Roshin Rowjee, the Lufkin man who plans to challenge incumbent Congressman Louie Gohmert in the March 2018 GOP primary, is presenting himself as a medical doctor. But the Tyler Morning Telegraph has confirmed that Rowjee has never been licensed to practice medicine, has been disciplined by the Texas Medical Board for offering medical advice over the internet, and continues to operate a website offering medical advice.
“I knew this was going to come up in due time, but that is garbage,” said Rowjee, who nevertheless confirmed each of the specific allegations. “It’s absolute garbage.”
Rowjee, whose platform includes complete forgiveness for all student debt, public and private, and proposing an Israel-Palestine peace deal, says he’s running because people in Lufkin and the southern part of House District 1 feel they’re not properly represented.
“I can’t stand people that assume positions of leadership and influence who haven’t earned their stripes and make decisions that destroy hard work and honesty,” he said.
The Tyler Paper has verified that Rowjee received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from Stephen F. Austin State University. He also says he attended a joint program between SFA and the University of Texas Health Science Center Northeast, where he researched Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome.
Rowjee said that after his time at UT Health Northeast, he attended Spartan Health Sciences, a school in St. Lucia, and then lived in El Paso, where he commuted to Juarez, Mexico, to work in government-owned hospitals as a part of the program through Spartan Health Sciences.
He said he then transferred into St. Matthew’s University in the Cayman Islands in April 2004 and finished in December 2007, earning his doctor of medicine (MD) degree.
He says he moved to Chicago to work in a hospital rotation, and was close to beginning his residency. But the financial crisis in 2008 forced him to move back to Texas, he said.
That’s when he had the idea to create the website doctoradvice4u.com. He said the website was inspired by his time spent in St. Lucia and Mexico, both relatively underdeveloped countries where “you live what the people go through daily.”
The idea for the website really took root when he was leaving St. Lucia, Rowjee said.
“The people (in St. Lucia) gathered and they were crying,” he said. “They said, ‘Roshin, don’t forget us.’ And I said ‘I can’t forget you. You’ve left an imprint on my heart and soul.’”
And that’s why he created the website, he said.
“People overseas - whether in Juarez, St. Lucia, or anywhere else in the world - if they had medical questions, they could contact me,” he said. “And I could treat them like an everyday patient.”
He didn’t initially plan to charge for the service, he said. Rowjee also started to consider the financial burden he would be placing on his parents by moving back to Texas.
“I thought, ‘You know what, maybe on the website, for advice I could charge $20 or so,’” he said. “So for the first month or six weeks or so, whenever I offered information, I charged $20 or $10 - whatever the person could afford.”
After the first month, Rowjee said, charging the fee was “really bothering my conscience.”
“It was like a calling from within, it was like God was telling me to set up this website strictly to help people around the world,” he said.
So he stopped charging the fee - but continued to offer medical advice.
In fact, Rowjee is basing his campaign for Congress on his status as a medical doctor. His campaign slogan is “Dr. Roshin is in motion, working for you,” a slogan also featured prominently on doctoradvice4u.com.
But Rowjee has never been licensed to practice medicine in the United States or anywhere else.
He confirms this.
“I finished medical school, so legally I am a medical doctor, and on all my documents, I can put medical doctor down,” Rowjee said. “I do not have my license, so therefore I cannot open up a practice or an office or work in a hospital setting.”
CEASE AND DESIST
That extends to offering any sort of medical advice, even over the internet, according to the Texas Medical Board. That body issued a cease-and-desist order in 2012, demanding that Rowjee take down his website and stop giving medical advice in any setting.
Rowjee said he received a phone call from the Texas Attorney General’s Office in Fall 2011 telling him to stop “engaging in the unlicensed practice of medicine in the state of Texas.”
Rowjee said his response was, “You cannot cease-and-desist my website and allow every other website to continue giving medical advice to Texans and not shut them down, too, so I respectfully told him, when you do that give me a call.”
He said he told the person who called, “I am credentialed and I am offering advice. I am not demanding people take my advice. I am treating that person like a patient. ... As far as I’m concerned, I’m not doing anything wrong here.’”
Rowjee continued to operate the site and in December 2011 moved to New Jersey to take a teaching job at Essex County College. In February 2012 he received a notice from the Texas Attorney General’s Office to appear for a hearing on May 25, 2012.
The hearing was regarding the giving of medical advice online, without having a medical license.
When Rowjee received the memorandum, he said he knew he would be unable to make the hearing because of teaching commitments. A week before the hearing, Rowjee said he sent a certified letter to the Texas Attorney General’s Office saying he would be unable to make the meeting and asking for it to be rescheduled.
According to Rowjee, the AG’s office signed for the letter - and because of the acknowledgment of receipt, he said, “my thought was that my hearing would be rescheduled for another day.”
Yet on May 25, 2012, the Texas Medical Board issued a cease and desist order.
It reads, “the respondent shall cease and desist any unlicensed practice of medicine in the State of Texas after the date of the entry of this order.”
Any violation of the order “constitutes grounds for imposing an administrative penalty of up to $5,000 for each violation and/or each day of a continuing violation, of the act.”
Rowjee said there have been repercussions from that order.
For example, he said, he was turned down from teaching at Kean College in New Jersey because of the decision.
Five years after the order, doctoradvice4u.com is still an active website.
There is a disclaimer at the top of the website that says, in part, “The contents of the DoctorAdvice4u.com site, such as text, graphics, images, and material contained on the DoctorAdvice4u.com website (‘Content’) are for informational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.”
The most recent medical questions appear to have been answered in 2016.
Rowjee also participates in a question-and-answer forum on a website called the Brazilian Press where he represents himself as Dr. Roshin.