For more than 40 years, Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM), an Adtalem Global Education institution, has been expanding access and opportunity to students on the path to becoming skilled physicians. RUSM and its students are determined to make an impact in global communities, a mission that begins at its campus in Bridgetown.
RUSM has a unique story to tell because we believe that not everyone has the same opportunities in life and those differences have historically precluded certain aspiring physicians from attending medical school. We exist because there are unmet healthcare needs in communities we care about. Often, those best positioned to fill them are not afforded the opportunity to do so.
With over 15,000 alumni, RUSM opens doors to higher education for underrepresented student populations. The majority of our students come from the US and increasingly Canada, as well as other parts of the world, supporting educational tourism in Barbados. We offer a medical degree to students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. To ensure students are prepared to handle the challenges that come with a medical career, faculty and staff meet students where they are, providing them with tailored support throughout their medical education.
What makes RUSM stand out from other medical schools is our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, end-to-end student support, including Adtalem’s Medical Education Readiness Program, and early clinical and community experiences in Barbados.
Students who attend RUSM have a rare opportunity to immerse themselves in the warm and friendly culture of Barbados during their early years of medical school, which helps widen their experience in patient care and broaden their world view and knowledge of different healthcare systems. By embracing the power of diversity, equity, and inclusion, RUSM maintains our steadfast focus on helping to diversify the medical profession and improve communities and healthcare systems where our graduates go on to serve.
Now that we are settled into our new campus in Bridgetown, we see the island of Barbados as our long-term home. As part of our emerging focus, we want to have a positive effect throughout the island by making investments that have major impacts on both our students and the local community. By offering employment opportunities and partnering with local organizations on projects that align with our mission – including a strong focus on non-communicable diseases, disaster medicine, and community engagement – we hope Barbadians will continue to benefit from RUSM being in their backyard.
A few ways in which RUSM has engaged with the community include providing Basic Life Support certification training sessions for nearly 100 Barbados Community College nursing students and nursing instructors. Additionally, students and faculty were engaged in a local program targeting the prevention of renal disease in systemic lupus patients and assisted in the distribution of renal kits and counselling patients.
RUSM also partnered with the Barbados Alliance to End Homelessness (BAEH) to upgrade facilities that provide free medical care. Adtalem and RUSM’s donation will allow for the integration of medical resources, helping the shelter provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ for those in need of healthcare. RUSM partners with urgent care services to bring free weekly medical care to the homeless through its community medicine program and an RUSM student group has collaborated with local physicians to assist in healthcare delivery to senior residents.
Adtalem along with RUSM students, faculty and colleagues took part in a wide variety of philanthropic activities throughout the year focusing on community medical needs, providing resources for groups in need, and raising awareness of non-communicable diseases and other health risks. Adtalem fosters relationships with local governments, international and regional organizations, and communities to make valuable contributions to the community and support local needs.
Hands-on from the Start
RUSM believes early, hands-on learning is crucial for medical students to gain the experience and confidence needed to become successful physicians. With that in mind, Dr. Rhonda McIntyre, senior associate dean of external affairs and campus dean, developed and led a new program, the Community Clinical Experience. This program allows students to develop their advocacy skills and gives them exposure to administering medical care in a community setting. It is a differentiator in empowering RUSM’s diverse student body to serve local and global communities with a patient-centric, ethical and humanistic outlook.
The Community Clinical Experience program has partnered with community organizations such as Urgent Care Mobile Services, BAEH, Hope Foundation Barbados, Forlam Foundation, A.C. Graham Development Centre and the Barbados Red Cross Society to provide healthcare and health education to the local community. Since launching in September 2022, nearly 300 RUSM students have spent more than 3,300 hours serving over 1,000 community patients. RUSM students provided patient evaluations, counselling, and conducted physical examinations.
The culminating event for the Community Clinical Experience program took place in November 2022, in Queen’s Park, where RUSM, in collaboration with BAEH, hosted a Health Extravaganza along with 10 other local healthcare providers. This community event offered free health screenings that included blood sugar testing, blood pressure checks, cholesterol tests, COVID-19 vaccines, breast exams, health education and more. Our partnerships with community organizations are so meaningful because these non-profit organizations are right at the centre of what we are trying to teach our students – the need for advocacy, understanding, and getting up close to patients and communities to understand the social and economic determinants of health.
Embedded in RUSM’s mission is to deepen community engagement and ensure that we are contributing to the communities that we live, work, and learn in. We will continue to integrate into the local community in Barbados and provide students with the foundation they need to pursue successful careers in medicine.
RUSM is accredited by the Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and other Health Professions (CAAM-HP, www.caam-hp.org), an independent and autonomous body of professionals that only certifies medical schools operating at the highest levels of educational standards.