Matthew Goodwin’s medical degree, earned from American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC) in December of 2011, is the realization of six years’ worth of intensive study, coursework and clinical training. It’s been a long but worthwhile path: During his time in St. Maarten and US clinical rotations, Goodwin learned key medical concepts, developed long-lasting friendships and equipped himself with the tools he knew he would need to fully realize his dream of becoming a physician.
As for the whole AUC experience, Goodwin was able to sum it up with a single word: opportunity.
“[AUC] gave me the opportunity to follow my dream, to make this goal a reality,” he said. “The faculty was outstanding—they provided all of the tools and opportunity I needed to succeed.”
And succeed he did. Currently undergoing a general surgery residency at the University of Toledo, Goodwin lives in South Rockwood, Mich., with his wife Mackenzie Bear, MD—a general surgery resident at Henry Ford Hospital and a fellow AUC graduate. The two met in St. Maarten during Goodwin’s second year of studies. Goodwin commutes south to Toledo daily for his residency—Bear travels north for hers.
“We did a couples match in surgery and Toledo was my first choice,” Goodwin recalled. “It had everything I was looking for in a residency program—a lot of diverse and complex cases.” He has family in Ohio, too, which certainly doesn’t hurt.
Adjusting to life as a practicing physician after medical school was a challenge, he admits—at first.
“You have a lot more responsibility,” Goodwin said. “You’re the one making decisions.”
But he knew he was prepared. “You perfect your clinical skills on the island,” he said. “And just having those skills will give you the confidence you need in the hospitals.”
Currently considering which fellowship he would like to undertake—he’s leaning toward vascular surgery or surgical oncology—Goodwin has one piece of advice for both current and prospective students: never give up.
“There is still a large number of students with the same goals and aspirations that I had who aren’t quite sure of what opportunities are out there beyond traditional US allopathic schools,” he said. “[I wouldn’t want them] to give up on their dreams and go a different route. There is an opportunity to make it happen, and I think it’s important for people to know that.”