They met as students on the Dominica campus of Ross University School of Medicine. She graduated last November, and he was awarded his MD degree in January. They married in December and have now succeeded in the couples’ match to obtain residency placements together in their chosen specialty of psychiatry. They matched at their first choice, UCLA-Kern Psychiatry Residency Program at Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield, CA.
“I met my husband at the Sikh Student Association club at RUSM at the end of my third semester, the end of his first,” Dr. Bhatia, a native of Fresno, CA related. “We started dating in 2014, during my fourth semester, his second, and throughout the rest of our medical school journey. He is my rock, and we have supported each other through all the ups and downs of medical school.”
Dr. Kahlon grew up in the town of Selma, CA, in the San Joaquin Valley. “Selma is small farming community south of Fresno, CA,” he said. He went on to complete his undergraduate studies at the University of California, Irvine and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics in 2011. He then attended the Pre-Professional Health Academic Program (PHAP) at California State University, East Bay to fulfill his medical school entrance requirements. His wife, Dr. Bhatia, graduated from the University of California, Davis with a Bachelor’s in Biological Sciences with an emphasis on Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior in June 2012. Dr. Bhatia started at RUSM in September 2012.
Among their common interests is the medical field to which they wish to devote their professional careers: psychiatry. “Psychiatry is an aspect of medicine that is always growing,” explained Dr. Bhatia. “Psychiatry has such a stigma attached to what is known as mental illness that so many people shy away from receiving treatment due to shame. I want to help erase that stigma and want people to know that these mental illnesses are as real as congestive heart failure or as a pulmonary embolism.”
Dr. Kahlon said that, ”The area of medicine I am most interested in is psychiatry. Many times I saw mental health issues not being addressed and a patient’s psychical illness taking a toll as a result. During a psych consult, I was able to build such great relationships with patients and find out so much about them. Moreover, the amount of research and new findings that are coming out of the field are amazing and I want to be a part of this movement. I want to help eliminate the stigma that surrounds mental health issues. I want to educate not only my own patients but also citizens of the community. Awareness is key and I feel it can help alleviate some of the stigma.”
Looking back at their time on the Dominica campus, the couple has many positive things to say. “I absolutely loved my experience in Dominica,” Dr. Bhatia said. “I felt that RUSM provided the perfect study environment with no distractions. I studied in the cubicles in the library every day for my four semesters, and grew to know all the students around me. I felt that everyone at RUSM was a little family, and felt comfort in knowing that everyone was going through the same rigorous curriculum together. I enjoyed my little study breaks to the beach, which were much needed for the hectic medical school curriculum.”
Dr. Kahlon echoed these sentiments. “Overall, my experience was great on the island of Dominica and I wouldn’t replace it for the world. I was able to focus on my studies and had everything I needed available to me. The campus was very advanced and the study lounges were perfect to study long hours. The faculty and staff at RUSM were very helpful and responsive to all students. Certain faculty that I worked with would put in late hours with me before exams and stay as long as I needed. Moreover, I was able to meet some amazing people whom I can call my lifetime friends, most importantly my wife.”