Before coming to AUC, Pernell Reid worked in hospital administration, taught children on the autism spectrum, and earned a Masters of Health Administration. But all the while, he couldn’t shake the feeling that his true calling was to be a physician.
Today, Reid is a third-semester student and the president of AUC’s Student Government Association. Read on to learn why Reid chose AUC as the place to make his lifelong dream a reality.
You’ve had several past careers. How did you decide to pursue medicine?
I knew growing up that I wanted to be a physician. My mom is a nurse, and my sister and I would visit her often at work so I was always comfortable in the hospital environment. But after graduating from Trinity College-Hartford with a neuroscience degree, I wasn’t ready to go to medical school just yet, so that’s when I started teaching for a few years. Then, I got a job as the administrator for the renal transplant program and dialysis unit at Boston Children’s Hospital.
What was great about that role was I was working in the right place—a hospital—but I still had the wrong job. After a few years, I went to business school, but the idea of medical school kept eating away at me. As soon as I was done, I enrolled in prerequisite classes for med school—literally, the next day. I just knew that wasn’t going to be my endpoint.
Why did you choose AUC?
At first I applied to U.S. medical schools and wasn’t accepted. So I went back for a second master’s in biomedical sciences to help better prepare myself, and began looking into international medical schools. I actually went to a different Caribbean school first and then transferred to AUC, and I’m much happier here.
It’s small enough that you have access to faculty if you need them, I’ve heard great things about the clinical rotation experience and students’ United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE) Step 1 pass rates, and the island is beautiful. But the secret sauce—the thing that really makes AUC special—is the students.
Reid addresses students at the AUC White Coat Ceremony.
What makes AUC students special?
Students here really want each and every other person to succeed. Everyone is willing to help you out. We see medical school as something we’re all in together, and the best way to get through it is together. That’s what makes it unique.
Plus, it’s an eclectic group of students. People come from different backgrounds, different parts of the country and world, different religions, and we’re all able to sit at a table together and study. We’re all here for the same reason.
What made you want to become part of the Student Government Association?
Having been on the administrative side in hospitals, I’ve experienced firsthand that although there’s always a purpose for new policies or changes that affect the larger community, sometimes that falls flat in communications to the various stakeholders. So I felt like I could contribute that perspective to effectively represent the student body and help be that point person between AUC leadership.
As president of the SGA, I’m able to be the biggest advocate on campus for students, which is so rewarding. I have open lines of communication with Dean William Owen, Dr. Golden Jackson, Dr. Pranaya Mishra, and other leaders and faculty members. It’s great to be able to foster collaborative relationships and know that your concerns are being acknowledged and acted upon.
Reid (second from left) with AUC leadership and St. Maarten political influencers.
What topics are at the forefront of students’ minds?
A lot of the questions students have center around making sure we’re as prepared for the Step 1 USMLE licensing exam as possible and also, to that end, expanding dedicated study space. So the SGA works with the administration to represent students and ensure their voices are heard, and we’re always working to improve and make the best environment possible. For instance, the administration is currently building new study spaces as a direct result of students’ requests. So to be able to articulate those things to the administration, and actually see it come to fruition, is really significant.
Could you share what it’s been like to be at AUC with your family?
I’m a husband, father, medical student and SGA president—so I’m definitely busy, but I know there are people who do a lot more. St. Maarten has been a great place for my wife and two small kids, ages 21 months and 7 months. My wife has found friends through the spouses’ organization, as well as play dates for the kids—that’s been a really good outlet.
What do you aim to accomplish as a physician?
My goal is to treat patients in limited access areas where health status and outcomes can be improved. Many people living in these areas may not fully understand the health care system or how to maintain their own health. This became very apparent to me during my time as an administrator at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston I hope to be someone who can partner with them to figure that out.
Any advice for students who may be considering AUC?
From my experience, AUC really is a premier institution. You’re going to come out of here with a degree that’s as good as any school in the U.S. No place is perfect of course, but here you have the opportunity to constantly improve upon things you may want to change.
In fact, the only thing I would’ve done differently in my medical school search would be to apply here first. There aren’t that many opportunities in life to immerse yourself in health care in a different culture while earning your MD. And AUC is an international medical school that’s truly first rate and top notch. So I say, seize that opportunity and make the most of it.
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Posted November 30, 2016 10:46 AM