Growing up, Martina had a natural curiosity about the world and people around her. Captivated by her science classes in school, she would read up on concepts that piqued her interest. In particular, she found herself fascinated by the human body and disease. When friends came to her with their health and medical questions, from “I don’t know why my foot hurts…” to “My mom has a headache that won’t go away…” Martina was happy to look it up.
It didn’t take long for her to realize that maybe being a doctor wasn’t just a childhood dream.
Fast-forward a few years, and this Quebec native is on her way to making that dream a reality. Martina is the recipient of a Community Health Leadership Award, a scholarship that recognizes students who have made significant contributions to their communities through volunteer work or research.
“Pursuing my MD at Ross complements my drive to always be the best at what I do,” said Martina. “I want to push myself out of my comfort zone and be in an environment where I know I will thrive in becoming a physician.”
The Road to Medical School
Martina’s ambition flourished during college at New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, where she earned a full athletic scholarship as an NCAA Division I tennis player. Amid a demanding tennis schedule, she pursed a bachelor’s degree in chemistry with a minor in environmental science—and earned Dean’s List honors throughout her college career. In addition, she shadowed a local orthopedic surgeon in Livingston, N.J., and spent a summer volunteering at Pierre-Le Gardeur Hospital in her hometown of Terrebonne, Quebec.
After graduating from NJIT, she decided to further strengthen her clinical experience by taking on a research assistant position at Sainte-Justine Hospital in Montreal. Here, she had the opportunity to work closely with physicians on inflammable colon diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, in pediatric patients.
“I was able to interact with everyone there—patients, doctors, parents,” Martina said of her experience at Sainte-Justine. “I completely fell in love with it.”
Her passion for medicine confirmed, Martina began the application process for medical school. But her options were limited.
Most of the medical schools in Martina’s native Quebec conduct their curricula in French. While Martina spoke French very well, she had just spent her undergraduate years in New Jersey, learning the sciences in English. Attending a French-speaking medical school would mean having to translate her foundational knowledge—four years of complex, scientific education—just to get on a level playing field.
In addition, medical schools in other Canadian provinces (that teach in in English) were extremely competitive. As Martina had completed her bachelor’s degree in the U.S., she would be considered an international applicant—making it even more difficult for her to gain admission.
That’s when Martina began looking into Caribbean medical schools, where some of her friends had enrolled. One thing that drew her to Ross was the organ systems-based curriculum that organizes the teaching of medicine by systems within the body, like the digestive or respiratory systems. This approach, which mirrors how medicine is actually practiced, gives you a big-picture look at the physiological, anatomical, and biochemical processes of an organ system all at once.
“Ross was one of the only schools that had a systems-based curriculum, and the class size was smaller than some other schools,” said Martina.
Finding a Home
Having arrived at Dominica several weeks ago, Martina is taking advantage of all that Ross has to offer. “The simulation center and anatomy lab are amazing,” Martina said. “You can do dissections; you can see everything. Many of my friends that are in medical school do not have the opportunity to dissect or even go into a simulation center this early, which restricts hands-on learning.”
And beyond the academics, Martina has found a home in the Ross community.
“There’s a great little community here,” she said. “We’re not a huge class, and everyone is super friendly. You’re all in the same boat. I got here on the 29th of December at 11 p.m., and by the 30th, I had met people who I think are going to be my best friends.”
Her advice for pre-med students? “Think about how you are as a person, and look for a school that you can relate to,” she said. “I’m a people person—I like to get to know my classmates and be part of a community. Ross has been an amazing experience for me.”
Have questions for Martina about her Ross experience? She encourages students considering Ross to reach out to her with any questions you may have. You can email her at MartinaTripcovici@students.rossu.edu.