Episode 26: RUSM and the Surgery Interest Group


Ross Med students have the opportunity to participate in more than 40 clubs and organizations. No matter what your interest is, there is a group of like-minded students. In this episode, we will talk about the Surgery Interest Group (SIG). SIG strives to strengthen the basic skills required to prepare our students for their surgical rounds and necessary procedural techniques for the field of surgery. My guests today are Matthew Pace and Stephen Stocker.

Episode 26 - RUSM and the Surgery Interest Group (SIG) Transcript

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.

Ross university students have the opportunity to participate in more than 40 clubs and organizations. No Matter what your interest is, there is likely a group of like-minded students. In this episode, we will talk about the Surgery Interest Group. The SIG strives to strengthen the basic skills required to prepare our students for their surgical rounds. My guests today are Matthew Pace and Stephen Stocker

PACE: Hey guys, my name is Matt Pace, very happy to be here, thank you for having me. I'm the president of the surgery club. I'm in my fifth semester, so I've been here for almost two years. I'm loving it and just happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

GARCIA: Stephen

STOCKER: Hi everyone, again thanks for having me. My name is Stephen Stocker. I'm currently a 5c student here at Ross. I graduated from the University of Houston in Texas. Like so many of the people that come to join this club, I'm also looking to do a career in surgery, ultimately.

GARCIA: And Matt, what is the Surgery Interest Group?

PACE: The Surgery Interest Group, also known as SIG, also known as Surgery Club. There are a lot of names. We are a group of students and one of the larger clubs and at the school. A group of students interested in a surgical residency. Our main goal, especially us students, as we're the heads of the club, is we try to prepare students both in skills but also as an applicant for surgical residency. The three main steps we try to focus on are hands-on training or foreign hands-on training, how to achieve a good Step One score (that's very important), how to be successful during your clinical rotations and then of course how to be a more competitive applicant when you apply for surgery. We do that by offering certain events during the semester for our students.

GARCIA: What kind of events do you offer to strengthen basic surgical skills, Stephen?

STOCKER: we offer quite a few hands-on labs, like surgical labs. We also do a monthly journal where we have research articles come in and we'll have students, second year, third year or fourth year even, present these research articles, to get essentially all the students comfortable with research and presenting research, which ultimately becomes very important as you progress your  medical career. We also have a lot of guest speakers and  those are from like all levels of the pipeline. We have individuals coming in that are attending, individuals that have gone to Ross and are in surgical residencies as well, fourth year people, students further into the pipeline so they can give us information on what it's like.

RUSM Surgical Labs

GARCIA: You mentioned the surgical labs, can you elaborate a little bit more?

STOCKER: Sure. Again that's like one of the biggest things that attracts students to our club. The two biggest ones we offer are knot tying lab, which is pretty much what it sounds like; then we have our suture lab. How that works is we have facilitators that will come in and demonstrate to the students how to do this and then we as the students will work on honing these skills hands-on so that we can practice. That's going to help you again further along in your career because these are things you essentially have to know, even if you decide not to go on surgery you're going to have to know how to suture, how to place IVs, how to do knot tying, very important stuff.

GARCIA: And Matt, as the president of the club, what are your plans for the future?

PACE: I guess as president probably the most exciting part is working on the future. We have those labs, the knot-tying and suture labs, but we're also working on offering an IV lab so people can come in, we'll have a couple different cadaver arms and they can work on those IVs. Also as clubs of Ross, typically they are only in the medical sciences. That means offered in medical sciences, but that  also means in the first two years in med school there's not really any clubs or or organizations like that. You have a Facebook group and you collaborate like that with people but what we're trying to do as a surgery club is extend it from medical sciences to the clinical sciences that way as you transition over you'll have a family and a safety net to fall into and have people that will be able to help you work through that process, because it is a transition going from the island to the U.S. hospital setting, so we're hoping that we can make that work for everyone so we have that safety net.

GARCIA: And why Ross? Stephen, we'll go with you first.

STOCKER: I, like many other people at Ross, would just say that I was a non-traditional student. Personally, I didn't have the best GPA that I was capable of getting. I was working full-time to pay for education and things like that. As I got older and decided on what I wanted to do as a career path, I applied to schools in my state, in Texas, and the process is what it is, so it's really demanding. You have to wait for the results and I did not get in that year. I was planning on applying for a second year, but I decided in my heart of hearts that I really was ready for the challenge and the opportunity. I applied to Ross and I was given an opportunity and flew to the island, I want to say three weeks after my interview and the rest is history.  I’ve never never been happier. 

PACE: As a little kid, in like third grade, it was when they used to vote like who would be most likely to be a doctor or a lawyer or whatever. Funnily enough I was in third grade and they voted me to most likely become a doctor. That was hilarious. I didn't expect that obviously and I did not want to be a doctor growing up. In fact, my dad was a physician. He worked internal medicine and he struggled a long time financially, actually. It affected me as a kid and so when I started college it was as a finance major and I'll tell you what, man, it was boring. I quickly stopped doing that major and switched to something else and during that time, I had it somewhere off when I started shadowing different careers. I did business. I did law, and I did other things like that and I also know I reluctantly started shadowing a doctor. Funny enough, I found out that it was something that I absolutely loved and was passionate about and I had to give it a second chance and that's when I soon came in and I met the surgeon that I worked with, a general surgeon, and I absolutely loved it to death. 

So when I started to apply for med schools, I actually met a friend of mine or had a friend of mine who went to Ross and he mentioned it to me and I thought you know that'd be an interesting idea. I applied to a bunch of schools and I didn't get in. I struggled at the beginning of college, and my MCAT score wasn't the best, so when Ross gave me the opportunity to go to med school, I absolutely took it and honestly I can tell you now that I am so grateful to Ross for giving me the opportunity to fulfill a dream that I didn't know I had until I was an adult, so I appreciate that.

GARCIA: And we are 100% behind both of you. Future Dr. Stocker, future Dr. Pace, thank you very much for joining me. I appreciate your time, and to everybody else listening, thank you for joining us and we will see you next week.

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 mgarcia@rossu.edu. 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!