It’s been a whirlwind journey with starts, stops, doubts and re-evaluations for Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) student Priscilla Auguste, MHS. But with news of a residency Match on Monday, March 15, she is elated to be on a steady incline toward her first job as ‘doctor.’
“My heart was beating a mile a minute. I was so nervous,” Priscilla recounted about the culmination of the National Resident Matching Program® (The MATCH ℠) process, which she recorded live and posted on social media. On July 1, she will join UAMS Health – Family Medical Center in Jonesboro, Arkansas. “A notification popped up and the sneak peek showed me the first line said ‘congratulations.’ I still was a little shocked and unsure and seeing that made my heart beat even faster. All my years of medical school flashed before my eyes — that semester when I got sick, the Fall semester when the hurricane hit, finishing the second year on the ship, COVID-19 flipping my life upside down… It was such a torrent of emotions — all in one moment — because in that moment, I knew my path was set and safe.”
After filing her rank order list for residency placement last month, Priscilla busied her mind and filled her days by preparing five of nine presentations given by the Trainee Advisory Committee (TAC) at the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) 2021 Conference held last week. The CUGH TAC chair even earned this year’s CUGH Velji Student Leader in Global Health Award the day before MATCH week launched. “Everything was coming together, and I thought, ‘ok, I might actually match’.”
Giving Back at RUSM
Priscilla has spent the better part of her RUSM tenure serving as a mentor to students, researcher who founded the Ross Academic Research Society, organizer of student-alumni connections and promoter of global health programs — all initiatives she plans to continue and broaden as a physician. Aside from school organizations, Priscilla serves as the 2021 American Family Physician Journal Editorial Board student representative, with a dual role of assisting with journal reviews and contributing to the group’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Taskforce.
The sixth of seven children born to immigrant Haitian parents, Priscilla always had a passion for science and mathematics. She started her college career in nursing school but never certified because it seemed her career pointed elsewhere. When her first med school application wasn’t accepted, she earned a master’s of health science in epidemiology from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Then she tried med school again and RUSM became the winning ticket.
“The road had been so up and down, and I began to question whether I was going in the right direction,” Priscilla said about her undergrad switch from University of Florida to St. Mary’s College of Maryland as well as her first attempt at med school. “When you come from an underserved background, you don’t understand that even a great school may not be the right fit for you. When things don’t go the way you expect or want, you begin to lose confidence.”
But Priscilla noticed a monumental shift in 2018 as she began clinical rotations and her involvement with CUGH. “Things started ramping up. There were challenges, of course, with shelf exams and preparing for boards, but I began getting involved in discussions about things that mattered to me like global health inequities, and I realized I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.”
Hoping to one day improve the Haitian healthcare system and start a podcast about underrepresented minorities in education, Priscilla offers advice to the younger RUSM population. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help every step of the way. You don’t need to do this alone.”
As she reflects on her journey, Priscilla refers to MATCH week as “pivotal,” a time she hopes to always cherish. “I knew that every moment of sweat, lost sleep and long hours was worth it,” she said about her MATCH email on Monday. “I know now 100% that on July 1st, I’m not just going to be a doctor, I’m going to be a working Family Medicine physician.”
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