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Profile: Daniel Rock, RUSM Student

Meet Daniel Rock, a Ross University School of Medicine student who applied his talent for slam poetry to improve his study skills through the Medical Education Readiness Program (MERP).

Ross: So, poetry and medicine—what’s the connection? 
Daniel Rock: During undergrad at Stony Brook University, I used to compete in slam poetry [also known as spoken word or performance poetry]. You have to memorize your poems to perform them, but it’s more than that – we call it knowing something beyond memory. If you’re up there and you’re nervous but you know your poem beyond memory, you’ll still be able to perform and not forget it. So in MERP, I was able to use that skill to help me learn new information—making mnemonics, thinking of a rhyme, tying it to a specific experience. I started learning how to apply that skill in the beginning of MERP, and I’m so much better at it now. I’m able to retain massive amounts of information.

First impression of MERP?
At first it was a little bit of a wakeup call. I went in there with a lot of confidence, and then the first quiz I didn’t do so well. I realized I had to tweak my way of studying. But that’s what MERP is for—it was structured in a way to teach you about yourself and how to study. The professors say this all the time: it’s not just about passing, it’s about learning about yourself and becoming a better student.

What did you learn about yourself?
I realized I was a passive studier. In undergrad I wouldn’t read textbooks, I would just take notes from the lecture and that’s how I got by. I realized I couldn’t do that in MERP because of the degree of information you had to learn.

MERP helped me develop a system that worked for me, using skills I already had. Now I feel so much more prepared than I would’ve been if I had just walked into medical school.

Why did you choose Ross?
I didn’t apply to medical school after undergrad right away because I didn’t have enough clinical experience. So I did graduate research to increase my chances of getting into a stateside school, and I applied about three years after undergrad. It didn’t work out on the first cycle though. So I said, let me give myself another shot. I looked into other options and found out about Ross.

When I got the phone call telling me I’d been accepted to MERP, I was excited because I knew all I needed was a shot. As long as someone was willing to give me a chance, the rest was totally up to me and I knew I could make it happen.

How did you get interested in medicine?
Medicine was something I knew I wanted to do my whole life. I spent three years working in the ER, and 4-5 years in the EMS world. Emergency is what I love to do. I’m a very enthusiastic, dynamic person—I need to be on the run, on the move.

Any advice for other MERP students?
My best friend actually started MERP a few weeks ago. I told her, ‘Give it your all,’ because I can’t tell you how many times I’ll be sitting in class and I’m mentally thanking the professors I have in MERP. Even though it’s a ton of information, I have somewhat of a background because of MERP. I’m able to focus on the things I don’t know and not spend a lot of energy on concepts that I just need to review.

I would also say, ‘Get to know yourself.’ I thought I knew how to study, but MERP showed me that I had so much more potential. I had the passion to become a doctor, but MERP helped me develop the mindset. And I don’t think you can do medicine without both.