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Alumni profiles

Brian Hernández-Colón, M.D.

Class of 2020

OB-GYN Residency
St. Luke Episcopal Medical Center in Puerto Rico

Dr. Brian Hernández-Colón was delighted to learn that he obtained an OB-GYN residency at St. Luke Episcopal Medical Center in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Dr. Hernández-Colón is one of several UMHS grads to match in their Puerto Rican homeland. Born in San Juan, Dr. Hernández-Colón lived in Carolina, PR most of his life, and will now complete his residency in Ponce, on the southern coast of the island. UMHS spoke to Dr. Hernández-Colón about why he decided to become a doctor, why he chose UMHS in St. Kitts for med school, his advice for other students from Puerto Rico, why he wanted to do residency in Puerto Rico, his thoughts on the healthcare needs of the island after Hurricane Maria, the COVID-19 pandemic and more.

He was always interested in medicine but it was not until his second year in college that he decided to pursue it as a career when he chose microbiology as his major.

What made him decide on attending UMHS?

“After attending a UMHS conference given by [UMHS Senior Associate Director of Admissions for the Southeast and Puerto Rico] Earl Mainer, I knew I wanted to attend UMHS because of their high USMLE Step 1 passing rate and the fact that I would be able to do my clinical rotations in Puerto Rico,” he said. “I also learned about former UMHS students who matched at residency programs in Puerto Rico, which is what I wanted to do.”

Dr. Hernández-Colón wanted to return to Puerto Rico for residency. He had many reasons for coming back to his native island to help the people there.

“I decided to go to UMHS having in mind that I would do most or all of my clinical rotations on my island of Puerto Rico so I would increase my chances of getting into a residency program here. It is my goal to be able to help and take care of the people in my community. I can’t imagine being a medical physician anywhere else than Puerto Rico.”

Dr. Hernandez-Colon was fortunate to obtain a residency in his top choice of hospitals in Puerto Rico, in the specialty that interested him the most, OB-GYN.

“I will be doing my OB-GYN residency at the St. Luke Episcopal Medical Center located in Ponce, Puerto Rico. This residency was my first choice because I have witnessed how well the residents work together as a team and I like that the attendings take their time to teach.”

He first became interested in OB-GYN when he took an Obstetrics and Gynecology clerkship as his first rotation at UMHS. 

“The day I witnessed my first delivery, I told my wife that I wanted to become an OB-GYN. I was drawn to its variation between surgery, hands-on procedures, primary care and the excitement and joyfulness that can come from obstetrics. This is a specialty where you really connect with patients by developing genuine relationships at crucial life milestones. The rest of my core rotations [at UMHS] only solidified the fact that it was truly what I wanted to become.”

Read more about Dr. Hernández-Colón’s road to residency success in the UMHS Endeavour blog.

Bahaa Elzein, M.D.

Class of 2020

Internal Medicine Residency
DMC Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital in Michigan

Dr. Bahaa Elzein started an Internal Medicine residency at DMC Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital in Michigan in summer 2020. Dr. Elzein had quite a journey through medical school, but studying to become a doctor is not the only challenge he’s faced. He recently had a battle with COVID-19 and knows firsthand what an insidious virus it truly is, even for younger Americans.

UMHS spoke to Dr. Bahaa Elzein about how he always wanted to be a doctor, his strong Lebanese-American roots in the Detroit area, why he chose UMHS for medical school, how he survived the coronavirus, and more.

Dr. Elzein was born in downtown Detroit and raised in the Dearborn Heights community. The Michigan city of nearby Dearborn contains the highest concentration of Arabs outside the Middle East and is home to the largest Arab-American community in the USA.

“I am Lebanese, first generation American and the proud son of immigrants,” he said.

Ever since he can remember, he always wanted to become a doctor.

“I never had any other plan,” he said. “In my house, education is the most important thing. I have always seen how respected physicians are in my community and I always looked up to them.”

Dr. Elzein attended Wayne State University in Detroit and received a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences. What made him decide to choose UMHS as opposed to U.S. or other Caribbean medical schools?

“While I was applying to medical school, I saw an advertisement for UMHS and inquired about it. I was contacted immediately and they told me they have a Michigan office. Being from Detroit I was super excited to be so close and so I attended a seminar. During the seminar, a new graduate who was a resident physician in Michigan at the time gave an amazing lecture and I was so impressed.”

Dr. Elzein made it through med school thanks to the outstanding faculty and staff at UMHS. He was pleased to learn in March 2020 that he matched in Internal Medicine. He spoke about his upcoming Internal Medicine residency at DMC Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital in the Detroit area.

“The Detroit Medical Center (DMC) is an alliance of hospitals that encompasses over 2,000 licensed beds, 3,000 affiliated physicians and over 12,000 employees,” he said. “DMC Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital is one of the eight hospitals/institutes composing the Detroit Medical Center. DMC is affiliated with medical schools from Wayne State University and Michigan State University. DMC has one of the largest Graduate Medical Education (GME) in the nation. There are three Internal Medicine residencies affiliated with DMC that take a total of 80 residents per year. Downtown (48 interns), Sinai-Grace (24 interns), and Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital (eight interns).  Being from Detroit, I really wanted to stay home and close to my family. I was lucky enough to land a residency so close to home, where I feel most comfortable.”

Dr. Bahaa Elzein graduated right before the pandemic began but had a personal experience with COVID-19.

“Unfortunately, I actually got COVID-19 myself and experienced the virus firsthand,” he said. “It was really a tough illness and I was lucky to fully recover. So, I really understand what all the COVID-19 patients are going through.”

What are some things students and the general public should know about COVID-19?

“Students should know that COVID-19 is definitely a real virus and something to take really seriously. It is very important you always take precautionary measures such as washing your hands thoroughly all the time, continue to practice social distancing, avoid touching your face at all costs, and to educate your friends and families to continue to do these things. The more people practice these patterns, the quicker we will be able to get back to normal times.”

As he looks back on his medical education at UMHS, Dr. Elzein credits the faculty for giving him the foundation to make it in medicine.

“I believe UMHS professors were such strong teachers and had such unique teaching styles that it allowed me to retain more information. There were times I would round with attendings and I remembered what my basic science professors had stated in class, which helped me stand out! These small things helped me get strong letters of recommendations, which eventually lead me to matching."

Click to read more about Dr. Elzein’s success in his interview with the UMHS Endeavour blog.

Josué Alejandro Ocasio Tapia, M.D.

Class of 2019

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."

Shane O’Toole, M.D.

Class of 2019

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.

Laura Tafuri, M.D.

Class of 2019

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.

Jasmine Rivas, M.D.

Class of 2018

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.

Brian Gonzalez Sanabia, M.D.

Class of 2018

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.

Arjun S. Kanwal, M.D.

Class of 2018

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.

Obteene Azimi-Ghomi, M.D.

Class of 2018

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.

Nick Kessener, M.D.

Class of 2017

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.”

Just click here to read in the UMHS Endeavour blog how UMHS helped Nick become a doctor.

Sarhad Najor, M.D.

Class of 2017

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.”

How did UMHS help Sarhad become a doctor? Click here to read his full interview in the UMHS Endeavour.

Nichole Zuccarini, M.D.

Class of 2017

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.”

Click here to read Nichole's amazing interview with the blog on how UMHS helped make her dream of becoming a doctor a reality.

Elizabeth Nielsen, M.D.

Class of 2016

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.”

Want to read more about Dr. Nielsen's inspiring story and success at UMHS? Click here for her full interview in our blog.

Miriam Bernstein, M.D.

Class of 2016

OB/GYN Resident
MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center,
Baltimore, Maryland

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.

Aaron Vazquez, M.D.

Class of 2015

Psychiatry Resident
University Hospitals/Case Western University
Cleveland, Ohio

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."

Click here for the full interview with Aaron in the UMHS Endeavour.

Christine Fetterolf, M.D.

Class of 2015

Family Medicine resident
Lehigh Valley Hospital
Allentown, Pennsylvania

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."

Learn how UMHS helped Dr. Fetterolf in making a difference in patients' lives. Click here for her story.

Kristin Biggie, M.D.

Class of 2015

Pediatrics Resident
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."

How did UMHS help her on the road to residency? Click here to read Dr. Biggie's interview with the UMHS Endeavour.

Alessandra Secco, M.D.

Class of 2014

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."

Amrita Amanda Lakraj, M.D.

Class of 2013

Neurology Resident
Froedtert Hospital
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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."

Read Dr. Lakraj's amazing story by clicking here.

Rahul Gosain, M.D.

Class of 2013

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.”

Read the full interview with Rahul here.

Larry McMann, M.D.

Class of 2013

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.”

Charlie Opperman, M.D.

Class of 2012

Internal Medicine Resident
Kettering Medical Center
Kettering, Ohio 

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".

James Brown, M.D.

Class of 2011

Internal Medicine Chief Resident
Drexel University College of Medicine
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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.”

Kristin Miller, M.D.

Class of 2011

Chief Resident
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.”