ROBERT ASSIBEY, MD '17
San Joaquin General Hospital
ROBERT ASSIBEY MD '17
FAMILY MEDICINE CHIEF RESIDENT ● SAN JOAQUIN GENERAL HOSPITAL
Some people are born leaders, and it seems Robert Assibey, MD ’17, is one of them. Now in the third year of his Family Medicine residency at San Joaquin General Hospital (SJGH) in French Camp, CA, Assibey serves as Chief Resident for 2019-2020 – an experience that he describes as “humbling.”
“It is an honor,” he said. “Humbling, because you have to get the trust of your colleagues and faculty to select you; it was definitely a good feeling to know that everyone believes you can do the job.”
This isn’t the first time Assibey has been recognized for his hard work during his time at SJGH, however. At the end of his first year, Assibey entered – and won – a California Academy of Family Physicians (CAFP) poster contest, which gave him the opportunity to present at the Academy’s annual conference, where he subsequently won the CAFP Presenter of the Year award.
At the conference, Assibey was approached by a number of attendees asking if he had any interest in taking on leadership roles. Soon after, he became one of two CAFP student resident co-directors, which allowed him to serve as a delegate at the National Conference of Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students and vote on various legislative issues, both within California and nationally.
Earlier this year, he again entered – and won – the CAFP poster contest and returned to the conference to win not only the Presenter of the Year award for a second time, but also the CAFP Resident of the Year award, which Assibey described as a “huge shock.”
“[It] was probably one of the most humbling things that I’ve ever received,” he said. “When that happened, I thought back to my journey to even get there; as an IMG [international medical graduate] you’re afraid of even matching, let alone matching and then being deemed Resident of the Year, so it was an extremely honoring experience – I didn’t even know I was being considered.”
Assibey’s drive to become a physician stems from his parents, who were both nurses. His mother was particularly inspirational, however.
“I grew up with the mentality of always wanting to help people,” he explained. “As a child, my mom had a bunch of medical conditions, and part of my motivation was to get to a profession where I would be able to take care of her [so that] she wouldn’t have to constantly work while she was sick. So, in a nutshell, I would say it was my mom who was my major motivator.”
Assibey decided to apply to RUSM after failing to get into medical school in the United States.
“I had a family friend whose daughter had gone to Ross [University School of Medicine], and they pushed the idea to me,” he said. “I looked into it, applied, got in, and the rest is history.”
Assibey described his experience at RUSM as being very motivational.
“It was tough, but it caused me to push myself to be better and be self-sufficient so that when I got to residency I was able to withstand a lot of things,” he noted. “Throughout my life I have fallen a lot, and Ross gave me the opportunity to show everyone what I could do and the capabilities I have, and that’s brought me to where I am now. Had I not gotten into Ross, I don’t know where I would be right now.”
As Assibey looks toward the future, he is quite sure of one thing – he wants to focus his skills and attention on underserved communities and would like, one day, to open multiple Federally Qualified Health Centers, and even provide care internationally in underserved countries.
“I’m very passionate about underserved populations,” he said. “My family is from Ghana, West Africa, and part of why I chose Family Medicine is that I wanted a specialty that would be able to provide me with enough knowledge to be able to take care of a wide variety of things. I want to, at some point, go back to Ghana and provide medical help, and having a wide [body of] knowledge allows me to be able to do that and offer services where there otherwise aren’t so, eventually.”
At the moment, however, Assibey is looking forward to his third year of residency, where he plans to continue to give it his all – especially for his mother.
“I try to work half as hard as my mom ever worked, and that’s what has gotten me to where I am now,” he said.