Dr. Brent Balhoff’s desire to become a physician was shaped by life experiences and fueled by deeply rooted family values—values instilled in him by his parents. That’s why, when US schools denied him the opportunity to pursue his dream, he didn’t give up. Rather, he stayed true to the path he knew was right for him.
He graduated from Louisiana State University with degrees in biology and psychology, earned acceptance to American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC), and dedicated himself to becoming the physician he knew he was meant to be.
This approach paid off. On March 20, 2015, Dr. Balhoff successfully attained an emergency medicine residency at Boonshoft School of Medicine (Wright State University) through the National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP).
Taking On the Challenge of Medical School
“Just as much as I knew that being a physician was my calling, I knew AUC was right for me,” says Dr. Balhoff. “Smaller class sizes was important to me, and the information shared by Dr. Benji Ho about his experiences at AUC in his blog, Diary of a Caribbean Med Student, solidified my decision,” says Dr. Balhoff.
In September 2011, he joined the AUC community ready to take on the challenges of medical school with determination.
The highly credentialed faculty and their availability to students outside of the classroom stood out to Dr. Balhoff. This level of support enabled him to succeed academically. The commitment to volunteerism by the AUC community also resonated with him.
“I became involved in the work of the St. Maarten AIDS Foundation and served as treasurer of the Student Judiciary Committee,” says Dr. Balhoff. “As a volunteer counselor with the AIDS Foundation, I spoke with those who came for screening about their sexual practices, offered advice on safe sex, as well as answered questions regarding HIV/AIDS.”
Dr. Balhoff credits those experiences with preparing him for residency and life as a practicing physician. “I learned how to effectively discuss sensitive topics, and how to communicate openly with persons from diverse backgrounds,” he says. “I also learned the importance of teamwork and know this would be advantageous as I began residency. Medicine is a team sport, and I know how to be a contributing player.
Residency and Beyond
AUC’s continued support as he began preparing for residency was invaluable, Dr. Balhoff says. Through the Office of Student and Professional Development, AUC students have access to a variety of services and resources to help them prepare to enter the NRMP Match.
“I took advantage of the Physician Match Advisory Program, and am so thankful I did,” he says. “I was connected with a practicing physician who advised me on the strengths and weakness of my application. He took time to review my scores, personal statement and other documents. I appreciated the unbiased opinion and how it made my application more competitive.”
As Dr. Balhoff begins the next chapter of journey, he encourages everyone to persevere in the face of adversity. He advises, “Keep pushing and never forget what you came here to do. The road to becoming a doctor is difficult, and your path may differ from someone else, but in the end, it’s worth it.
Posted March 20, 2015 01:30 PM