“While there are a ton of professions that let you help people, I was drawn toward medicine because of my love for science in school,” she said. “From the age of 12, I went to a summer camp dedicated to aspiring physicians, volunteered at my local hospital, and did everything I could to foster my love for medicine. In college, I pursued a major in the biological sciences and a minor in general business with a healthcare focus in order to understand the business behind medicine.”

Talwar decided to apply to Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) after hearing success stories from RUSM alumni practicing all across the U.S.; however, she was initially disappointed to find out that her acceptance was contingent on her successfully passing the Miramar, FL-based Medical Education Readiness Program (MERP) first.

“I was a little bit disappointed that I’d been ‘MERPed,’ but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise,” Talwar explained. “More than anything, it boosted my confidence that I chose the right profession for me. It showed me that with hard work and dedication to the field, I was going to be able to succeed in medical school.”

Going through MERP also gave Talwar the opportunity to learn valuable studying strategies, as well as the chance to create a strong friend base before she arrived in Dominica.

“Little things, like use color in your notes or write everything down again because the more you write the more you remember, and a big thing that I got out of MERP was the importance of studying in groups. When I was in college I didn’t study in group settings as much and when I got to MERP I met my roommate who ended up being my roommate all the way until the end of medical school, so we’ve actually done this journey together,” she said. “MERP was the chance for me to learn; to refine and solidify my study habits, which truly helped me be successful in medical school; and more than anything, it gave me my family on the island.”

Having graduated just a few short weeks ago, Talwar is looking forward to beginning the first stage of her medical career as a physician at Drexel University College of Medicine as an Internal Medicine (IM) resident. She explained that she chose IM as her specialty of choice because she wants to have the opportunity to build meaningful, lasting connections with her patients. 
“I truly love the essence of medicine, which is connecting with my patients and helping them and that’s when I realized IM was the best choice for me,” she said. “In residency, I am not only looking forward to being one of the frontline providers for my patients, but also being a teacher. Teaching is one of the best ways I learn. If it hasn’t come across already, I’m a huge nerd about medicine and am really excited to learn how to be the best physician I can be. I also look forward to meeting new people and working as a team to achieve the best possible outcome for my patients.”

When asked about her long-term medical career goals, Talwar noted that she would like to pursue a fellowship, saying, “A lot of the IM specialties call out to me and I am excited to explore each one during my rotations in residency. So far, my favorite is Gastroenterology but I’m keeping an open mind to all the specialties. One thing I know for sure is I want to play a role in academic medicine so I can give back to the new generation of physicians just like my mentors did for me.”

In keeping with that, she had some words of advice for future RUSM students:
“Medicine is something that you really have to want. It has to come from you. So, if medicine is your passion, don’t let anyone stop it,” she said. “At the end of the day, it’s going to be difficult. There are always going to be obstacles in the road, but if you love medicine then go for it. Medicine is a calling and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else, and I know there are a lot of students out there who feel the same way.”

Editor’s Update – With Drexel University College of Medicine Hahnemann Hospital’s closure in July 2019, Shikha will be completing her Residency at Cooper University Hospital at Rowan University in Camden, New Jersey.

In 2020, 91% of RUSM students passed the initial step of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) on the first attempt. And in 2022-2023, results show yet another strong year for RUSM with a 97% 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.

*First time residency attainment rate is the percent of students attaining a 2023-24 residency position out of all graduates or expected graduates in 2022-23 who were active applicants in the 2023 NRMP match or who attained a residency position outside the NRMP match.