For One RUSM Alumnus, Becoming a Physician is First Step in Lifelong Journey
Having graduated from Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) just a few short weeks ago, Rick A. Garcia, MD ’19, is eager to begin residency and continue to work toward becoming the best physician he can be for his patients.
“It was very special to go through this transitional step, but the journey is not over. The journey is never over,” he said. “I’m looking forward to taking my medical skills to the next level in residency. This is a period in our life where there is immense personal growth. I am hungry for more responsibility and knowledge. I can’t wait to go through all of the fields of medicine again [and] fall in love with each of them all over.”
With his combined passion for global health and providing care to those patients who need it most, Garcia found his first two years of medical school in Dominica to be “illuminating, empowering, and challenging.”
While at Ross, Garcia was afforded with unique learning opportunities both in Dominica and the U.S. that left a lasting impression. Among these was his very first experience caring for a patient on his own as a second-year medical student when he volunteered to help patients in the more remote areas of the island and found himself caring for an elderly woman who had such severe diabetes that she had undergone a partial leg amputation.
“Applying knowledge learned while willfully locking myself in the library felt remarkable,” he said.
As a fourth-year student, he started a blog called OdysseyMD to share information that would make his followers’ lives both healthier and happier.
“I created OdysseyMD when I realized the most valuable thing I did as a student was to educate people. One conversation about nutrition, vaccines, or the options of contraception made a real impact on people’s lives. I only got to do this a handful of times a day, though. I realized if I wrote for a broader audience, perhaps I could help more people this way,” he explained. “Although the website was supposed to be only medically relevant topics approached from an educated but relatable point of view, I realized just sharing our journey would be helpful to people who want to do the same thing.”
Bound for Abrazo Community Health Network in Phoenix, AZ, Garcia is excited to join a Family Medicine residency program whose mission is aligned with his own personal goals.
Garcia would like to open his own clinic one day and can see himself perhaps taking on an administrative role or working in public health in order to create more streamlined processes to cut through the red tape that can sometimes create hindrances to patients seeking healthcare, he noted.
“When that day comes, and I’m really excited for it, I hope to practice full-spectrum care and provide all the services I can on-site. [In this way, I can] make it as easy as possible for my patients to get the care they need and enjoy the process of doing it [by] not making it something they dread,” he said. “If we start thinking of medicine in that way, maybe people will be more inclined to keep on top of their health.”
At present however, in addition to personal and professional growth, Garcia is looking forward to having a greater degree of autonomy as a medical resident.
“It’s been a long time that I’ve sort of been ‘on the bench’ so to speak, and even in my limited role on the healthcare team over the next year and so forth, as my role becomes more and more advanced it’s going to be wonderful,” he said. “I’ve been looking forward to this my whole life.”