Burton Tabaac, MD (‘14) compares the process of choosing his specialty to “falling in love.” He would know, too: The third-year neurology resident met his future wife during anatomy lab at American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC).

“The moment I saw her, with formaldehyde in the air, I knew she was the one,” says Dr. Tabaac.

Read on for Dr. Tabaac’s thoughts on residency, the couples match, and how the AUC experience ties it all together.


HIS CURRENT ROLE: “I’m a PGY3 neurology resident at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey.”

WHY HE CHOSE NEUROLOGY: “Ever since I was a young kid, I’ve been fascinated by the brain. I majored in behavioral neuroscience at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. It’s really at the forefront of medicine—there’s so much we know about the rest of the body, but there’s lots to be discovered with the brain. I think that in the coming decade, there's going to be cures for neurological diseases that didn't exist before.”

A DAY IN THE LIFE: “At 8 a.m., I get the sign-out from my colleague with overnight events that occurred with our patients. I spend the next hour or two seeing patients and documenting my examinations. Then, I meet with the attending physician and the rest of the team for tableside rounds where we’ll discuss the cases, present them and review images of studies that were done.

We do bedside rounds, meet for lecture in the afternoon, have some lunch, and for the rest of the day we’re seeing new consults and code strokes as they come in. Whether it’s ischemic strokes, bleeds or hemorrhagic strokes, we take care of patients wherever we’re needed. At the end of the day, we meet again and we sign out to the resident who’ll be covering the entire hospital overnight.”

THE AUC EXPERIENCE: “I heard about AUC through a friend who had a very positive experience. Now that I’ve graduated, I also encourage friends to look into it. I think that with every passing year medical school admissions are more and more competitive, and AUC gives you the opportunity.

My first two years at AUC were so memorable and academically enriching. The community at AUC was collaborative, not competitive. We were a group of students that all had the same goal, to become physicians, and also encountered similar hurdles along our path. You had the sense that we were in it together.”

NAVIGATING THE COUPLES MATCH: “I never would have met my wife, Vanessa, if it weren't for AUC. She grew up in Texas, I grew up in Philadelphia. There was a little chase at first, but we've been together ever since. We did all of our clinical rotations together in New York, and now we're also doing our residencies together.

The Couples Match was a little daunting at first because of the uncertainty and risk that it might not work out. Luckily for Vanessa and me, it did work out—we both matched at Robert Wood Johnson. The way it works is, you have two different lists that are linked together. I applied and interviewed at multiple hospitals, as did my wife. Then when it came to make our rank lists, we both had our lists tied together so that we could be together geographically, and we’re so happy with the result.”

FUN FACT: “When I was at AUC, I got scuba diving certified. I did a three-month course and really enjoyed it—so much that I also became rescue diver certified, and Nitrox certified, which is a type of enriched air that allows you to dive for longer in deeper water.”

DOING WHAT HE LOVES: “Looking back, I'm so happy to have had the opportunity to go to AUC. I applied to allopathic schools in the United States, and I was not accepted. When I first got the call that I was accepted to AUC, it was an incredible feeling that I will never forget.

It gave me the opportunity to prove myself—not only to my family and friends, but also to myself that I was able to commit, study, work hard, and excel. I was one of the top in my class, obtained my number one choice for residency and now I'm a doctor, as is my wife. And every single day I wake up excited to treat patients. I love being a doctor, and I have AUC to thank for it.”

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Kristin Baresich

Posted October 31, 2016 10:03 AM

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  • public

    11/22/2016 5:10:02 PM

    Way to go! Such a great model and representation for AUC. Just goes to show how hard work and dedication pay off. Kudos and well wishes.

  • public

    11/5/2016 1:34:44 AM

    How nice! "With formaldehyde in the air" Haha! Great article.

  • public

    11/1/2016 1:03:59 PM

    Outstanding article. Burton and Vanessa truly are two of the most compassionate, driven, and personable people that I have had the privilege of knowing. Wishing you two all the best! Keep up the excellent work that you do.

  • public

    10/31/2016 9:58:29 PM

    I went to pharmacy school with your dad and spent time with your family, they are so proud of you and you have not let them down! God Bless you and all the best with your medical career.

  • public

    10/31/2016 4:31:29 PM

    I was Burton's pathology professor at AUC. I can attest that every word of this is true. Burton is an excellent student and Vanessa is no less memorable. It has been a highlight of my teaching career to be part of their development and watch them become practicing physicians. Kudos to them both. Their success is well deserved.