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RUSM Responds to Bloomberg Article

09/10/13

The October issue of Bloomberg Markets magazine includes an article on DeVry and the medical schools that are part of the DeVry family of institutions, including Ross University School of Medicine (Ross). The author, Janet Lorin, spoke with Ross dean and chancellor Joseph A. Flaherty, MD, and the School supplied information on the medical degree program at the author’s request.

Ross welcomed the opportunity to share information about our medical program, the Ross tradition of supplying qualified physicians for healthcare systems of North America, and our students’ resilience and dedication to their dream of becoming physicians. We would like to offer additional context regarding the issues discussed in the article.

Ross is an accredited medical school according to the standards and provisions of the Dominica Medical Board.

  • These standards are deemed comparable to US standards by the US Department of Education’s National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation (NCFMEA), through a provision in the Higher Education Act. The NCFMEA reviews the standards used by foreign countries to accredit medical schools and determines whether those standards are comparable to standards used to accredit medical schools in the US. NCFMEA has reviewed the standards set by the country of Dominica through the Medical Board (DMB), our accreditor, and deemed the country to have standards comparable to those used to accredit US schools.
  • Because Dominica has earned NCFMEA approval of its accreditation standards, students at Ross are eligible to gain access to the Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. This is not a “loophole” exploited by international schools, but rather a provision that reflects the US Congress and Department of Education’s recognition that select international schools provide a quality medical education and have an important role to play in supplying physicians for the US workforce.
  • More information about Ross’s accreditation

Ross’s mission is to provide qualified students with a medical education that will prepare them for practice in the healthcare systems of North America. This includes securing high-quality clinical experiences in US hospitals.

  • Ross develops mutually rewarding education partnerships with quality teaching hospitals in the US and UK to provide clinical rotation opportunities for our students.
  • Ross shares tuition revenues with partner hospitals, providing them with much needed financial support to enhance academic infrastructure and technology, renovate facilities, hire residents and teaching felllows, and support indigent care, among other needs.

Ross students complete a fast-paced curriculum and absorb a large amount of basic science content during the first four semesters. We work hard to find students who have what it takes to succeed, and then support them throughout their education. 

  • Data for the three incoming classes of Ross’s 2012-13 academic year are as follows:
    • Average MCAT score: 25
    • Average cumulative undergraduate GPA: 3.2
    • Average prerequisite GPA: 3.1
  • Past academic success, including high test scores and GPA, is only one predictor of success in medical school. Ross uses a holistic admissions approach that looks at a candidate's life experience, determination, and social maturity, in addition to their academic record. Looking at these factors helps us to evaluate potential students, particularly older and non-traditional students.
  • Ross’s recent investments in student services support, simulation lab, cutting-edge anatomy and medical imaging lab, and learning support systems (including a new course that prepares students to succeed on milestone exams) are all aimed at giving students the support they need to succeed.

Ross’s primary focus is student outcomes: Board exam performance, residency attainment, and program completion. 

  • Board exam performance: The USMLE Step 1 exam is the most important test taken by medical students and a critical factor in securing a residency. Step 1 is an important metric for evaluating educational quality at any medical school. Ross’s 2012 first-time pass rate on USMLE Step 1 was 96% – the same rate posted by US schools. Ross students’ performance on this important exam demonstrates that our basic sciences curriculum is providing them with a strong foundation for a medical career.
  • Residency: Preparing our students to attain a residency is one of Ross's highest priorities. In addition to offering excellent academic preparation, Ross has dedicated staff whose responsibilities are to assist students who are preparing for residency by advising them on the application process, providing necessary documents to match-related organizations, and providing specialized resources to help students learn about requirements for different specialities and residency programs. Key points on Ross residency attainment are: 
    • “Year of graduation” residency match rates are calculated as percentages of the subset of each year’s graduating class which is eligible for and actively involved in seeking residency positions. Because Ross students pursue individualized schedules for clinical clerkships and USMLE, each year’s graduating class is composed of students who have degree completion dates ranging from July 1 of the previous year through June 30 of the current year. Many of those students have not completed degree requirements early enough to obtain ECFMG certification for the NRMP cycle in March, so their attempts at obtaining residency positions do not occur until the following year.
    • Over the last five years, the first-time eligibility residency attainment rate at Ross has averaged about 85%. In the most recent completed cycle (2012), 84.4% of first-time eligible graduates with degree completion dates between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012 attained a residency.
    • Bloomberg Markets appears to be the only organization in the world that disagrees with the National Registry Matching Program’s definition of residency match. The article’s match rate calculation discounts graduates who match into “transitional” programs or “preliminary” residency programs – essentially portraying these matches as failures to match. The National Registry Matching Program, however, does not discount these matches.
  • Program completion: Student attrition is an important issue.  Most attrition at Ross occurs in the first year of study, before students who are taking loans accumulate a large debt load. We're concerned about attrition and work to make sure our students receive the support they need to succeed; but while it's an issue, we will never sacrifice academic quality to show a higher graduation rate.
  • On-time completion rate: The article states that Ross had an "on-time completion rate" of 52%. There are multiple reasons why medical students might elect to take more than four years to "complete" the program. For example:
    • Residencies start July 1 nationally. Because Ross enrolls students three different times per year, not every student is on the traditional academic calendar reflected by the July residency start. Therefore many students elect to space out their courses to finish the program and prepare for the residency match at the same time as those who started the medical program in September.
    • Other students might opt to take a semester off to prepare for the Board exams, if their timing allows.

Ross is committed to educating our students about the responsibilities and risks that accompany their investment in education.

  • We are very conscious of the financial responsibility that a student takes on in pursuit of their dream to become a physician. Therefore Ross maintains a strong commitment to providing financial counseling to students prior to their matriculation and throughout their education, so that they understand the financial commitment and risks they assume when agreeing to the terms of a student loan. We also encourage students to borrow the minimum amount needed.
  • The Bloomberg Markets article miscalculates when comparing tuition at Ross with median rates at US schools. The total tuition of $37,650 for the first two semesters at Ross (equivalent to one year at a US school) is 25% less than the median private medical school tuition of $50,309 cited in the article.
  • Ross has staff dedicated to providing financial counseling in order to promote financial awareness, advise students on repayment and debt forgiveness options, inform students of scholarship opportunities, and encourage responsible borrowing.
  • The three-year cohort default rate for Ross is 1.1%. This is an indication that students are securing employment and paying down their debt.

Ross has over 10,000 alumni, who are practicing in all 50 US states, Canada, and beyond. Many of them are practicing medicine in some of the most prestigious hospitals in the country. Many are chief residents at their hospitals, entrusted with overseeing fellow physicians and responsible for entire divisions of patient care. Here are a few of their stories:

  • Dr. Amy Alger is now a professor of surgery at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, specializing in trauma and surgical critical care after completing fellowships at the Harvard Medical School-affiliated Briham & Women’s Hospital, and after serving in Iraq as a member of the Army Reserve Medical Corps.
  • Dr. Filippo Chillemi is an orthopedic surgeon at the University of South Alabama who has operated on a number of high-profile professional athletes; he came to Ross following a brief career as a professional soccer player.
  • Dr. Vanessa Doyle was a nurse in her native Canada when she applied to Ross. Now she is a resident in one of the country's most competitive neurology programs.
  • Dr. Oleg Gusakov directs the anesthesiology department at Boston Medical Center, the busiest trauma center in New England. His keynote address at Ross's 2013 commencement detailed his experience treating victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.Dr. Megan Yee, our 10,000th graduate, is now a family medicine resident in Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Dr. Denise Infante is a pediatrician with Gouverneur Healthcare Services in New York City, and a health correspondent for local and national media.
  • Dr. Brent Murchie is chief resident in internal medicine at Cleveland Clinic in Weston, Florida, and recently secured a three-year fellowship program in gastroenterology at Cleveland Clinic.
  • Dr. Frederick Scott Ross is chief resident in internal medicine at the Cleveland Clinic in Weston, Florida. He came to Ross as a non-traditional student in his mid-thirties.
  • Dr. Salil Shah is a cardiothoracic surgeon at Einstein Healthcare Network in the Philadelphia area, following a fellowship at the Harvard Medical School-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. His wife, a pediatrician, is also a Ross graduate.
  • Dr. Kevin Tomsic operates the Allmed Family Care Center in Nagodoches, Texas. He came to Ross after 10 years as a chiropractor.
  • Dr. Michael Williams was recently appointed president of the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth. 

 

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