In 2020, 91% of RUSM students passed the initial step of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) on the first attempt. And in 2019-2020, the first-time residency attainment rate for RUSM students was 92%. 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.
An insider’s look at RUSM Clinical Rotations—third-year student Ryan Azarkhail’s student journey
How did your Clinical Rotations shape what you want to do in your future career as a physician?
It is not an overstatement to say that Clinical Rotations have had a profound impact on my perspective, development, and interests as a future physician. Dating back to my undergrad days, I have always had a deep passion for human anatomy. I see myself doing something that will allow me to provide quality patient care from beginning to end. I find myself leaning towards Internal Medicine (to potentially specialize), Anesthesia, and Psychiatry.
I’m aiming to do something that offers direct patient care mixed with hands-on procedures. For example, while I enjoyed doing routine patient check-ups during one outpatient Internal Medicine rotation, I also enjoyed working in the inpatient ICU, where I was often required to interpret complicated, multilayered medical issues involving patients on ventilators, ECMO machines, Ventricular Assist Devices, feeding tubes, and/or multiple IV drips.
Through my research experience from third year, I aspire to position myself in a specialty where I can be at the cutting edge of medicine. There is infinite room for growth, development, and advancement in health care, and I hope to push the envelope.
What did you discover about yourself and the field of medicine during your time in Clinical Sciences?
Although I am ultimately undecided regarding my specialty of focus, being physically in the hospital and clinic has helped guide my interests, hone my clinical skills, and appreciate the human nature of medicine. Through being hands-on, I discovered that I enjoy fostering relationships with patients, being involved in continuity of care, working with a medical team, facilitating treatment plans, being challenged, and learning new skills. While Basic Sciences laid the foundation, it was Clinical Sciences that allowed me to truly unearth these interests.
I learned very quickly through my clinical work in IM, Surgery, OB/GYN and Psychiatry that the field of medicine is all about forcing yourself outside of your comfort zone, acknowledging that you will not always know the right answer, and being eager to cultivate meaningful, constructive relationships with patients and fellow healthcare professionals.
What resources have been helpful?
In medical school where the scheduling demands and curriculum expectations can sometimes feel daunting, fortunately, there are an abundance of resources and support available to ease the load. The majority of my support came from my fellow peers. However, with my fourth year around the corner, I find myself leaning more and more on Clinical Advising, the Office of Career Advising, and Financial Advising.
What are the most important things you learned from your clinical experience so far?
My time at Cleveland Clinic Florida and Atlanta Medical Center has proven invaluable for my clinical and professional development. Working with real patients, witnessing life-saving procedures, and learning from accomplished physicians allowed me to significantly hone my clinical knowledge and skillset. Nothing compares to first-hand knowledge.
Seeing the human side of medicine left a lasting, deeply resonating impression. Empathy, time, and personability go a very long way in patient care. That was the case with one of my patients who was suffering from Crohn’s disease and had just come off major surgery. At the end of my rounds, I took my patient for a walk, striking up small talk as we went. Before I knew it, it had become a daily routine for us. I was astonished at how rapidly her mood and energy levels improved and how it really helped her recovery. When she was discharged, she thanked me profusely. What felt like such a small act for me meant the world to her. While science fuels the field, genuine human interaction drives it.