other medical providers responsible for providing health services to the South Saharan community; is currently working with a team of experts to help restructure the healthcare system in the U.S. Virgin Islands; and is also heavily involved in a project to build a state-of-the-art hospital in Ghana, West Africa.

Born and raised in Ghana until he was nine years old, Dr. deGraft-Johnson considers the building of Sankofa International Hospital to be his “life’s work.”

“This project has been many years in the making,” he said. “What we’re hoping to do is develop an international medical center that will not only serve the people of Ghana, but will also help to dispel the “brain drain” that happens in developing countries when the bright, young people leave to be educated elsewhere and don’t return because the infrastructure isn’t there to support them.”
According to Dr. deGraft-Johnson, huge numbers of Ghanaian physicians have immigrated to other places who would welcome the opportunity to give back to their community if the infrastructure was in place for them to do so.

“Once the hospital is built, doctors will be able to go back to Ghana and practice,” he said. “We’ll then select one student from each of Ghana’s nine major regions and train them so that they can go back and practice in their hometowns. That’s where another organization I’m involved with, MicroClinics, comes in.”
By providing the resources to provide basic essential health services to rural communities, MicroClinics will serve as the “missing link” in the chain that will create a sustainable healthcare system, according to Dr. deGraft-Johnson. “MicroClinics will build the clinics that will in turn support individuals who return to their home regions,” he explained.

“This is a huge commitment but when you look at the world and see what is happening in Africa in particular, it doesn’t take long to put two and two together and realize that something needs to be done,” he said.

Dr. deGraft-Johnson noted that growing up in Ghana and his experience at Ross University opened his eyes to social issues in healthcare.

“I grew up in a place where accessibility to healthcare is scarce. I saw a lot of preventable illnesses needlessly claim the lives of a lot of people. So pursuing a career in medicine was something I wanted to do from an early age,” he said. “Ross was a great opportunity for me. When everyone else said no, Ross said yes and allowed me to pursue my dream.”
However, the road to becoming a physician was anything but easy, he noted.

“Now when you say ‘Ross University’ everyone knows what you’re talking about, but that wasn’t the case back then. When we started our rotations we felt that we had to prove that we could compete on the same level as the U.S. students,” he explained. “We worked hard. We were the first ones in and the last ones out. A lot of the things that the U.S. students took for granted we didn’t because we knew we were privileged and had been given a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Dr. deGraft-Johnson hopes that incoming Ross students understand how important it is not to get caught up in the status quo.

“A lot of people just have their eye on the journey,” he said. “What they have to realize is that every single step you take to get there should be enjoyed. Each experience that you go through will help elevate you to the next level. In the end, your performance will speak for itself, so don’t get caught up in the little things.”
About Ross University School of Medicine

Ross University was founded in 1978 and is a provider of medical and veterinary education offering doctor of medicine and doctor of veterinary medicine degree programs. Located in Dominica, West Indies, the School of Medicine places more graduates into US residencies annually than any other medical school in the world and has clinical education centers in Miami, FL, Saginaw, MI, and Freeport, Grand Bahama. The School of Veterinary Medicine is located in St. Kitts.

Ross University’s administrative offices are located in North Brunswick, NJ. For more information about Ross University, visit www.RossU.edu or call 732.509.4600/877.ROSS.EDU.
 

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