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.
Read more about Dr. Couture’s journey to becoming an M.D. in his interview with the UMHS Endeavour.
Residency in Family Medicine
Tuscaloosa College of Community Health Sciences, Alabama
“Physicians have to be dedicated to their patients and career and I believe that UMHS helps strengthen that. You have to be super dedicated. I believe that I have gained the ability to adapt quickly to new and stressful situations which is something I didn’t possess before. Completing a rotation in one city on Friday and moving to a new city to begin a new rotation on a Monday has taught me to just take one day at a time and not to get overwhelmed by change.”
Dr. April Frater is proof that “nontraditional” students can make dreams of becoming a doctor reality. She didn’t even think about becoming an M.D. until age 26. Now, the native Canadian is thrilled to be starting a Family Medicine residency at Tuscaloosa College of Community Health Sciences in Alabama.
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 actually never considered a career in medicine or realized I had the potential to be a doctor so it wasn’t a dream of mine until I was about 26 years old,” Dr. Frater said.
Dr. Frater, a Class of 2018 graduate, is happy she decided to study at UMHS because “attending medical school in the Caribbean has been one of the best experiences of my life.”
Read more about Dr. Frater in her interview with the UMHS Endeavour blog.
Residency in Anesthesiology
University of Arkansas College of Medicine
“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. 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.”
UMHS 2018 graduate Dr. Mikayla Troughton started a residency in Anesthesiology last summer at the University of Arkansas College of Medicine. She has come a long way from 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 animals euthanized for various reasons she realized “my emotions got the best of me, yet I still wanted to be in health care.” She decided to become a doctor instead to treat humans and prevent disease.
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.
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. As Dr. Fill eloquently puts it, “It’s okay not figuring out by age five that you want to be a doctor; it’s a process for some of us and one that should be embraced.”
Dr. Fill spoke 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 started her anesthesiology residency at Drexel University at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia in summer 2017.
Dr. Fill grew up in Mississauga, a Toronto suburb. After completing her undergraduate studies, she worked a corporate job but soon realized she wanted to change careers and become a doctor. While looking for medical schools, she decided on UMHS in St. Kitts because she already had a friend studying there who had “incredibly positive things to say” about the program.
“The St. Kitts campus was in a beautiful location, and the opportunity to spend most of the four years training in the US and Canada was important to me,” she said. “The campus was newly built and could provide everything a Basic Sciences student requires to be successful—the large cadaver lab with small dissection groups, the impressive simulation labs, the tech-equipped classrooms, Step 1 prep, etc.,”
Dr. Fill believes attending a Caribbean medical school gives students an edge when it is time to apply for the residency Match. “The advantage of being an IMG in Match is without a doubt the resiliency we develop throughout medical school. We want this so badly that we have gone on an unconventional, more challenging route to get here. That drive and determination will resonate in interviews and residency.”
Dr. Fill credits the outstanding clinical rotations at UMHS for helping her match in anesthesiology.
“My clinical rotations were done in many different hospitals but all in the same city. This gave me the opportunity to get settled and really focus on what type of hospital setting and specialties are best for me. UMHS allowed me to tailor my own clinical experience to suit my personal preferences. My exposure to medicine, surgeries, and procedures fully equipped me for residency interviews and more importantly, prepared me for a medical career.”
Learn more about Dr. Fill’s positive experiences at UMHS in her interview with our official university blog.
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 summer 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.
Dr. Manocha enjoys time with his family, something that was a rare luxury during his hectic journey through medical school at UMHS. UMHS 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.
Access to residencies in Canada is one of the reasons Dr. Manocha decided to attend UMHS in St. Kitts.
“UMHS provided an avenue for me to fulfill my career goal of becoming a practicing physician in Canada,” he said. “I was drawn to the smaller class sizes, favorable island living conditions in St. Kitts, new facilities, and the promising hospital affiliations, including the opportunity to complete a third-year core rotation in Canada.”
When it was time to apply for a residency, Dr. Manocha chose Family Medicine for the variety and continuity of care that it provides.
“In most health care systems around the world, and especially in Canada, family physicians provide the first line of contact with the health care system, and I am really looking forward to making an impact in the lives of others as a physician. I am also very interested in the academics of medicine and hope to obtain a Family Medicine faculty position at a university program in the future.”
“One of the great advantages for students studying at Caribbean medical schools like UMHS is the ability to rotate at many different teaching hospitals across the USA and Canada. This can be a great tool to outline to program directors and faculty that you are adaptable and have succeeded not just in one hospital but many.”
Click to read more about Dr. Manocha’s successful journey from being a Canadian studying medicine abroad to obtaining a prestigious residency back in Canada.
Residency in Family Medicine
University of Manitoba
Dr. Aaron Hoo was the first-ever UMHS graduate to match in the second iteration of CaRMs (Canadian Residency Matching System) Family Medicine residency. Originally from Malaysia, Dr. Hoo moved to Canada as a child in the 1980s. Like many students at Caribbean medical schools, Dr. Hoo took an unusual path to becoming a doctor. He earned an undergraduate degree in psychology and a diploma in naturopathic medicine. He worked a banker and a naturopathic doctor in private practice in his hometown of Vancouver, Canada before entering the M.D. program at UMHS.
When UMHS contacted Dr. Hoo, he had just completed the MCC-QE1 (Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination Part 1) and had spent three days driving across Canada from Vancouver, British Columbia to Winnipeg, Manitoba to move into a new apartment before starting residency at the University of Manitoba. He spoke to UMHS about everything from why he decided to go to UMHS to his interest in Family Medicine to the challenges facing Canadians studying medicine abroad and returning for residency in Canada.
He decided to attend UMHS in St. Kitts because he was intrigued by the opportunities to return to Canada for residency after graduation.
“I was interested in the Canadian affiliation at Ontario Shores Mental Health Sciences and was pleased to know I could complete my core rotation in Psychiatry at that facility,” he said.
Dr. Hoo found the comprehensive UMHS clinical program a major factor in his success obtaining residency back in Canada.
“I believe my clinical rotations in major teaching hospitals prepared me well, especially in core rotations. Having my OB/GYN core rotation in Augusta, Georgia was an excellent opportunity for hands-on procedural and clinical skills training, much more than some of that experienced by my peers, both in Canada and the U.S.”
Dr. Hoo became interested in Family Medicine while completing his UMHS clinical rotations at various hospitals. “The realm of Family Medicine is about lifelong therapeutic relationships with patients; by extension, building healthy relationships with individual patients contributes to a healthier community.”
He credits the reputation of UMHS and outstanding staff and faculty for helping him succeed on his journey to becoming an M.D. in Canada.
“I was impressed with the investment in the St. Kitts campus and was assured by the fact that UMHS was founded by Dr. Robert Ross and a team of staff with an established track record for managing and growing a Caribbean medical school.”
Read more about Dr. Hoo’s story in the UMHS Endeavour blog.
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. That dream became reality when she and her husband started Family Medicine residencies at the Washington Health System in Pennsylvania.
Dr. Rajaogpal spoke to UMHS about her experiences with the Caribbean medical 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.
Dr. Rajagopal moved to Canada at age 10. She always wanted to become a doctor, so she earned an undergraduate degree in biopharmaceutical science and pursued a master’s in chemistry. In addition to obtaining higher education in the sciences, Dr. Rajagopal did volunteer work in healthcare settings as well as research. Dr. Rajagopal and her husband began applying at Caribbean medical schools when faced obstacles getting into Canadian schools. UMHS stood out as a great choice for many reasons.
“We are both strong individuals and we are independent learners,” she said. “So for us it was important to find a school that was financially affordable and yet newly established. The reason behind it was when it is a new medical school, you know they will work to make their students successful. Our prediction was correct.
Dr. Rajagopal has nothing but praise for the professors in St. Kitts and the clinical campus in Portland, Maine.
“The first two years on the island having great professors like Dr. Mungli [Biochemistry], and Dr. Jalan (Pathology] truly helped me to grasp the basic science of medicine, which allowed me to perform extremely well on my Step 1”
The clinical program was also beneficial.
“Our school has our 5th semester in Portland, Maine. This is where you sit at the beginning on the semester and take the full-length Kaplan exam and see how you score. This helps you where you need to focus in your studying before taking the final Kaplan exam. It was intense preparation but very useful in assessing your goals and study plans for taking the Step 1.”
Choosing Family Medicine as her top residency specialty seemed like a natural choice.
“I always grew up having a great family doctor who was multifaceted and had well-rounded knowledge, she said. “I enjoyed working with both adults and kids. I also loved women’s health. The only residency program that allowed me to do everything I loved the most was FMR. When I practice, I definitely want to see newborns to geriatrics, no exclusion. I personally want to do gynecological procedures in my office and OB care up to delivery. My goal is to run my own clinic in five years and specialize in diabetic education and 360-degree care in all aspects (nutrition, insulin administration, foot care). It was a perfect professional decision to work 9 to 5 and not compromise my personal life as a woman.
UMHS prepared her for a career as an M.D. in countless ways.
“Every aspect of UMHS makes you become an independent, self-learning and brilliant doctor.”
Learn more about Dr. Rajagopal’s inspiring story by reading the interview with her and husband Dr. Thushyanthan Pathmalingam in our blog.
Residency in Family Medicine
University of Ottawa
UMHS graduate Dr. Lara Gizzi obtained a Family Medicine residency at the University of Ottawa in Canada. Dr. Gizzi was one of the first UMHS Canadian graduates to return to Canada for residency.
Dr. Gizzi initially met with Michelle Peres, UMHS VP of Enrollment Management, and had a good feeling about the school, so she “took a risk” by applying to UMHS. 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.
UMHS spoke to Dr. Gizzi 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 about what Canadians can expect before, during and after studying medicine at UMHS.
Dr. Gizzi always wanted to be a doctor in her native Canada and planned to attend a Canadian medical school but wound up studying medicine abroad at UMHS in St. Kitts.
“To be honest, my ultimate goal was to practice in Canada, my home country,” she said. “However, I just missed a deadline to create an online account for Canadian medical school applications. As such, I would have had to wait a full year before applying, and the competition/number of available seats in Canada wasn’t very promising in the first place. So, I listened to my gut and a few university supervisors’ opinions and applied to UMHS. I interviewed with Michelle Peres in Toronto in the summer of 2009. I had a positive feeling about venturing to medical school abroad from the second the interview began.”
UMHS gave Dr. Gizzi unique tools to succeed that she feels she may not have had at a Canadian medical school.
“I was able to be a teaching assistant each semester. I had many more interesting experiences being abroad and meeting so many different types of people in terms of age, culture, background, etc. I became very familiar with my own personal strengths and weaknesses being away from the comforts of home. I learned to not take education and opportunities for success for granted. I had exposure to several different systems and cities across the U.S. As such, I learned to adapt very easily to new settings and gain great confidence in my personal and medical skills as I always had to put my best foot forward to make a lasting impression in a short amount of time.”
Dr. Gizzi found the opportunity to do clinical electives as a UMHS student in Canada especially useful to network and form professional relationships in the Canadian healthcare system.
“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,” she said.” 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.”
She also believes the USMLE preparation at the UMHS Maine campus helped her do well on Canadian exams as well.
“The USMLE is a great method of preparation for the Medical Council of Canada examinations. I found the USMLE examinations to be much more lengthy and difficult, making the subsequent writing of Canadian exams much less daunting. Prospective Canadian applicants should ensure they review Canadian ethics sections as well as the different laboratory values used in Canada prior to exam writing.”
Overall, the caring faculty (recruited primarily from the U.S. and Canada) made the biggest impression on Dr. Gizzi.
“The faculty-to-student ratio at UMHS was ideal. I was able to form close connections with my professors, as they were available and approachable and got to know me well.”
Discover more about Dr. Gizzi’s success studying at a Caribbean medical school by reading her interview in the UMHS Endeavour.
Residency in Internal Medicine
Johns Hopkins University
UMHS graduate Dr. Rahul Gosain completed his residency in Internal Medicine at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University-Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland and went on to do a fellowship in Hematology/Oncology at the University of Louisville in June 2015. He was one of the first UMHS graduates to apply for a fellowship.
Dr. Gosain completed his undergraduate degree at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He wanted to become a doctor and decided to apply to UMHS in St. Kitts for medical school.
“UMHS was a new name [at the time] but the people behind it had a lot of experience, and I was convinced that it would provide me with the track that I was looking for,” Dr. Gosain said.
While studying medicine at UMHS and completing clinical rotations at U.S. hospitals, Dr. Gosain soon learned that students at Caribbean medical schools are trained the same as people at U.S. medical schools.
“There are a lot of competitive fields in medicine but I personally know quite a few that have done really well and continue to represent Caribbean graduates, including program directors at multiple reputable institutions,” Dr. Gosain said. “Others believed that our course structure is different than the other ‘American’ schools. After rotating and coming across a lot of students from different schools during my rotations and residency, I believe at UMHS, we have done a pretty good job of mirroring what is expected from us clinically and academically in the real world.”
This is especially true for UMHS clinical rotations, all of which are offered at U.S. hospitals.
“You will rotate at sites where other American graduates are rotating and then you will also have a chance to work with other physicians one-on-one. You have to be personally proactive to make the most out of any rotation.”
While completing his clinical rotations, Dr. Gosain had the chance to do a rotation at John Hopkins University-Sinai Hospital in Baltimore. The experience helped him obtain an Internal Medicine residency at the prestigious hospital after graduation.
“I had the opportunity to do rotations (core internal medicine and a Sub-I in Internal Medicine) here in Baltimore. In fact, the core IM rotation was my very first rotation as a third-year medical student,” he said. “I really think the UMHS 5th semester in Maine helps prepare you for your core rotations and elective rotations.”
After completing his residency at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Gosain started a fellowship in Hematology/Oncology at the University of Louisville in June 2015. His interest in cancer care began while he was a clinical student at UMHS.
“I started my Hematology-Oncology journey in Maine when I was assigned to shadow an Oncologist there,” he said. I have always thought it’s a field in medicine where you get a chance to help the patients and their families at the most vulnerable time in their life. It’s a field that has evolved a lot in the last few years and there is so much that is up and coming. We are now talking about ‘cure’ in this field and it is estimated there are close to 13 million cancer survivors in the United States of America alone. I also have a keen interest in global health, especially after my time at Uganda Cancer Center as a second-year resident.”
Dr. Gosain said he owes a lot to UMHS for his success.
“Looking back at where I started and where I am today, UMHS has played a big role.”
Learn more about Dr. Gosain’s career and his experiences at UMHS in St. Kitts by reading his full profile in the UMHS Endeavour.