Ross University School of Medicine Alumnus is Making a Difference in Canada, and Beyond


October 5, 2009 (North Brunswick, NJ)—Born and raised in Castlegar, British Columbia, Dr. Michael Van Vliet ’06 is currently fulfilling a one-year emergency medicine fellowship at the University of Manitoba, where he also completed his family medicine residency and was chief resident of its Family Medicine Program.

An active constituent of many local healthcare initiatives, Dr. Van Vliet is a member of the Section of Residents for the College of Family Physicians of Canada, a board that consists of family medicine residents from 12 Canadian programs interested in promoting change, curriculum development, and continuing medical education for Canadian family medicine programs; a member of the Colorectal Cancer Screening Board of Manitoba, a new program that promotes colorectal cancer screenings in the community; and spent two months working with the Northern Medical Unit of the University of Manitoba serving the aboriginal reserves in Northern Canada.

Outside of Canada, Dr. Van Vliet is a board member of the Himalayan Health Exchange and recently took part in a two-month long international medical elective in northern India.

“We saw more than 2,500 patients, none of whom had access to any other kind of healthcare,” he said. “The work was very challenging and rewarding.”

Making the Decision
Before coming to Ross, Dr. Van Vliet was the director of an Elite Athletic Program in Whistler, British Columbia, where he taught biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics to a dozen or so students who were members of Canada’s national ski and snowboarding teams. When the program was moved in 2003, however, Dr. Van Vliet decided it was time to go to medical school.

“I’ve always wanted to be a physician,” he said. “I grew up in a small town where my parents had been serving the community for over 30 years—my father is a family doctor and my mother is a nurse practitioner. I believed in what they did and got to see the impact they made in many of their patients first-hand.”

“I applied to several Canadian medical schools but was unsuccessful in getting accepted,” he continued. “There is currently a crisis in Canada in gaining admittance to medical school and we are nowhere close to training enough physicians for our aging population.”

Not allowing himself to get discouraged, Dr. Van Vliet started to research international medical schools, which led him straight to Ross.

“I had heard many good things about Ross and knew someone who had already gotten his medical degree there,” he said.

Life at Ross
Although Dr. Van Vliet described his transition from the Canadian mountains to Dominica as challenging at first, he quickly learned to appreciate the opportunities that living in a different culture allowed.

“Attending medical school in Dominica was one of the best experiences of my life. Living in a community that was so different from my own helped prepare me for my patients now. In fact, I liked Ross so much I took my sister there. She completed her medical degree in 2008, and is now completing a residency in radiology at the University of Toronto.”

According to Dr. Van Vliet, there are several things that make Ross stand out from other medical schools, such as:

• A good learning environment with few distractions
• An introduction to a unique culture and people
• A solid foundation in anatomy and physiology
• A quick path to completing a medical degree

Life after Ross
Since graduating from Ross, Dr. Van Vliet has been actively involved in recruiting other Canadian students to Ross and speaks at Information Seminars in both Canada and the U.S.

“I think it’s important to let Canadian students know that there are other opportunities to becoming a doctor, and Ross is a good one. When I look back, I have nothing but fond memories of the friends I met and my time at Ross.”

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 U.S. residencies 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 or call 732.509.4600/877.ROSS.EDU.