By Parveen Chopra
Editor, The South Asian Times
It was a celebration to remember. Make it a triple celebration – the annual graduation for the Class of 2021, ribbon cutting of the new dorm, and groundbreaking for the new academic block. And all in the presence of the Hon Prime Minister of Aruba, Evelyn Weber-Croes, who was also conferred an honorary doctor degree.
Xavier University School of Medicine hosted about 150 people in Aruba, including graduating students, alumni, faculty, friends and supporters, many from the New York area, for the main event on August 14 and a welcome banquet dinner with live music and carnival dancers the previous evening.
Amid being feted and feasted, it sure looked that Xavier has arrived and is a spectacular success. Evidently, providing quality of education with no corners cut — the vision of the Xavier board — is paying dividends. Xavier is also growing in international repute. Arguably the best medical school in the Caribbean already, it is set for an explosive growth in terms of number of students when the new academic block is up and running in 2023.
Holding all the right accreditations with long acronyms — now also approval from New York State — Xavier is also the most affordable. Scholarships are offered to those who qualify, and a foundation has been set up to raise $10 million to fund the scholarships. Approval for federal loans from the US is on the cards. The $1.5 million generous donation by the Poola family of New York, a first for Caribbean schools, will certainly inspire more benefactors to come forward and help build an institution dedicated to producing physicians who will serve their communities.
The 15-acre campus is a new landmark in the growth journey of Xavier. The just inaugurated Phase 1 comprises a 3-story student housing complex with dorms for about 200, dining facilities, and sport courts. Phase 2 will house a state-of-the-art academic block including lecture halls, labs, auditorium, computer labs, conference rooms and research facilities. More housing will be added later. The entire project to be completed in 2023 has a price tag of about $60 million.
Xavier President, Ravishankar Bhooplapur adds that for students it will be a welcome change. Now they don’t have to hunt for accommodation away from the campus. Meals, laundry, wi-fi, everything is taken care of. Hassle-free, students can now concentrate on excelling in academics.
In terms of expansion, Chancellor Dr J.G. Bhat says that the Aruba government has already given their nursing school to Xavier to run. The government is clearly pleased with the growing collaboration with Xavier, which is mulling adding veterinary and dental medicine also.
Xavier also has an active alumni outreach. So much so that two alumni were recently added to the roster of the board of trustees. Rachel Karmally is one of them. Of Indian subcontinental heritage, she graduated in 2012 as a Valedictorian. After doing her residency in Rochester General Hospital in New York, Dr. Karmally is now an academic general internist at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, MI. Says she, “I kept in touch with my alma mater, was an alumni speaker in 2013 and kept attending alumni meetings. I have done some teaching virtually and informally advised students as suggested by Ravi.” She reports that under Dr Arun Dubey, academically Xavier has changed a lot – for the better. She also credits Ravi, who is not from the medical field, for talking at board meetings about academics and how we can improve our standards to be at par with American schools. “The result, for example, getting approval to practice in New York last year is amazing.”
Riddhiben Patel had actually graduated last year amid Covid outbreak and came to the in-person graduation this time. Says the Valedictorian, “My experience at Xavier has been excellent. The faculty was great in terms of knowledge they had. They really wanted us to succeed. In the first two years at the island, they make sure that all our foundations are extremely strong. So, when we take our USMLE exam, we don’t struggle. The environment was homely: the faculty are very professional, but they also make you feel at home.” When asked why she was ranked at the top of her class, she extrapolates, “I have had the honor of being student representative at the New York State accreditation, ACCM, etc. I was also active in extracurricular activities like becoming the student editor of Xavier Times newspaper. My grades were great too.”
Testimonials like these from Karmally and Patel will certainly inspire potential students to choose Xavier to fulfil their dreams of becoming a doctor.
Xavier is fully approved by New York State
The New York Board of Regents approved Xavier University School of Medicine, Aruba (XUSOM) last year to place students in long-term clinical clerkship in New York State for 7 years. This is the longest term of approval that can be given to an international medical school. The state Education Department approval allows:
· Xavier graduates to enter residency training in New York
· Xavier students to complete all 72 weeks of clinical training in New York teaching hospitals
The approval is well deserved. Under the leadership of Chancellor Dr. J.G. Bhat, President Ravi Bhooplapur, Chairman Edwin Casey and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Arun Dubey, XUSOM, with its admissions office in Long Island, is committed to providing high quality affordable medical education.
Xavier is accredited by ACCM (Accreditation Commission on Colleges of Medicine, Ireland). It is registered with NCFMEA (National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation, US Department of Education) and WFME (World Federation for Medical Education). They have a 96% USMLE first-time passing rate and offer clinical rotations in the United States. In addition to the MD degrees on offer, the university offers international pre-med programs (in Jordan, Jenin, India, and Ghana) and post-graduate programs.
Xavier was founded in 2004 and is chartered by the government of Aruba with authorization by the Ministry of Education of Aruba to confer the Doctor of Medicine degree.
Xavier was ranked among top 10 medical schools in the Caribbean by Money Inc. magazine in 2019.