Throughout life’s journey, there are bound to be unforeseen twists and turns that lead us to a new avenue in how we perceive the world around us. For Dr. Roland Zhang growing up in Rochester, New York, this non-traditional path took place on his way to becoming a doctor.
In Roland’s eyes, a career in medicine combined his two passions in life; life-long learning paired with a hybrid role in art and science. “The science aspect was being able to absorb large amounts of information, critically analyze and evaluate what was relevant, and apply it successfully towards patient management or my own understanding of medicine,” said Roland. “The art was how to convey your level of understanding, communicate effectively, and work together in a team environment towards a common strategy.”
Saint James School of Medicine offered him the opportunity to achieve his goal of becoming a doctor, while also being flexible given his background. In his words, “I was considered a non-traditional applicant that maintained an average score in university and caught the ‘I want to be a doctor’ bug later on in my career.” At the same time, Saint James School of Medicine was financially viable, accredited, and offered an accelerated route to graduate and then Match into residency.
However, his road to residency was not straight-forward. From having his wife diagnosed and treated for Stage II metastatic breast cancer, to losing close family members, to then not matching the past few years; Roland took every obstacle that came his way as a lesson in humility, patience, and strategic maneuvering. “I firmly believe that these experiences have been incredibly important towards my moral compass, ethical viewpoints, and inner confidence on being able to face adversity head-on,” he said when asked about his journey. It was these trials, as well as an open conversation about facing these challenges, that has landed him the Residency he had been working towards.
After graduation, Roland was fortunate to have worked within the medical realm in several capacities. This man of many hats utilized his time as a Clinical Analyst at MDatHome, Staff Editor at the Journal of International Surgery, and is currently serving in the role of USMLE Counselor at Saint James School of Medicine. “I’ve strived to place myself where I could network, grow my communication skills, as well as constantly improve both my application on paper as well as being efficient/effective towards all my projects,” said Roland.
This Match season, Roland was ecstatic to learn that he had matched into the Family Medicine program at Arnot Ogden Medical Center in Elmira, New York. Throughout all of the ups and downs, he was extremely grateful to have such a strong support system within his family and working within Saint James School of Medicine. He is looking forward to developing the skills and wisdom necessary for a successful family medicine doctor, while at the same time furthering his own development in being wiser, kinder, and more resilient than the day before.
“Entering medical school does not guarantee that you will graduate, pass your NBME/Step exams or Match into residency. Even if you do everything ‘right’, you can still not achieve what you want. However, what happens next is more critical,” said Roland. “While it is so easy to blame yourself, the esoteric rules, the university etc., what did YOU do when things did not go according to plan. These skills, traits and assets all help you build your own definition of success, whether as a practicing physician or another valued member of healthcare.” If there was one word to perfectly describe Dr. Roland Zhang is perseverant. No matter what obstacle is in his way, he will find a way to overcome it with a positive attitude and the privilege of serving as a medical doctor.