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Canadian alumni profiles

Jerome Couture, M.D.

Class of 2019

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.”

Read more about Dr. Couture's journey in the UMHS Endeavour blog.

April Frater, M.D.

Class of 2018

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.

Mikayla Troughton, M.D.

Class of 2018

Anesthesiology Residency
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.

Jenna Ulrich, M.D.

Class of 2018

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.

Kirsten Fill, M.D.

Class of 2017

Residency in Anesthesiology
Drexel University

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.”

Click here to read the UMHS Endeavour blog post on how UMHS helped Kirsten become a doctor.

Rohan Manocha, M.D.

Class of 2017

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."

Click to read Dr. Manocha's interview in the UMHS Endeavour blog about how UMHS helped him become a doctor.

Dr. Thivisa Rajagopal

Class of 2016

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.”

Read how UMHS helped Thivisa and her husband on their journeys to become doctors. Click here for more of their unique story.

Lara Gizzi

Class of 2014

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.”

Read the full interview with Lara by clicking here.

David Kadouri, M.D.

Class of 2013

OB/GYN Resident
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.”