Internal Medicine Residency
UPR University District Hospital in Puerto Rico
Dr. Josué Alejandro Ocasio Tapia, a UMHS Class of 2019 graduate, was pleased to learn he was starting an Internal Medicine residency at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) University District Hospital in the summer of 2019. Dr. Ocasio Tapia is among many successful UMHS grads who have matched in their Puerto Rican homeland.
Dr. Ocasio Tapia grew up in Vega Alta, Puerto Rico. He admits he did not always want to be a doctor. He received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in accounting and a minor in management from the University of Puerto Rico, Arecibo campus.
During his second year of college, he was hired to work at the Dr. Karl Lang Cardiopulmonary Institute as an administrative assistant. While working there he learned how medicine gives one the privilege and responsibility to help others. “My passion for medicine started to grow,” he said.
“Throughout my life, I discovered I had a passion to serve others, since early in adolescence I participated in community activities mainly for the special education department for elementary school in the town of Manatí, as well as visiting nursing homes during Christmas time to bring music, food, supplies and family activities for the residents,” he said.
Many factors convinced Dr. Ocasio Tapia to choose UMHS over other Caribbean medical schools. In addition to the high Step 1 pass rate at UMHS, he found a conference given by Earl Mainer, UMHS Senior Associate Director of Admissions for the Southeast and Puerto Rico, especially informative and inspiring.
“When I went to the conference held by Earl in Puerto Rico, I learned about all the resources UMHS offers to help us reach our degree, how they make the moving process and adaptation easier and smoother for us, and the fact that they don’t see you as an MCAT score or GPA; UMHS looks at your potential and passion to become a doctor and put everything in place to guide you throughout the process. This helped me decide on going to UMHS,” he said.
Click to read more about Dr. Ocasio Tapia's first-rate education at UMHS, one that successfully prepared him for a career in medicine. He has high praise for the professors and professionals he worked with in basic sciences and clinical rotations.
"It's hard to pick one great UMHS professor or clinical rotation doctor; every one of them made this journey achievable and transmitted their knowledge in such a way that it awakens your desire to emulate them."
Residency in OB/GYN
Bridgeport Hospital in Connecticut, Affiliated with Yale University
UMHS Class of 2019 graduate Dr. Laura Tafuri started an OB-GYN residency at Bridgeport Hospital (affiliated with Yale University) in Connecticut in the summer of 2019. It is truly a case of coming full circle. “I was actually born at Yale in New Haven, so I think it’s funny that now I am a resident in the Yale system,” she said.
Dr. Laura Tafuri has wanted to become a doctor for as long as she can remember because for her, medicine is a family affair. Her dad is a Family Medicine physician and her mother was an ICU nurse while Dr. Tafuri was growing up. “So there was no shortage of medical talk at the dinner table and I loved it.”
Her father helped spark her interest in health care at an early age. “I remember when I was six years old, he bought me a hot pink stethoscope,” she said. “I would go to his office carrying it around, and listen to every heart I could. I think that started my fascination with the profession and of the human body.”
After completing a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Marist College in New York, she wanted to attend medical school. She was encouraged by her father to study medicine outside the USA.
“My father went to medical school in Mexico and always told me that leaving to go abroad for school would be worth it and would make me a stronger physician,” she said. “I can now say I believe the same.”
A family friend told her about UMHS in St. Kitts and, from her first interaction with the North American Administrative Office in New York City, everyone was friendly and attentive. “I took the train into New York City for my interview with [Director of Marketing] Ryan Ross and left with a very positive feeling about the school and how they could help me achieve my goals,” she said. “Having three start dates a year also was a huge plus, as I wanted to graduate and get started immediately to keep my momentum."
Once she was accepted and started UMHS, she knew she made the right decision. Dr. Tafuri was particularly impressed with the faculty and staff at UMHS in St. Kitts, Maine and in clinical rotations. The preceptors and residents in clinical rotations were especially helpful for Dr. Tafuri. “I was lucky to have a truly amazing group of preceptors and residents that molded me personally and professionally along the way and for that I am so thankful,” she said. “I never shied away from the rotations that had notoriously demanding schedules or preceptors that expected a lot from their students.”
The clinical experience at UMHS was invaluable to her. Dr. Tafuri also had the chance to work on cutting-edge medical research while working on a General Surgery rotation at a Connecticut hospital. “They gave me the opportunity to write my first case report and present a poster at a statewide surgical research day in Connecticut. This was later submitted and accepted for presentation at the annual conference for the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES), in Seattle, Washington.”
Through the outstanding connections she made while in clinical rotations at UMHS, Dr. Tafuri ended up getting an OB-GYN residency at Bridgeport Hospital Yale New Haven Health.
"The quality foundation from amazing professors I received at UMHS was crucial. I think the professors we had are the strongest aspect of this school. They are not only amazing teachers but also they genuinely care about you doing well. Professor of Biochemistry, Dr. Prakash Mungli is amazing; he absolutely loves Biochemistry and will stand at a whiteboard in his office, drawing cycles out over and over until you really grasp it. His PowerPoints and reviews are so good I have referenced them when I needed a refresher after Basic Sciences. Professor of Neuroscience Dr. Michael Doherty has been a huge supporter academically and personally. He cares so much about his students doing well on and off the island, and goes out of way to check in and give great pep talks during tough times."
Learn more about this gifted young doctor’s story in our official university blog.
Residency in Internal Medicine
UPMC Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Dr. Jerome Couture, UMHS Class of 2019 graduate, originally wanted to become a veterinarian. While studying health sciences as an undergraduate at the University of Ottawa, Dr. Couture discovered he really wanted to help other human beings. “Studying the health sciences made me realize how much I loved learning about health and the human body,” so he decided to become a physician. After attending UMHS in St. Kitts, he matched in Internal Medicine at UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center) Mercy in Pennsylvania.
Dr. Couture is from Stratford, Quebec, Canada, near the U.S. border of Maine and Vermont. Because Canadian medical schools are so competitive, he decided to apply to Caribbean medical schools to make sure that all my options were covered. He was pleased when he was accepted to UMHS in sunny St. Kitts. “Who gets to say they studied in a warm, tropical location?”
Dr. Couture explains that it was the electives he took during clinical rotations at UMHS that truly helped him choose Internal Medicine as a specialty.
“To be honest, I was never quite sure what I wanted to do at first,” he said. “Ultimately, it’s only when I started my electives with subspecialists in the field of Internal Medicine that I realized how great their lifestyles were. Not only were they able to pursue knowledge through Internal Medicine, they had the flexibility to work regular hours; they worked both outpatient and inpatient; and they had the flexibility to perform certain surgical procedures. Having seen and experienced this, I knew Internal Medicine was for me.”
The opportunity for continual growth is what interests him the most about Internal Medicine. “Internal Medicine allows you the flexibility to develop into whatever physician you wish to be,” he said.
“The tools that UMHS provided for me allowed me to push my limits and score well on the step exams. Entering residency is a competitive business, so doing well on those exams was a must for me. Moreover, having done rotations in different regions of the USA, I was able to further develop my ‘people’ skills, which I believe helped me do well on my interviews. My experiences in St. Kitts, as well as the different U.S. states I had the opportunity to do my clerkships in, allowed me to view healthcare from different perspectives. I also had the opportunity to meet people from all over the United States, Canada, and other regions of the world, developing long-lasting relationships in the process.”
Residency in Anesthesiology
McLaren Health Care in Michigan
Class of 2019 UMHS graduate Dr. Shane O’Toole always wanted to be a doctor but was initially rejected from medical schools and even considered becoming a physician’s assistant, but he persevered and applied to UMHS in St. Kitts. The outstanding medical education at UMHS helped him obtain an Anesthesiology residency at McLaren Health Care in Michigan.
He was fortunate to discover UMHS in St. Kitts and get accepted. He graduated from UMHS at the top of his class. He is now an anesthesiologist at McLaren Health Care, one of the most prestigious hospitals in the Upper Midwest. Dr. O’Toole chose UMHS for many reasons. The school’s reputation for outstanding individual attention and faculty recruited mainly from the USA and Canada made the decision to attend UMHS a no-brainer.
The state-of-the-art campus facilities and first-rate anatomy lab, and such options as the Extended Basic Sciences (EBS) program, were a big plus.
“Another thing that caught my eye was the labs, from the anatomy lab with a 6-1 student-to-cadaver ratio which allowed everyone to get the experience of dissection, to the simulation lab where we could practice on the mannequins and learn our clinical skills,” he said. “I believe having this hands-on experience benefited my learning greatly. When looking at the school, I also liked the accelerated class set up. I ended up choosing EBS instead of the MED [Basic Science] program, but I feel like having the options of ARP, EBS and MED is beneficial for different students.”
Dr. O’Toole has been interested in Anesthesiology ever since he worked as an endoscopy technician and saw how crucial the role of an anesthesiologist is in a hospital.
“A patient may come in for a simple procedure, but the anesthesiologist is the one watching the EKG to monitor the heart, watching the vent to make sure the patient is being properly ventilated, watching the fluid intake and output through the IV and making sure everything else is functioning smoothly throughout the procedure,” he said. “It is really a specialty where you need to account for every organ system and think of the patient as a whole.”
UMHS provided Dr. O’Toole with the skills necessary to work in this important area of medicine. Dr. O’Toole feels the clinical experience he gained at UMHS was key in helping him obtain a residency in Anesthesiology.
“UMHS had many opportunities, such as standardized patient interviews, introduction to clinical medicine 1 and 2, along with the entire Maine semester that really allowed me to interact with patients for the first time and learn how to communicate properly and how to ask questions effectively in order to get the information I need to create a differential diagnosis and plan. During clinical rotations, I was also asked to complete NIH stroke scale certification during my internal medicine rotation. I believe having these to strengthen my application gave me more of an edge. There are also many individuals through the school who assisted with the application and Match process. This helped me better understand timelines and steps that needed to be completed prior to applying for residency.”
Click here to read his full interview and learn how UMHS helped Dr. O’Toole launch a successful career as a physician.
Internal Medicine Residency
MedStar Baltimore in Maryland
For as long as he can remember, UMHS 2018 graduate Dr. Arjun S. Kanwal always wanted to become a doctor. “I never had a ‘moment’ where I decided ‘Hey, I think I want to be a doctor.’ It was more of an organic thought from the time I was old enough to remember thoughts,” he said.
Dr. Kanwal, a native of Potomac, Maryland, received his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from the University of Maryland. He decided to go the Caribbean route for medical school. He admits that, when he interviewed at UMHS, he did not know what to expect.
“At the interview, I was swayed,” he said. “I ended up talking to Ryan Ross [longtime UMHS admissions representative and Director of Marketing] for two hours about everything from University of Maryland–we both went there–to UMHS. I figured if someone high up has the time to talk to a prospective student for hours on end, the school must care about taking the time to get to know each student. My main concern about the Caribbean was the huge class sizes and high weed-out rates. My talk with Ryan helped to combat that concern.”
“The faculty in St. Kitts are among the best professors I’ve ever had and I don’t think I would be where I am without them. They really went above and beyond to make sure we learned the material for Step 1.”
Discover more about Dr. Kanwal and how UMHS helped him every step of the way through medical school by reading his interview in our blog.
Family Medicine Residency
Tuscaloosa College of Community Health Sciences, Alabama
Dr. April Frater is proof that “nontraditional” students can become physicians. She didn’t even think about becoming an M.D. until age 26. Now, the native Canadian has started a Family Medicine residency at Tuscaloosa College of Community Health Sciences in Alabama.
The Class of 2018 UMHS graduate is happy she decided to study at UMHS because, as she explained, “Attending medical school in the Caribbean has been one of the best experiences of my life.”
Dr. Frater was already working in medicine when she decided to become an M.D. She trained to become a Medical Laboratory and X-ray Technologist and worked for about eight years at a hospital in her hometown of Kipling, Saskatchewan in Canada.
“I would come up with my own diagnosis for fun and then discuss with the doctor what I thought the diagnosis was and discuss their plan,” she said. “They would humor me and let me have my own fun. One particular doctor I worked with noticed that I was pretty good at ‘playing doctor’ and suggested I attend medical school. His suggestion kind of blew me away because not once in my life had I considered that. Once he said that to me, the thought never left my head, and here I am now having completed medical school and about to start residency.”
Of all the reasons why she enjoyed medical school at UMHS so much, Dr. Frater noted that the faculty made all the difference in the world. She praised professors both in St. Kitts and at the clinical program in Portland, Maine, calling them all “amazing.”
“Biochemistry professor Dr. Prakash Mungli and neuroscience professor Dr. Michael Doherty were especially amazing as they not only were excellent at teaching but spent time with students doing extracurricular activities like hiking in the rainforest and art therapy class.”
To learn more about how UMHS helped Dr. Frater go from “playing doctor” to actually becoming one, click here for her full story.
University of Arkansas College of Medicine, Little Rock, Arkansas
Dr. Mikayla Troughton started a residency in Anesthesiology the summer of 2018 at the University of Arkansas College of Medicine. She has come a long way from the days of wanting to be a veterinarian while growing up in Enniskillen, Ontario, Canada (an hour northeast of Toronto), volunteering for five years at a local veterinary hospital.
“After seeing enough animals euthanized for various reasons, I realized that my emotions got the best of me, yet I still wanted to be in health care,” she said. “Medicine seemed to be a great alternative as we put more emphasis into the prevention of disease, treatment and curative therapies.”
Dr. Troughton completed her Bachelors of Science in biology at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. When looking to apply to medical schools, she admits the decision to attend UMHS was a no-brainer.
“After having looked into many medical schools abroad, UMHS stood out to me because they truly care about you as an individual and as a student, not to mention the great facilities and brand new anatomy lab on the island,” she said. “When I was accepted, [UMHS VP of Enrollment Management] Michelle Peres personally called me to tell me the wonderful news. I wanted a more personalized experience during medical school and I liked the fact that UMHS offered small class sizes along with TA sessions, peer mentors and office hours catering to all learning styles. Everyone at UMHS was very supportive and the caring environment enabled you to reach your full potential.”
“My experiences both in St. Kitts and the united states have made me a stronger and more resilient physician. The fact that I’ve rotated through 13 different hospitals just as a medical student alone gave me lots to talk about during my residency interviews. Moving to different locations forces you to adapt quickly and you easily learn new patient care systems. UMHS gives you an advantage over many U.S. medical grads, some of whom may only have completed one or two ‘away’ rotations.”
Read more about Dr. Troughton in her interview with the UMHS Endeavour blog.
Internal Medicine Residency
Yale New Haven Bridgeport Hospital in Bridgeport, Connecticut
Class of 2018 graduate Dr. Jenna Ulrich did not start out wanting to become a doctor. In fact, she originally went to College for Criminal Justice, but after becoming ill in her early 20s, she developed a passion for health and wellness.
She soon switched majors and eventually completed a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology at York University, she said, because she “realized medicine was my calling.”
When she started looking at med schools, Dr. Ulrich knew she had many choices. UMHS in St. Kitts had exactly what she was looking for in medical education.
“I chose to apply and ultimately attend UMHS as the curriculum is modeled after the best U.S. medical schools and the fact that they offered an accelerated academic program.”
Her hard work at UMHS paid off and she obtained an Internal Medicine residency at Bridgeport Hospital (with ties to Yale University in New Haven) in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Dr. Ulrich said she believes the clinical education she received at UMHS was key to her success.
“UMHS provided me with the opportunity to rotate at a variety of teaching hospitals throughout the U.S during my clinical years,” she said. “This gave me the chance to care for diverse patient populations. I think this will be an advantage in my future as a physician no matter where my career takes me.
“Since matching everyone has been asking if given the chance, would I do it all over again? And honestly, I absolutely would. UMHS is a great Caribbean medical school and I would not be where I am today without their knowledge and support.”
Read her interview in our blog for more insight into how UMHS gave her the necessary tools to become a great doctor.
Residency in Family Medicine
East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina
Throughout her medical education at UMHS, Miami native Dr. Jasmine Rivas was a frequent contributor to the UMHS Endeavour blog, writing about her experiences as a medical student and covering many university events. She always wanted to become a doctor and help others. When it was time to apply to medical schools, she decided to indulge in her love of exploring other cultures by applying to UMHS in St. Kitts.
She was not sure what to expect upon arrival to UMHS, but Dr. Rivas immediately adjusted to the surroundings. “Moving to an island I had never visited before made me more adaptable,” she said. “Also, forming lasting relationships with people from across the globe and learning about various cultures has broadened my perspective. I believe this will always give me a competitive edge.”
“The founder of UMHS, the late Dr. Robert Ross, and current President Warren Ross, both had extensive experience and success in leading medical students to successful careers in medicine. UMHS offers very competitive tuition and an excellent education. Also, St. Kitts is a beautiful island and who wouldn’t want to spend 16 to 20 months with ocean views from campus and home.”
Learn more about this incredible young doctor’s story in our official university blog.
Residency in Internal Medicine
Hospital Episcopal San Lucas, Puerto Rico
Dr. Brian Gonzalez Sanabia grew up in Moca, a town on the west side of Puerto Rico, approximately 80 miles from San Juan. At the age of 13, he worked as a lifeguard during the summer. It was while working on the sunny shores of Puerto Rico that he first learned how much he enjoyed helping others, especially those in need of medical attention. As a lifeguard he had the opportunity to save several people’s lives through resuscitation. It was at that moment that he knew he wanted to become a physician.
“When I was introduced to the field of medicine by one of my best friends, I fell utterly and profoundly in love with the idea of becoming a physician, and that I would have the opportunity to serve the community while also pursuing my passion for science,” he said.
After graduating from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez with a biology degree, he was ready for medical school. He visited six different Caribbean medical schools, but UMHS in St. Kitts stood out from the others.
UMHS provided a personal approach that others had not. He was especially impressed by the “attention and availability” of the admissions officers. Whether via a phone call, an email or convenient online information webinars, UMHS offered him all the information he needed to learn about what was required to attend medical school. He was especially interested in UMHS because he could return to Puerto Rico for his clinical program. This was a big plus for him since his wife and kids are in Puerto Rico.
He is one of many UMHS graduates who have returned to Puerto Rico (where he will complete his residency). He is now in a positon to help bring desperately needed medical care to the island after Hurricane Maria.
“UMHS puts students first and are dedicated to your success. Professors are very approachable and eager to teach. Basic sciences are very comprehensive and prepare you well for USMLE Step 1. From the first day, the professor steers you towards unlocking your highest potential. This was key to obtaining my desired scores and eventually being competitive enough for the match.”
Read more about Dr. Gonzalez Sanabia’s journey to becoming an M.D. in the UMHS Endeavour.
Residency in General Surgery
Kendall Regional Medical Center, Miami, Florida
UMHS Class of 2018 valedictorian Dr. Obteene Azimi-Ghomi started a residency in General Surgery at Kendall Regional Medical Center in Miami, Florida in the summer of 2018. Dr. Azimi-Ghomi, a Maryland native, wanted to become a doctor ever since he was eight, when his uncle gave him a copy of Netter’s Atlas of Human Anatomy.
He credits UMHS for giving him all the necessary tools to successfully obtain a residency. “I absolutely believe that attending UMHS and the experiences I had there gave me several advantages going into residency.”
It was during the clinical program that Dr. Azimi-Ghomi realized he wanted to focus on becoming a surgeon after medical school.
“Many times during my surgical clerkships, we were medically managing patients on the ward, trying all that we can do to not only avoid having to perform surgery, but also medically optimize the patient and their pre-existing conditions. Half of surgery is knowing when and when not to operate. A good surgeon never cuts unless when absolutely necessary. And when we do operate, it is an art. Every incision and stitch is performed diligently and intentionally. I can’t express in words the feeling of going in to see a patient who is acutely ill, identifying the pertinent anatomy as well as the pathology or disease, knowing how to approach and treat the disease, and observing the dramatic improvement in their health.”
“I absolutely believe that attending UMHS and the experiences I had there gave me several advantages going into residency. First and foremost is resiliency and the ability to handle adversity. UMHS gave me a greater perspective of the difficulties many face in obtaining adequate health care and treatment. These experiences really helped embolden my drive and passion in becoming not only a physician, but the type of doctor that helps transform and change the landscape of medicine and globally improve health care and health care access.”
Read his full interview to learn more about how UMHS helped Dr. Azimi-Ghomi make his dream of becoming a physician reality and making a difference.
Residency in Family Medicine
University of Toronto
UMHS Class of 2017 graduate Dr. Rohan Manocha started his residency in Family Medicine at University of Toronto – Downtown in the summer of 2017 and he is pleased to be returning to the Toronto area. Dr. Manocha grew up in nearby Richmond Hill and studied Kinesiology at Western University in London, Ontario. An avid Toronto sports fan, Dr. Manocha realized he had a passion for medicine while taking anatomy and physiology courses as an undergrad and volunteering his time at the local hospital in his hometown of Richmond Hill.
Dr. Manocha enjoys time with his family, something he likely had little time for during his journey through medical school at UMHS. The UMHS Endeavour recently spoke to Dr. Manocha about why he chose UMHS and how it specifically helped him land a prestigious residency back in his Canadian homeland. He also shared advice on how to get high scores on the USMLE exams and make the most of the residency Match process.
"UMHS provided an avenue for me to fulfill my career goal of becoming a practicing physician in Canada."
Residency in Anesthesiology
UMHS Class of 2017 graduate Dr. Kirsten Fill didn’t always plan on becoming a doctor. The Ontario, Canada native studied biomedical engineering at Queens University and started a corporate job after graduation, but decided she wanted something more rewarding. She decided to pursue the passion for medicine she developed as an undergraduate.
Dr. Fill took time from her busy schedule to talk to the UMHS Endeavour about her experiences at UMHS and why she was initially so impressed by the cadaver lab, high-tech classrooms and fun social activities in St. Kitts, the extensive Step 1 preparation at the Portland, Maine campus and her invaluable experiences in clinical rotations, and how she successfully made it through the Match process. Dr. Fill starts her Anesthesiology residency at Drexel University at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia this summer.
UMHS: What was the greatest thing about learning you matched?
“My heart rate normalizing. Then realizing it was in the specialty and hospital I wanted.”
Residency in Pediatrics
Illinois St. Francis Medical
Center & Children’s Hospital of Illinois
UMHS Class of 2017 graduate Dr. Nick Kessener applied to several Caribbean medical schools and was accepted by all, but it was the personalized, polite attention he received at UMHS that helped him decide to start his medical journey at the state-of-the-art campus in St. Kitts. He also liked the fact that UMHS has affordable tuition and is run by the Ross family, with their years of experience helping IMGs from the U.S. and Canada achieve countless goals in the Caribbean and later back in North America.
Dr. Kessener had a strong medical background before attending med school. He previously worked in Nuclear Medicine doing stress tests for a cardiology group in Colorado before he decided to go for his M.D. He starts his residency in summer 2017 in the combined Medicine/Pediatrics program at the University of Illinois St. Francis Medical Center, and part of his time at Children’s Hospital of Illinois, south of Chicago. Besides landing such a prestigious residency, Dr. Kessener says he’s pleased that finally he, his wife and children will all be able to live in the same place for at least four years. The UMHS Endeavour caught up with this busy young doctor to talk about his experiences at UMHS, his advice for med students going through the Match process, his goals for residency, and more.
“My study at UMHS helped prepare me well for the matching process in terms of further development of interpersonal skills. With the diversity found at UMHS both in its student body and in clinical rotations, you get to work with many people from many different backgrounds.”
Residency in Internal Medicine/Pediatrics
Hurley Medical Center
Dr. Sarhad Najor started his residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan this summer. It has been a long road to residency indeed for Dr. Najor, who spent the past 17 years in Michigan but was born in Iraq.
We caught up with this young doctor to talk about why he found the small class sizes at UMHS helpful and his confidence in the Ross family’s excellent track record in medical education. We also discussed why he decided on a Med/Peds residency, his tips for making the most out of the Match process, and why he feels the time he spent at UMHS constituted the “best four years” of his life.
“Because of Dr. Ross and Mr. Warren Ross’ background, I had great faith in attending UMHS. I knew they would move this medical school to the correct path based on their history with molding great medical schools.”
Residency in Internal Medicine
Detroit Medical Center-Sinai Grace Hospital
UMHS 2017 graduate Dr. Nichole Zuccarini’s interest in medicine started out with majoring in medical technology at Michigan State University and receiving a Bachelor’s of Science. She spent time after graduation working in a lab and in marketing and sales. She eventually wanted to become a doctor and chose UMHS because of the state-of-the-art facilities at the St. Kitts campus. She matched in Internal Medicine at the Detroit Medical Center Sinai-Grace Hospital in Michigan after doing an additional rotation there in late 2016. She is especially excited about her residency because she’ll be working with patients who have not had Primary Care before.
The UMHS Endeavour blog caught up with this busy young doctor to talk about her career, her goals for residency, her advice for medical students and the Match process, and how two departments at UMHS were especially helpful.
“I went to UMHS because of their extended basic sciences program and awesome school facilities in St. Kitts. As a result of a reduced course load in the basic science program, I was able to excel academically.”
Internal Medicine Resident
Southern Illinois University (SIU) School of Medicine and Affiliated Hospitals.
UMHS graduate Dr. Elizabeth Nielsen starts her Internal Medicine residency at Southern Illinois University (SIU) School of Medicine and Affiliated Hospitals in summer 2016. It’s the result of lots of hard work for the Normal, Illinois native.
The state-of-the-art facilities at UMHS and the outstanding faculty made her education particularly memorable.
“I felt that UMHS was very clean, with great facilities, and welcoming when I came to visit the island several months before I started. I was most impressed with the ventilation and technology in the anatomy lab. It was also great to know that the professors were pretty easily accessible during office hours.”
MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center,
UMHS graduate Dr. Miriam Bernstein wanted to be a doctor ever since she watched a TV series at age nine. Now, the New York State native’s dream has come true and she has landed an OB/GYN residency at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland.
Attending UMHS helped Dr. Bernstein achieve that dream. “The school's reputation and the natural beauty of St. Kitts weighed into my decision that it was a good fit for my goals. I also was attracted to the aspect of being a part of a newer school. I felt it would give me more of a chance to personalize my experience and be treated as an individual and not a number like at some larger schools.”
“The professors on St. Kitts challenged me both personally and academically. Island life helped me become less rigid, more relaxed and allowed me to meet people from all over, including some that I now consider family. I was also fortunate enough to have an amazing set of preceptors in my clinical education that truly wanted to teach and share their knowledge as well as to push me to become a better doctor.”
Dr. Bernstein says her experience at UMHS was invaluable. Read why in her UMHS Endeavour blog interview. Just click here for the full story.
Residency in Family Medicine
Washington Health System
UMHS 2016 graduates Dr. Thivisa Rajagopal and husband Dr. Thushyanthan Pathmalingam both decided to attend UMHS when they had trouble getting into Canadian medical schools. Dr. Rajagopal immigrated to Canada from her native Sri Lanka at a young age and always wanted to be a doctor. Today that dream has become a reality as she and her husband recently started Family Medicine residencies at the Washington Health System in Pennsylvania.
Dr. Rajaogpal took time from her busy schedule to speak to the UMHS Endeavour to share her experiences about the school and what prospective students can expect at UMHS, from the great professors in Basic Sciences to clinical rotations to interviewing for a residency, and how she and her husband were so thrilled when they both matched at the same hospital.
“Every aspect of UMHS makes you become an independent, self-learning and brilliant doctor.”
Jackson Memorial Hospital in Florida
Dr. Kristin Biggie started her residency in Pediatrics at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Florida in summer 2015.
The South Florida native says she is thrilled to be in her home state, allowing her to be close to family and friends. She will also serve fellow Floridians. We caught up with Dr. Biggie to discuss Pediatrics, her clinical rotations, advice on the match process, the advantages and disadvantages of being a Caribbean medical student, her goals for residency, and how UMHS faculty and staff helped her during her medical education.
"UMHS invests a lot of time and money in ensuring good step 1 scores for their students. This is a gift that all students should utilize. Exhaust your step 1 resources because a strong step 1 score will set you apart as a residency candidate...
...There are many superb clinical rotations at UMHS. It is up to the student to seize the rotations that will work best in their future. If pediatrics is in your future, Sinai Hospital in Baltimore is the place to be."
University Hospitals/Case Western University
Dr. Vazquez is a strong advocate of getting published while still in medical school. Dr. Vazquez was one of the co-authors of an eating disorders study published in Psychotherapy Research in 2013, “Effects Of Providing Patient Progress Feedback And Clinical Support Tools To Psychotherapists In An Inpatient Eating Disorders Treatment Program: A Randomized Controlled Study.”
Dr. Vazquez admits he prefers “listening over speaking.” He told the UMHS Endeavour two years ago that he became interested in psychology and psychiatry because he has always been fascinated by human behavior. We caught up with Dr. Vazquez to talk about his upcoming residency. He discusses everything from being prepared for the match process to how one UMHS staff member was of particular help on the road to residency. You can make your dreams of becoming a doctor a reality at UMHS, too.
"The medical education at UMHS was the catalyst that gave me the skills and confidence to become a leading physician. I am ready to pursue all of my medical ambitions."
Family Medicine resident
Lehigh Valley Hospital
Dr. Fetterolf hails from Royersford, Pennsylvania. She decided to become a doctor after seeing her parents, who are both deaf, struggle to understand their own health issues because of miscommunications with health care providers.
Dr. Fetterolf was determined to one day change the way deaf families experience health care by improving deaf cultural awareness in health care and eliminating the need for sign language interpreters for her own patients. She says she always had an interest in how the human body works growing up and now, after years of hard work, she has made her dream of becoming a doctor a reality.
"I really believe most Caribbean students are more determined, resilient, and caring because of their experiences. Those characteristics and experiences are what will make your application stand out from the rest and what will potentially win over a program."
Family Medicine Resident
University of Ottawa, Canada
UMHS graduate Dr. Lara Gizzi took time from her hectic schedule–juggling duties as a Family Medicine resident at the University of Ottawa in Canada, research projects, exams and a work lifestyle she describes as an “absolute whirlwind”–to speak to the UMHS Endeavour. We were especially interested in speaking to Dr. Gizzi because she has a unique perspective on working in medicine in Canada. Dr. Gizzi initially met with Michelle Peres, UMHS VP of Enrollment Management, and had a good feeling about our school, so she “took a risk” by applying to UMHS a few years ago. Ultimately, she made the right decision to enter UMHS as a Canadian studying medicine abroad. The Toronto area native had missed a deadline to apply online to Canadian medical schools and did not wish to wait a full year before applying again. The UMHS Endeavour blog spoke to this gifted young doctor about her experiences at UMHS and on the island of St. Kitts, from the close connections she made with professors and working as a teaching assistant to the challenges of living abroad on a tropical island, and the myriad of lessons learned during clinical rotations and electives in the USA and Canada. Dr. Gizzi adapted quickly to St. Kitts and the UMHS campus and bonded with her fellow students, realizing she was “surrounded by people in the same boat with the same fears,” all wanting to become doctors. We spoke in detail with Dr. Gizzi about what Canadians can expect before, during and after studying medicine at UMHS.
“I did electives in plastic surgery and cardiology through McMaster University, as well as an elective in family medicine in a private practice in Toronto. This most certainly assisted in my successful entry into residency in Canada. Having letters of reference from Canadian physicians and proof that I made it my prerogative to invest time learning in Canada was of utmost importance.”
Fellow: Hematology/Oncology at the University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky
Residency: Internal Medicine at Johns-Hopkins University-Sinai Hospital
UMHS graduate Dr. Rahul Gosain completed his residency in Internal Medicine at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University-Sinai Hospital and started a fellowship in Hematology/Oncology at the University of Louisville in June 2015. He is one of the first UMHS graduates to apply for a fellowship.
UMHS caught up with Dr. Gosain to discuss his career and his experiences at UMHS, from island life to his experience in clinical rotations and common misconceptions about students at Caribbean medical schools. We also discussed the importance of extracurricular activities during rotations, why Hematology/Oncology is such an important area of medicine, and much more.
“Looking back at where I started and where I am today, UMHS has played a big role.”
While still a UMHS medical student, Dr. Lakraj did neuromuscular research at Yale and published a case report. In addition, as a postdoctoral research associate at Yale, she observed patients and published manuscripts about movement disorders.
Dr. Lakraj also contributed to a chapter for a textbook. We spoke with this accomplished young doctor about how her medical education at UMHS prepared her for neurology, a lifesaving area of medicine.
"UMHS gave me the tools necessary to be successful in the clinical world. The experience molded me into a strong doctor and encouraged me to take on any medical challenge."
Internal Medicine Resident
Advocate Lutheran General Hospital
Park Ridge, Illinois
Dr. Alessandra Secco first became interested in medicine when her grandfather became ill with cancer. She enjoyed being at his bedside but wanted to do more to help him and to understand and treat his illness.
Dr. Secco graduated from UMHS in June 2014 and immediately started her Internal Medicine Residency at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois. She was pleased with the clinical rotations at major U.S. hospitals offered by UMHS, allowing her to work directly with patients in areas where health care is desperately needed.
"I was extremely prepared for my boards and especially so after our Kaplan review course during our 5th semester. I also felt confident with patient interaction and physical exam techniques due to our excellent preparation during our 4th and 5th semesters."
Internal Medicine Resident
Wayne State University Medical Center
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan, USA
Dr. Larry McMann achieved success at UMHS and finally became a doctor after a long journey that included being erroneously told by an undergraduate advisor that medicine “would not be a good fit” for him, a brief stint working as a dietitian, and later struggling as a medical student at a different school. Dr. McMann persevered and earned his M.D. at UMHS, getting one of the highest scores possible on USMLE Step 2.
“UMHS does a great job of giving you the tools that you need to succeed,” he says. “the motivation of the faculty, the positive attitude; they have real zeal for what they do. They don’t have an attitude like this is their job. They have an attitude like this is their calling.”
Dr. McMann credits the highly credentialed, caring UMHS faculty for his success. “At UMHS, the focus from day one is getting you to understand the material and that can be going to the classroom, you interacting with your professor and them really caring about whether you know the information or not when you leave the class.”
Crozer-Chester Medical Center
Hometown: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Toronto native Dr. David Kadouri decided to study medicine at UMHS because he liked the sense of community at the school and the unique relationship between the student body and faculty.
The outstanding training he received at UMHS and through its clinical rotations helped him land a residency in OB/GYN at the prestigious Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Pennsylvania.
“The education at UMHS is extremely intimate; it is the perfect setup for an ambitious and eager student to thrive,” Dr. Kadouri says. “the class sizes are small, and there is a very personal feel.
My friends and faculty felt like family. Their sense of investment and genuine interest in my success was clear and palpable. My teachers were always available, and the roles and barriers of the usual student-teacher relationship didn’t exist. I could approach any member of faculty, from ta, to professor, up to the dean – with absolute comfort and ease, and they would give you their time to teach and help you succeed.”
Internal Medicine Resident
Kettering Medical Center
Dr. Charlie Opperman was worried that his MCAT score might interfere with his chances to get into medical school, but he excelled at UMHS.
The superlative USMLE Step 1 preparation at the Portland, Maine, 5th semester campus and extraordinary clinical rotations were key factors to Dr. Opperman’s success at UMHS, and he’s now an Internal Medicine resident at Kettering Medical Center in his native Ohio.
"The Kaplan course in the 5th semester is extremely helpful and prepared me to sit for the USMLE. It is very intense, focused and extremely important. I absolutely loved the 5th semester which helped me transition seamlessly into the clinical program".
Internal Medicine Chief Resident
Drexel University College of Medicine
Hometown: Forsyth, Georgia, USA
Dr. James Brown has always loved science and helping people. He chose UMHS because he was impressed by the clinical program. UMHS helped him score high on USMLE exams and reach his goals.
“I was very well prepared and have had no trouble with any examinations,” Dr. Brown says.
“Throughout Internal Medicine residency, I have scored in the mid-90 percentiles for my in-service exams for the past three years.”
Dr. Brown credits one UMHS staff member for being especially helpful during clinical rotations. “I loved working with [UMHS Director of Clinical Relations] Maxine Paul. She was always available to discuss any concerns I had. Her genuine interest in the success of her students and the school was always apparent. I can’t believe what she was able to accomplish with my clinical rotations.”
Florida State University Family Residency Program
Lee Memorial Hospital, Ft. Myers, Florida
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Dr. Kristin Miller always wanted to be a doctor because she understood science and “knew that could be my gift to other people.” When she started looking at medical schools, the dedication of staff, state-of-the-art campus and high-tech facilities at UMHS impressed her the most, and she knew the school was a good match for her.
She calls the professors “the frontrunners in American medical education, the doctors that write the textbooks.” Dr. Miller adds that knowing how much the school is invested in students’ success gave her an extra sense of security.
“Due to the small class sizes, it was easy to form relationships with the UMHS faculty,” Dr. Miller says. “They all had an open-door policy. I took advantage of that and owe a lot of my success to the dedication of the faculty. A handful of them are still my mentors to this day.”