Bashar Yalldo, MD, AUC gradAbout eight years ago, Bashar Yalldo was on the waiting list for Wayne State University School of Medicine, and he was growing antsy. He wanted to move forward with his medical education—but more than that, he wanted to move forward with his life. He had plans to get married, plans he had to effectively put on hold as he waited for a seat to free up at WSU.

But Yalldo also knew attending WSU would keep him close to home—the school is roughly 15 miles away from his hometown of Southfield, MI. So he did some investigating, and his research brought him to an interesting conclusion: There actually was a way to have the best of both worlds, to have both choice and convenience.

It wasn’t a path he had considered at first, but ask this 2012 graduate about his decision to attend American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC) and he’ll tell you he wouldn’t change a thing. Because he just finished his final year of a family medicine residency in Michigan, recently earned a Family Medicine Resident of the Year award, and started his first day of post-residency work on Monday, August 1, 2016.

"Today, I felt like I started giving back," he said after his first day at work wrapped.

Why He Enrolled

Before he decided on AUC, Yalldo had two major criteria he needed to satisfy: He wanted to start medical school sooner, not later, and he wanted to come back home to Michigan to practice. Point one was satisfied by AUC’s rolling admissions policy, which meant Yalldo wouldn’t have to wait for a spot to open up at WSU or for a new enrollment cycle to begin stateside.

And for point two, he researched the school and spoke with some AUC graduates. What he found out cemented his decision.

“They told me that it was a good opportunity…that they’d attended, come back to the US, and are successful,” said Yalldo. “And that people went into all sorts of specialties [afterward]—not just family medicine, but general surgery, anesthesia, radiology, and those harder-to-get-into professions.”

Taking the First Step

There was an initial moment of hesitation at stepping outside of his comfort zone, but Yalldo went for it.

“It was a big step for me to attend AUC at first, but I wanted to move on with my life—I figured I’d go there for two years and come right back to Southfield,” he said.

As fate would have it, that’s exactly how it worked out. He wrapped two years on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten, where he completed AUC’s rigorous Medical Sciences curriculum. And for his clinical education, he completed all of his core rotations at Providence Hospital—in his hometown of Southfield, MI.

“It worked out perfectly, and I’m honestly so grateful for the experience,” he said. “It was the best experience of my life.”

Life on the Island Wasn’t What He Expected

Yalldo had a few preconceptions entering medical school, chief among them that medical school was a competitive, sink-or-swim environment where everyone was out for themselves.

AUC quickly proved otherwise.

“AUC taught me what teamwork is really all about,” he said. “I made such great friends—people I consider family—at AUC. We were always there for each other, always helping each other out, and everyone was super nice and friendly. We wanted each other to succeed. I’ve never seen that before, not at any level of schooling.”

All of that collaboration and camaraderie was put to good use. “The medical sciences curriculum wasn’t easy by any means, but we’re here to become doctors. It’s not meant to be easy,” Yalldo said. And he knew that if he ever had a problem with learning a particular concept or mastering challenging material, his professors were there and ready to help.

“All of the professors there had an open-door policy,” he said. “If you had any difficulties at all, not only can you go to your comrades, but you can go to your teachers. They were all very friendly, and they wanted you to succeed.”

Back Home (Literally) for Clinicals, Residency

After wrapping his two years on the island, Yalldo traveled back home—literally—for clinicals. He completed all of his core rotations at Providence Hospital in his hometown of Southfield, MI.

“Providence is an excellent teaching institution—they didn’t treat me any differently than a Wayne State or Michigan State student,” he said. “It was just a great, positive experience.”

He matched there in 2013 in family medicine, and his experience at AUC helped him in more ways than one.

“Going from medical student to residency was a breeze because I was already familiar with the system, and I knew all of the attendings,” he said.

And that collegial, collaborative spirit that he saw at AUC? He brought it with him to residency.

“We were very, very close,” he said of his residency class. “You carry those past experiences with you. We helped each other out, whether it came to gathering information, what resources to use, studying for in-service exams, or giving each other advice on different types of patients.”

A Jaw-Dropping Email and Post-Residency Life

Yalldo completed his family medicine residency in summer 2016, and his postgraduate training was capped off with a pretty nice surprise. He received word this year that he’d been named Family Medicine Resident of the Year by the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians Board of Directors.

“They sent me an email, and my jaw dropped,” he said. “I couldn’t believe that out of all of the family medicine residents [in the state], I was selected. It was honestly very humbling.”

According to an article on the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians website, the award is presented to a Michigan family medicine resident who shows “exemplary patient care, leadership, commitment to the community, contributions to scholarly activity, and dedication to the specialty of family medicine.” The site notes that Yalldo participated in multiple volunteer initiatives in Michigan and was elected president of the Providence House Staff Committee during residency, among other accomplishments.

“Dr. Yalldo has the right mix of family medicine values, commitment to patients, and a drive to make a difference to improve health. He embodies the face of family medicine,” said Karen Mitchell, MD, director of Providence Hospital’s family medicine residency program.

For his post-residency career, Yalldo decided to stay with the St. John Providence Health System, which owns Providence Hospital. He joined up with a practice in Howell, MI, primarily handling outpatient work at a clinic.

As for his decision to attend AUC? It’s probably safe to say he doesn’t regret it.

“AUC was and will forever be much more than a school to me,” he said.

Gerry Kimbrough

Posted August 04, 2016 09:39 AM

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