Episode 27 - RUSM and Black Male Doctors organization
The Black Male Doctors student organization is an academic, cultural and social support center for students of all origins, with a special focus on black male students and students of African-American descent. My guest today is the club President Tyler Checkley.
MILENA GARCIA: Hello future Rossies and pre-med explorers. This is Milena Garcia, your host for Ross University Checking the Pulse: a Pre-med Podcast. This is our mini podcast featuring facts and information about our medical program, insights from current students and tips from practicing physicians each week. This broadcast will be broken down in small episodes focusing on one aspect of our program, also having guests talk about their own experiences as students and as doctors.
In celebration of Black History Month, in this episode we are going to highlight the Black Male Doctors student organization. This is an academic, cultural, and social support center for students of all origins with a special focus on black male students and students of African-American descent. My guest today is the club president, Tyler Checkley.
GARCIA: Hey Tyler, let's have a moment to have you introduce yourself.
TYLER CHECKLEY: Hi guys, my name is Tyler Checkley. I'm a second year medical student here at Ross University and just a little bit about myself, I'm from Tampa, Florida. I did my undergrad at St. Thomas University, which is a small school out there in Miami, Florida.
GARCIA: Tell us about the Black Male Doctor student organization.
CHECKLEY: Black Male Doctors was an organization that was established in 2019 by a group of young men that felt there was a need for change and ever since then, we've developed an organization full of tremendous support and guidance that we provide to students every single semester.
GARCIA: And what is the main goal of the organization?
CHECKLEY: Now with our organization, from all the previous semesters we feel that the most important thing when it comes to medical school is support and that support and guidance and communal sense of camaraderie, it definitely makes medical school much more attainable and much more doable.
GARCIA: And why is this so important?
CHECKLEY: I would say that support is extremely important in a situation like being in medical school because there's going to be times where you feel like you can't do it. There's going to be times where you feel like you're alone and you feel that all this pressure is weighing on you and when you have that support, you realize that it's just part of the process. Part of being great is by stepping outside of your comfort zone and doing things that not many people think they can, and through that is growth. And the growth that comes from that is what truly makes you an amazing physician.
GARCIA: Why is the student organization so successful?
CHECKLEY: I want to say that the organization is successful because everyone plays their part. Everyone understands that to get through this we need to get through it together and a lot of people do not have that support that they need to get through things like this. The organization has a main focus on providing that level of support. Now as we discussed it takes the level of understanding academically and the skills to get through the whole program but without that level of understanding and that level of brotherhood that we offer, it gets tough. It gets difficult. So by mentoring these individuals and from the first semester all the way to the fifth, they realize that you do belong and that there is a place for you and it's just up to you to decide whether you want it or not.
GARCIA: Tyler, you brought up a good point about when people don't believe that they belong. What can we do to inspire more black men to consider medicine as a career path?
CHECKLEY: I think the generation that we're in, I think social media plays a huge part in that. We spend so much time on on Instagram, Twitter, all these different social media platforms and all we see are successful black men who are successful because of their voice or what they can do on the field and we don't see enough black men who are successful in the classrooms, in hospitals, in law firms and in businesses. I think that through our efforts and through some of the collaborations that we have with individuals who are actually in hospitals right now or in these high-powered positions we can show that it's not only your desire, but the constant support you get from role models, and the guidance that you get from mentors, that you have at your own disposal, that allows you to truly believe that this is something that's doable.
Black Male Doctors Events
GARCIA: And coming back to the club, I know you guys have been very active. Tell me about some of the events that the Black Male Doctors have been hosting.
CHECKLEY: In the past we've had a couple events focused on the social aspect of medical school, but we realized that a lot of people naturally want to socialize. We have to take that social aspect and kind of put an academic spin on it, so one of the events that we do have every semester is the clinical skills interviewing event, where you can attend this event where you practice the physical exam skills all physicians need to know to then further their understanding in the interview aspect as well, so that when you come out of those programs or when you come out of those events, you feel that much stronger in that field of medicine. Along with that, we also have some community events because as you know, we're located in Barbados, so we have a bunch of food drives and soup kitchens that we try to get involved with, because we feel like as future physicians we have to promote health and wellness anywhere we are. Being a physician means that you are here to help the people, not only the people that you surround yourself with but the people who need you. With that we also have a clothing drive for the homeless here in Barbados, just to show our appreciation to Barbados for allowing us to be here, but also letting them know that we are doctors for everyone.
GARCIA: You also offer some networking with the clinical students as well, correct?
CHECKLEY: Yes, so we actually also have a mentorship program, as I alluded to earlier and with that mentorship program, we pair up the new students. If you come in your first semester we pair you up with a second, third, fourth, or even possibly a fifth semester student who has done it before, because it's hard to try to navigate through medical school blindly. By having that other person who has done it already, it allows you to grow and understand that this process is a process that is tough, but very doable. What we try to do is we have weekly check-ins for the minis, which are the exams that you have throughout the semester to ensure that as you go through the semester you will constantly have somebody who is making sure that you're mentally there, physically there, and also spiritually there, because at times we get lost we get lost in our minds. We get lost in our feelings. Our emotions.When you wake up and you spend 12 hours a day studying, at times it sometimes feels like it's very monotonous. But having other people around you can do the same thing. It kind of makes it fun, it allows you to make that network of people who are going through the same struggle but at the same time there's beauty in the struggle.
GARCIA: You also bring a very strong message of “You're not alone,” right? And also being in admissions I often hear from the applicants, they talk about how hard it is to get into medical school, but as you're bringing up, it's actually much harder once you are in, so it's a great point to develop this community, the support group that you guys have. What about your personal story? Why Ross? How did you end up at Ross?
CHECKLEY: I would say that my journey is very similar to a lot of other individuals. We go through the cycle believing that every school is going to accept us and we think that every school is going to believe in us as much as we feel like we believe in ourselves, but when I ran into Ross, Ross gave me that same sense of belief. They, from the interviewer all the way to the first person I met on campus, they all showed the enthusiasm and the excitement for me to be there. It wasn't just me to be there in the sense that I'm just filling a seat, but it's now you're part of the family and that is exactly what tied me in. My interviewer was amazing and when she called me and let me know that I was accepted, I just knew that this is where I needed to be.
GARCIA: Any advice to our future Rossies watching us right now?
CHECKLEY: I would say stay connected. Don't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and believe in yourself, because if you don't believe in yourself, no one else will believe as much as you can.
GARCIA: Tyler, thank you so much. We appreciate your time, I know you're busy. You got another 12 hours of studying ahead of you. I appreciate you taking your time. Thank you so much. Good luck!
Thank you for listening to Ross University: Checking the Pulse: A Pre-med Podcast. This is Milena Garcia, your host. This podcast is made for you, so let me know what topics you want us to cover in future episodes. You can send me your comments, feedback, and requests to email@example.com. Definitely follow us on Instagram, Twitter and our YouTube channel at rossmed school or on Facebook. If you’re listening to this podcast on iTunes, I am working my way to five stars, so remember to send me your comments and let me know your ideas. If you’re on Spotify, remember to click the follow button to get our future episodes. Alright, see you future Rossies and pre-med explorers next week!