From Alaska to Dominica: A 2019 Alumnus reflects on just how far he’s come – in miles, and milestones
“I’ve always known that I wanted to get my medial degree, so to finally be there, it’s difficult to describe how exciting it is. It’s just such a goal to complete,” he said.
Geraghty, who hails from Anchorage, AK, is also celebrating another major milestone, having just matched at Waterbury Hospital in Connecticut in General Surgery, his specialty of choice.
He described the National Resident Matching Program® as somewhat daunting, but noted he felt a high level of confidence about the process – right up until the weekend before the results were announced.
“It’s so up in the air,” he explained. “I was fine for the most part until the weekend before [when] I got really anxious. Getting that email first thing on Monday morning was definitely a relief. And then the excitement on Friday of finding out where – that I’m going to Waterbury and going to do General Surgery – that was amazing.”
For Geraghty, the experience of transitioning to medical school in Dominica was largely what he had expected; however, the tropical climate did take some getting used to.
“We get warm in Alaska, but nothing like down there. But as far as being on an island, [I’ve done] a lot of stuff out in rural Alaska, so I wasn’t worried about things like having the niceties. I came down with just a suitcase, not a barrel,” he joked.
He arrived at RUSM fully committed to doing whatever it took to succeed.
“Ross gives you the opportunity to succeed, but to actually succeed is up to you. Going in I had to rise to the occasion and make myself focus 100 percent. The maturity that comes with that level of responsibility is inherent, and I definitely have more now as I’m leaving Ross than I did going in,” he noted.
When asked what drew him to General Surgery, Geraghty explained that it all circles back to what attracted him to medicine in the first place.
“My brother was born with Down syndrome, so growing up I always had an interest in genetics and science,” he explained. “I ended up taking an anatomy class in high school and my teachers knew a couple doctors who came and spoke, and I loved anatomy and I said this is what I want to do.”
Geraghty’s passion for anatomy has not abated in the least. In his second semester at RUSM, he became an anatomy teaching assistant (TA) before becoming head TA and then chief TA, and noted that he feels that surgery is the “best application of anatomy in medicine.”
“When I got to rotations, I wanted to keep an open mind, but as soon as I did my surgery rotation – the first rotation I was on was trauma surgery – that’s when I was like, yes, surgery is for me,” he said.
He explained that it still hasn’t completely sunk in that he will soon be the one making the decisions, but thinks that having a little fear going into residency is probably a good thing.
“It’s a large step to go from medical student to doctor, so I’m looking forward to it – but it is daunting to be the one making the decisions. I know I’ll have a lot of oversight at first but still, it’s exciting but scary. I don’t think anyone is ever truly prepared for residency, but I feel I’m as prepared as I can be,” he said.
Beyond wanting to go home to Alaska to practice, Geraghty isn’t looking too far ahead of residency at this point, but is taking a well-earned moment to take stock of how far he’s come thanks to the opportunity he was given by RUSM.
“To me, Ross means opportunity,“ he said. “For a lot of people, it’s a last chance – do or die time. A lot of places don’t give you that opportunity; they don’t give you a chance. Ross will give you that chance, but then it’s up to you to make that chance matter.”