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.
Through Catchy Kid Songs, Two PM&R Physicians Become Public Health Liaisons
It was the perfect blind date that led to the sweet sounds of toe-tapping, bee-bopping rap tunes that send a clear message to the younger crowd. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Two med school graduates from sister institutions found their niche — taking the medical advice given to their adult patients and converting it into snappy tunes with a splash of silly dance moves.
Meet Drs. Bop ’n Pop — Rashad Ahmed, MD and Yousaf Chowdhry, MD, 2013 graduates of Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) and American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC), respectively. Their sweet nature and grounded family demeanor are nearly identical, and their musical chemistry is undeniable. You’d never know that they met through video chat only once before embarking on this harmonious journey.
“We probably had an album ready before we ever met,” Ahmed laughed. “It just shows how effortless our relationship has been especially with music and medicine. Also, we have similar hobbies in general and very similar backgrounds. We hit it off.” Chowdhry agreed.
Singing on the Highway
Both physicians turn their work commute into studio time. Swapping voice memos all day long — each eager to hear back from the other. Chowdhry will shoot over a thought and Ahmed will hit back with a tune and lyrics, usually within 24 hours. Then they get their boogie on, add in family back-up crew and belt out lyrics in front of separate green screens. Next, Ahmed works his video magic and voila — they’ve just listed a new tune on YouTube.
Not even a year in, the singing-dancing pair have streamed more than 30 songs and nearly 40 videos, racking up more than 250,000 likes and retweets. They’ve also debuted across the nation’s airwaves — both on radio and TV. Morning hosts clamor for live shows, teachers sing their praises and the medical community stands proud. And they’re just getting started.
“Nothing beats the feeling of hearing the kids sing our lyrics back to us,” Chowdhry said, especially when the words echo the health and safety necessary during the pandemic. Their songs empower children to take control of COVID-19 — “this invisible monster.”
Music Matched the Times
At the start, their musical lyrics began hyping preventative medicine — teaching important lessons about anti-bullying and healthy eating as well as sharing patient testimonials. And then COVID-19 hit, and their music fell right in line with what was needed to help children get through this scary, unpredictable time.
One of their biggest hits to date is the original Mask Around Me song with more than 600,000 views. And they’ve just released another relevant song video for children following a hybrid school schedule — the Yellow School Bus Mask.
Both doctors have hit several milestones in their careers, and now they strive to do the same musically. With young families at home, time is not abundant, yet they find a way. Supportive wives and an endless volume of positive medical messages help their creativity flow. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
“We’re as busy as you can be,” Chowdhry explained. “We’re two full-time physicians, we’re fathers, we have families” but that didn’t stop him or Ahmed from giving up their dream. And now they want to pay it forward with words of inspiration. “You’re always going to think someone can do it better. But the way to do it best, is to do it the way only you would be able to do it. Nobody can be you, better than you. Find a way to combine everything that makes you, you — your education, hobbies, experiences. Be bold and put yourself out there.” Ahmed also shares his secret for balancing it all.
Don’t Burn Out
Another goal is to inspire fellow physicians to follow their lead — to pause from the intense world of medicine, even if it’s for a few minutes each day. Ahmed started a study-break routine during med school by picking up his guitar for 10 minutes. “I would feel refreshed. It helps work on the different hemisphere of my brain and gives me moments to recover and recuperate so that I’m ready to reabsorb information again.” In retrospect, Chowdhry wished he had learned the importance of keeping outside hobbies sooner in his academic journey.
But now, they are both in sync — taking regular mental breaks as professionals. Which encourages them to happily plow through each workday, in anticipation of their next musical adventure. “It changes the monotony of everything,” Ahmed said.
Coincidentally ‘twinning’ at every stage in life, Ahmed and Chowdhry also share the same career path — serving as physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists by day. And at sunset, they jam out tunes their young families can enjoy. “No matter what phase of life, music is always there.”
Thinking back, the pair is humbled about how they met. As their musical success continues, both doctors provide words of wisdom for aspiring students. Ahmed urges them to cherish island life and stay resilient while Chowdhry gives advice he wished he had followed — “Don’t be so laser focused on what you think you want your future to look like. Be dynamic.”
Check out Drs. Bop ’n Pop’s Mask Song for Kids album, now streaming with 15 of their hits, their eBooks — Virus and Mask Around Me and their YouTube and Instagram pages. Stay tuned for much more including a flu shot song to debut soon.