In 2020, 91% of RUSM students passed the initial step of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) on the first attempt. And in 2021-2022, results show yet another strong year for RUSM with a 95% 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.
From Chief Resident to Chief Medical Officer, Grad Has Rich Career
RUSM: Please tell us about your career path.
Galanopoulos: I did my residency at the University of Louisville Department of Family and Geriatric Medicine and served as one of the chief residents in my last year. During my time there, I was also the U.S. resident representative on the board of North American Primary Care Research Group (NAPCRG), which allowed me to combine my interests in clinical and research medicine.
After completing my residency, three of my colleagues and I moved to the rural town of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, to start a hospital-owned clinic. It was a hybrid of a walk-in clinic and a primary care practice. At the same time, I participated in the primary care arm of a community mental health center, working alongside psychiatry colleagues in a team-based patient-centered health clinic. During my last year in Kentucky, I served as the Chief Medical Officer of a new federally-qualified health center. In November 2014, I participated in a consultation group that reviewed Ross' health center on campus. In January 2015, I returned to Dominica to work as the interim medical director on campus.
RUSM: What was it like to direct the campus health center at RUSM after having been a student, and what changes did you make?
Galanopoulos: It was a fantastic feeling to come back to Dominica and serve the students and faculty. Student Health was just a little building in the back of campus when I was a student. Now, it has an emergency room and four exam rooms, and there is coordination between the campus team and behavioral health clinicians. The team does a great job of providing full-service healthcare for all of the campus community. It was also important for me to do outreach to the local doctors as well as the ones at Princess Margaret Hospital. This led to some successful meetings, which opened the lines of communication and streamlined processes for delivering healthcare to the campus community. We also started talks with the University Hospital of Martinique to aid in the medical evacuation of patients who require immediate assistance vs. patients who can be safely transported to Florida for care. (As a side note, I had to be evacuated myself in April for a kidney stone, so I experienced how smoothly the process works!)
Want a chance to ask Taki your questions about the Ross experience? Come meet him at our Vancouver Information Seminar Saturday, Oct. 15.
RUSM: What is the most interesting or unusual experience you’ve had in Dominica?
Galanopoulos: It’s hard to choose just one. I’ve monitored outbreaks of dengue fever and chicken pox on the island, worked with the local and national health authorities on developing plans to renovate the local hospital ER, and sat in on Director meetings after being a student (which was surreal).
RUSM: Could you speak to your student experience at RUSM?
Galanopoulos: I really enjoyed my time on the island as a student as well as during clinical rotations. I felt a deep connection with the island and my classmates. It felt like we all were going through something very special and I now have great friends I can visit in almost any major city in the U.S. It was an amazing experience academically as well as culturally. There is no doubt in my mind that the education that I received was top-quality and the professors had our best interests as well as that of our future patients at heart.
RUSM: What is your message for prospective students?
Galanopoulos: I urge all of them to take a serious look at why they want to become a physician and think hard about what they are willing to sacrifice to reach their goal. They should have no reservations once they commit to the idea of becoming a physician and have confidence in the fact that Ross will help them reach their potential. Along the way, they will make lifelong friendships and have a large network of alumni to help them.