Dr. Donish Siddiqi is not just passionate about medicine, he’s possessed by it. Instead of enrolling in college immediately after high school, he got a job at a local hospital as a phlebotomy technician. He soon realized that he could help more people by becoming a physician so he enrolled in a 2-year pre-med program at American International College of Arts and Sciences – Antigua (AICASA). Through an articulation agreement, he enrolled at American University of Antigua (AUA) College of Medicine after completing AICASA’s program. After six years of medical education, he will become a Family Medicine resident at St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica, NY.

Before he began his studies at AUA, he was nervously anticipating the rigors of medical school. He thought the toughest part would be moving away from his family and studying in Antigua. However, he soon found that his courses and experience at AUA provided the perfect foundation for Clinical Sciences, where he was able to apply salient information to real world situations.

“AUA provided me with a great experience that I would have never received if I went to a U.S. school,” said Dr. Siddiqi. “Because of its location, students had to adjust to the intense workload and learn how to interact with the local community.”

When he received his STEP 1 and CK scores, he was disappointed. He was never a good test taker and it hurt him here. He did, however, pass the STEP CS on the first attempt because the test relied on patient interaction rather than standardized test questions. Instead of losing hope, he studied even harder and earned better scores.

“If you mess up, own up to it,” said Dr. Siddiqi. “Showing the program you’re applying to that you won’t give up, that you are determined to do what it takes to succeed, is more important than test scores.”

Despite these setbacks, his success came from knowing how to prepare for his interviews and making the most of his clinical rotations.

“Be yourself,” said Dr. Siddiqi. “Research your program of interest and have questions of your own to convey that interest. Just as the interviewer is evaluating you, you’re also trying to determine if the program is right for you.”

Clinical rotations also provide an opportunity, outside of test scores, to demonstrate what you have learned.  He made sure to stand out daily and was known to be astute and gracious by his colleagues, while hospital administrators took notice of his professional and empathetic approach to patient care. As Dr. Siddiqi put it, he obtained his residency by proving that he could be an exceptional, compassionate physician.

“At every hospital, I did everything I could to make the best impression not just for AUA but also for myself,” said Dr. Siddiqi. “When I asked why they chose me, the program director bluntly stated ‘the score doesn’t make the doctor, the person does.”