Experiences on the Caribbean island of Dominica and working a rotation in New York when COVID-19 hit will give Rida the edge needed to begin her internal medicine residency in the intensive care unit at Ascension St. John Hospital, Detroit, in July.

“I was in a pathology rotation when COVID began so I didn’t have any direct patient contact,” Rida said, describing the temperament shift during her last two weeks. “There was a lot of fear because of the uncertainty.”

But now that she’s no longer a student, the front-line view has changed. “I am excited to put my knowledge and skills to use even though starting residency during a global pandemic is not an ideal situation for learning. Still, I can’t wait to provide even a little relief to all the physicians who have been fighting tirelessly thus far.”

Born in Pakistan and immigrating to Canada with her family as a toddler, the avid hiker and fiction reader wasn’t sure of her career path. “Being a doctor was always in the back of my mind,” especially when she recounted the stories from her mom who practiced medicine in Pakistan. “I liked science and helping people and it became the perfect fit – the best of both worlds.”

Rida spent her first rotation in internal medicine and was immediately hooked, using it as the measuring bar for all other specialties. “You’re a bit of a detective – you have a problem you’re trying to solve and I appreciate the diagnostic approach behind it.”

The second oldest of five children in her family, Rida said working clinicals was better than she ever imagined. “Each patient interaction is so unique and can change a person’s life. To see it play out is great – it’s all your hard work coming to fruition.”

Over the last couple years, Rida has had some memorable patient connections. One teenage patient was deemed noncompliant with medications because of her age and immaturity. But Rida had a hunch there might be more to the diagnosis so she investigated further and ended up being right. “Sometimes you have to think outside the box. It was so gratifying to be that missing link.”  

During Rida’s obstetrics rotation, she became the emotional support for a young woman in labor who came to the hospital alone. Over two shifts, Rida stood by her through labor and then performed the newborn check-up. “It was such a personal experience. To be a complete stranger 24 hours before and then to be part of one of the most important, intimate and memorable experiences of her life… that feeling is unparalleled. That’s what I was talking about – that amazing patient connection.”

In 2020, 91% of RUSM students passed the initial step of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) on the first attempt. And in 2022-2023, results show yet another strong year for RUSM with a 98% 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.

*First time residency attainment rate is the percent of students attaining a 2023-24 residency position out of all graduates or expected graduates in 2022-23 who were active applicants in the 2023 NRMP match or who attained a residency position outside the NRMP match.