CELEBRATING ALUMNI SUCCESS
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 16,000 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.
Partners in residency—and marriage
When they met on the plane on the way to medical school, the two had no idea they would eventually get engaged and both become Chief Residents at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock, Texas. That chance encounter brought them together to share the journey through medical school, residency and beyond.
Early experiences shaped their interest in medicine
“Internal Medicine is fascinating to me because of the wide variety of pathology types and patients,” says Dr. Sekhon. Emigrating from Punjab, India to Sacramento, California, as a child, Dr. Sekhon knew she wanted to be involved in healthcare since her teenage years. On her 19th birthday, her mother was severely injured in a car accident and endured multiple spinal surgeries. “Because of her accident, I became interested in medicine and spent five years working in the emergency room of a local hospital. After that, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.” While in the ER, she met an RUSM alum, who encouraged her to apply to medical school. Soon after, she was accepted at RUSM, pursuing a concentration in immunology and microbiology.
As a young child in Kansas City, Missouri, Dr. Rogers lived with his aunt, who suffered from epilepsy. He quickly learned to identify a seizure and the importance of having his aunt’s medicine nearby. The first in his family to graduate from college, Dr. Rogers also found his calling by working as a tech in the ER. “I was always fascinated by Internal Medicine,” says Dr. Rogers. You can examine the different disease processes and etiologies that affect all the organs in the body. That experience gave me a great foundation to pursue my interest in the physiology of cardiology.”
Learning medicine together right through residency
After a break from their undergraduate education, the two started medical school in the Medical Education Readiness Program (MERP). While in med school at RUSM, each discovered they shared a strong desire to focus on holistic patient care through the practice of Internal Medicine. While they studied together, their relationship blossomed, though at times they were in separate locations. “Although we studied for Step 1 in different states—he was in Kansas City, Missouri, and I was in California—we decided we were going to do the third and fourth year of medical school in the same city.”
Matching together at Texas Tech enhanced their relationship and their careers. “Brandon and I were lucky to both match at Texas Tech. We loved the Program Director, the location and the diverse patient population. It was our first choice and felt like home,” says Dr. Sekhon. “Two years later, we were doing well in our Internal Medicine residency rotations and evaluations and were selected by our peers to be Chief Residents. It’s an honor we weren’t expecting.”
Making time for work and each other
What do they like most about their Chief Resident status? “It comes with a lot of responsibility, lots of issues and scheduling to work out, lots of long hours and not much downtime to unwind,” says Dr. Sekhon. “But our co-residents treat us like family and that makes a challenging job much easier.” Of course, the most meaningful experience and primary focus for both doctors is providing care for patients. “Because many patients are low income and have limited access to care, many of the patients we treat have more advanced disease pathologies. We hope to help patients seek preventative treatment as early as possible,” explains Dr. Rogers.
Despite extremely busy schedules, they manage to carve out time for each other. “We can often squeeze in time to see each other while at lunch or lectures,” says Dr. Rogers. “It’s great to be able to share this experience together.”
In the future, both Dr. Sekhon and Dr. Rogers plan to pre-match into fellowships at Texas Tech; Dr. Sekhon in Hematology/Oncology and Dr. Rogers in Cardiology with an interest in invasive therapies or heart failure. Needless to say, they are looking forward to their wedding in May of 2022.
What is their advice for RUSM students? “Don’t let anything deter you. There are no limits, whatever your background. Know what you can accomplish and don’t give up,” says Dr. Sekhon.
Dr. Rogers emphasizes the importance of networking. “There is a huge network of RUSM alums eager to help you. We started our careers at RUSM and made lifelong colleagues and friends,” says Dr. Rogers. “It’s the people at RUSM that make it unique. I met the love of my life there. That makes RUSM an extra special place for me.”
Photo: Jasmine Sekhon, MD, and Brandon Rogers, MD