Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month
In 2020, 91% of RUSM students passed the initial step of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) on the first attempt. And in 2021-2022, results show yet another strong year for RUSM with a 95% first-time residency attainment rate thus far. Located on the island of Barbados and with a network of more than 15,000 alumni, RUSM is one of the largest providers of doctors for the U.S. healthcare system. RUSM graduates practice in all 50 states and in Puerto Rico.
Second-year student Emily Foster advocates for Latino representation in medicine
RUSM Latino Medical Student Association leader mentors Latinx students
Medical school seemed like a distant possibility for Emily Foster while growing up in Puerto Rico. Living in challenging circumstances, she encountered many economic hardships, while helping raise and support her six siblings. But she never lost her ambition. Always interested in health education, Foster attended private high school on a scholarship — a path to her med school aspirations.
Inspired by Life’s Challenges
Foster reflected on several experiences that fueled her healthcare passion. “When I was a child, my two-year old sister suffered a third-degree burn. My family and I were at the hospital every day for what felt like months. She required expert burn care. The doctors and hospital staff were incredible—they were one of the main reasons she recovered. I never forgot the dedication of her healthcare providers.” As a teenager, Foster attended a community health fair geared toward health education and services like free vaccinations for her low-income community. “I saw myself performing a role like that, providing patient education,” says Foster. “When I was 13 years old, my best friend got pregnant. I wish she had known about protection. That made me especially interested in sex education—something totally missing in our schools—I wanted to educate people about sexual safety, condoms, birth control, and pregnancy.”
Support and guidance were key to success
After stints in Omaha as a pharmaceutical validation engineer and a corporate data scientist, Foster turned her attention to medical school applications. She stumbled a bit at the start of her Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) tenure but quickly found mentors. “RUSM offered excellent support that helped me complete my studies through the ELLS 1 (Essential Lifelong Learning Skills) course through the Academy of Teaching and Learning (ATL). I also took advantage of the RUSM Wellness and Counseling Center. My counselor helped to increase my academic motivation and taught me stress management techniques to get through school. Med school can be tough, and it’s an incredible resource.” Now in her second year, Foster is interested in specializing in pediatrics and family medicine, focusing on patient education and preventative medicine with underserved populations. She would like to serve in a community health center, like One World in Omaha, where she worked as a volunteer, translator, and certified nursing assistant before med school. “Explaining medical terms and issues to the Hispanic population is what made me decide to become a physician. Many are immigrants, or undocumented, or do not have insurance. They should be reassured, respected and made fully aware of their options for care,” says Foster.
Motivating other students through leadership
Foster is now president of the RUSM Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA), inspiring other Latino students to become leaders in the medical field. “Our mission is to connect students so they feel represented on campus and can rely on moral support from other Latino students. We guide students to become future Latino leaders in medicine, and our goal is to perform health education outreach,” says Foster. “We invite non-Hispanic students to join us to learn about the Hispanic culture as a whole and learn how to better serve patients in that community.” Foster feels confident about the future—for herself and other Latinas. “I don’t feel alone anymore or feel like entering medicine is impossible for someone like me. I believe the future will be different for Latina women in medicine, with more representation and opportunities. Encouraging each other is part of that change.”