For wellness support, please reach out to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) national hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) in the United States or Support Services Counseling at 246-245-1622 in Barbados. You can also email the RUSM Wellness Team at


Though there may not be audible words or visible actions, wellness counselors at Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) are trained to recognize that anyone could experience difficulties at any time, whether it’s mental health challenges or managing stress. And they understand how to tackle the unique stressors of medical school that RUSM students may experience.

“When someone feels overwhelmed, we need to acknowledge the pain and instill hope,” explained Shannon Evans, DSW, LCSW, former director of the RUSM Wellness & Counseling Center. “We need to come together as a community to take care of one another. Some may benefit from talk therapy, learning new ways to cope or from Mind-Body Medicine (MBM) techniques. We work alongside students to help them find their unique strengths, and tailor support to what works best for them.”

Student Nikki Carrido, a former MBM ambassador, reminds fellow students that practicing self-care and maintaining positive mental health has never been more vital to future success, both academically and personally. “We need to change the culture in medicine of chronic stress that leads to burnout… this unhealthy lifestyle we find ourselves in — the all-nighters, running through lectures and going 12 hours straight. Students and physicians need to understand — You Matter. Your Mind Matters. Your Mental Health Matters.”   

Available Support

Supporting students through their four-year medical school journey are the RUSM wellness counseling teams — housed in Barbados and in the United States, and accessible to students both in-person and virtually. “If someone needs help navigating mental health challenges and managing stress, we are available,” reassured Dr. Evans, adding that these services are particularly helpful for first-semester students. “It’s an adjustment when you arrive in a new country, city, or place with no context of what it’s like. You’re meeting new people and entering a field that is so fulfilling yet has high rates of burn out, depression and anxiety.”

It’s also been an unusual year, added Robert Gee, EdD, manager of clinical student support and professor of behavioral sciences. “Many of us have either experienced burnout firsthand or have a friend who has suffered from burnout. This past year, the pandemic has only intensified an already significant problem.”

Regarding the industry and its toll on mental health, clinical sciences counselor Maria Angelica Mejia, PhD, LMFT, said, “physicians are made not by having it easy. Physicians are made when they recognize the human needs in their patients and in themselves during the most challenging of times, the human need of social connection and empathy. Once you are able to seek out help when needed and connect with your empathy, you become resilient. Once you can become resilient, you can handle anything that may come your way as a physician.”

Proactively Preparing Students

Mental health and wellness are a community affair; support begins on Day 1 at student orientation and continues throughout your medical school journey. Available services include:

  • Initial Screening
  • Individual Counseling
  • Health and Wellness Coaching
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Suicide Prevention Programming
  • Wellness Events


“The practice of wellness starts with mental health,” reminded Director Dahlia Gibson, PsyD, MSc. “My well-being is dependent on my mental health and a daily dose of good mental health enhances my well-being.”

Wellness Resources / Team

Our wellness and counseling teams are available to support students one-on-one or through webinars, workshops and other activities, hosted by Campus Life in Barbados, Clinical Student Affairs in Miramar, FL and several student-managed organizations. Wellness resources — free and confidential — are available for all medical and clinical science students. For more information, please email


Barbados Wellness Team

Dr. Dahlia Gibson, Director

Dahlia Gibson 2

“The opportunity to work in a meaningful way with students to successfully navigate the journey to become a physician has been an honor for me. Mental health and holistic wellness are vital components to reaching such a destination. As a counselor and health and wellness coach, I get to offer an integrated approach to the promotion of overall wellbeing. Prioritizing your mental health is the number one thing you can do for yourself and your patients. We are here to work with you, to support you and ultimately empower you to be your best self.”


Mrs. Chikere Thomas, Medical Sciences Counselor

Chikere Thomas 2

“Our work is gratifying; the interaction with students helps to reinforce the importance of daily wellness. Our team can help you to actively make choices to create and maintain balance as you navigate medical school. Balance can be achieved by prioritizing dimensions of wellness (social, physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual/occupational). For example, journal down your thoughts and worries, and ensure to stay connected with your family and friends frequently to avoid isolation.”



United States Wellness Team

Dr. Robert Gee, Assistant Dean, Student Affairs; Professor, Behavioral Sciences

Robert Gee 2

“Our work is hard, consuming, and draining. Our professional standards, ethics, and patient care demand excellence. At times, it can be easy to think we have to be perfect and, consequently, feel like we let our family or others down and have failed. Reaching out about your personal and/or professional challenges can help your friends and colleagues to do the same. Please reach out to someone you trust and a member of the RUSM Wellness teams — we are in this together. The life and/or career you save may be your own.”


Dr. Maria Angelica Mejia, Clinical Sciences Counselor

Maria Mejia

“Choose courage over comfort” — Brene Brown





Dr. Amy Martinez, Clinical Sciences Counselor

Amy Martinez 2

“Happiness is the highest form of health” — Dalai Lama

“As you navigate the challenges of medical school, please consider RUSM Wellness as a resource for support and personal growth.”





Upcoming “Student Well-being Survey”

Please stay tuned for the upcoming “Student Well-Being Survey” that will be sent to your inbox on Monday, June 28. Please complete by July 12; it should take less than 10 minutes. 

We understand you can experience ongoing and significant environmental and social challenges. We hope this survey will help us gain a better understanding of your wellness needs and, more importantly, ways we can help.

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.