St. George’s University Awards Scholarships to 122 Incoming Students

Legacy of Excellence and Chancellor’s Circle Legacy of Excellence scholarship recipients gather for a group photo on the upper True Blue Campus.

St. George’s University has awarded more than $800,000 in scholarships to 122 members of the School of Medicine’s incoming class of 2021.

“Here at St. George’s, we aim to help talented students from around the world achieve their goal of becoming doctors, irrespective of their social or economic backgrounds” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of St. George’s University. “Our scholarship recipients are enormously accomplished and we are excited to welcome them to school this fall.”

Seventy-nine incoming students received Legacy of Excellence Scholarships in recognition of their strong MCAT scores and records of academic excellence. St. George’s has offered these $60,000 scholarships for more than a decade.

Forty-three students received the Chancellor’s Circle of Legacy of Excellence scholarship, an $80,100 award for those with undergraduate GPAs of 3.7 or higher, science GPAs of 3.5 or higher, and MCAT scores of 506 or higher. St. George’s has offered these scholarships for the past eight years.

“We believe financial need shouldn’t stop aspiring physicians from serving their communities,” said Dr. Olds. “We hope that these scholarship recipients will graduate from St. George’s determined to bring their newfound medical expertise to areas most in need.”

This year’s recipients join more than 5,000 students who have received academic scholarships from the University. In total, SGU has granted more than $100 million in scholarships.

St. George’s University to Host Council for Education in the Commonwealth Annual Conference in 2019

Long a hub for international education, St. George’s University has been selected to host the Council for Education in the Commonwealth (CEC) Annual Conference in 2019. Hundreds of educators, policy makers, and education experts from around the world will gather in True Blue to discuss current issues and developments in the field of education and to identify ways to foster educational cooperation.

Glen Jacobs, Professor and Vice Provost for Educational Services at SGU, presented to more than 200 delegates at last month’s CEC conference in Windhoek, Namibia, and also delivered a keynote address.

The conference—titled “Leading the Elephant Out of the Bush: Education and Business Together Bridging the Gap”—focused on a variety of topics including ways to create business alliances that promote innovation, enterprise, and 21st century workplace skills; the ever-increasing role of digital learning and teaching; and strengthening the bridge between schools, tertiary education, and industry.

When the CEC comes to True Blue, Grenada will become the first Caribbean site to host the CEC conference in the organization’s 50-year history.

“We are delighted to be hosting the CEC’s annual conference in 2019,” Dr. Jacobs said. “Our university is at the center of international medical education, and it is fitting that we can provide a platform for an organization that conducts such vital work in promoting education across the Commonwealth. The theme ‘Student Success’ is directly relevant to our mission, and we are excited to provide engagement and collaboration on this topic with key constituents in the region and across the Commonwealth.”

Dr. Jacobs served as a keynote speaker on day two of the Namibia conference, presenting on the topic “Building Capacity Through Tertiary Education: The Role of Quality and Relevance in Best Practice.” He joined SGU’s Department of Educational Services (DES) in 1997, and it now welcomes close to 100 percent of the University’s students to participate in its innovative programs that assist with enhancing skills in time management, note-taking, the utilization of technology effectively in teaching and learning, as well as reading efficiency, writing, and oral communication. In addition, the Department’s faculty development program introduces new and evolving methods of instruction to faculty across all schools.

“If we accept students to an institution, it is our moral obligation to give them the academic support they need to be successful,” Dr. Jacobs said. “By implementing best practices in academic student support, it also helps institutions be sustainable.”

DES’s efforts have garnered three awards from the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA). Most recently, its Academic Enhancement Program (AEP) received NACADA’s Outstanding Institutional Advising Program Certificate of Merit Award in 2015.

Young Grenadians Turn Out in Record Numbers for SGU’s 2017 Career Day

Ten years since its inception, the St. George’s University and Rotaract Club of Grenada Career Day continues to be a success story, this year attracting more than 1,600 secondary school students and young adults from all over the country to the University’s True Blue campus.

Offering more career presentations than ever before, Career Day shined a light on fields such as luxury yachting, architectural design, accounting and finance, culinary arts, environmental sciences, physiotherapy, and public relations. In addition, Career Day representatives provided guidance on how to finance higher education, how to prepare for interviews, and how to dress appropriately in the workplace.

“St. George’s University provides an ideal venue to offer this kind of guidance to students in answering the oft-difficult question of what career to choose and empowering them to make that choice,” said Colin Dowe, Associate Dean of Enrollment Planning at SGU. “It is critical for our young Grenadians to think beyond a secondary education and to seek careers that utilize both their interests and strengths as they continue to develop for themselves, their families, and their country.”

In a continued effort to provide students the opportunity to experience more than the usual two presentations, this year’s Career Day also implemented for the first time the Career Track System. Four different career tracks were set up in each of the major halls on campus and students would remain seated as they listened to presentations in subjects related to their chosen field. The new system was effective in cutting down on assembly time, as students didn’t have to scour the entire campus to get to their different career listings. Another first was the introduction of the School of Arts and Sciences Alumni Interactive Session, which gave the students a break between each session and the chance to connect with SGU alumni.

Additional contributors to Career Day’s success were the Radioactive Grenada youth group, who served as both support staff and recorded the event’s welcome message. SGU’s Psychological Services Center (PSC) were also on hand to conduct student surveys to assess which personality traits would lend themselves to different types of careers.

Mr. Dowe once again led the ever-popular informative and interactive session for parents, for which attendance more than doubled that of the 2016 session.

“The parents’ session was very valuable, especially the 10 steps on helping your child choose a career path,” shared Cecil Noel. The retired Cable and Wireless representative was integral in setting up most of SGU’s telecommunications at the school’s inception and admits his bias in gladly sending his daughter to SGU. “I’ve always longed for the day that the University would be offering more than just a degree in medicine, and now with the School of Arts and Sciences, when the time comes, my daughter can reap the benefits of that.”

As the largest private employer in Grenada, the University continues to fulfill its mandate of being a good corporate citizen by taking the opportunity to expose these students to options beyond the traditional. With Career Day 2017, SGU hoped to assist students in making informed career choices and motivating them along their journey towards educational and career fulfillment.

Located Below the Hurricane Belt, St. George’s University Aids Its Northern Neighbors in Need

St. George’s University students, faculty, and staff are collaborating to lend a hand to citizens of Caribbean islands impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Grenada is, thankfully, south of the usual hurricane path and can assist its northern neighbors. The recent wave of storms has personally affected the friends and families of many students and staff members from the Caribbean.

“The people and the infrastructure in these countries have been dramatically affected by these storms, and it’s important that we band together to do what we can to assist in the relief efforts,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of St. George’s University.

On Wednesday and Thursday, SGU rallied together to make significant contributions to those in need, donating everything from non-perishable food and gently used clothing to toiletries and water to drop-off locations at Charter Hall and Bourne Hall. Representatives from the University’s Student Government Association will take inventory of donated items in preparation of delivery next week through Grenada’s National Disaster Management Agency (NaDMA), which is working with the Red Cross and other organizations to coordinate relief efforts in the region.

In addition, individuals have made monetary contributions to NaDMA through the Grenada Cooperative Bank. The Dean of Students office and Psychological Services Center have also been open to all those in need of assistance.

“In their time of need, we need to be an institution and a community that they can lean on,” Dr. Olds said. “We preach compassion and altruism in everything that we do and in day-to-day life, and this is a prime example of when we need to be here for people who need us.”

Next month, the undergraduate student organization ECO (Education Conservation Outreach) is planning a faculty and student talent and fashion show, with models wearing clothing made entirely of recycle goods and/or local, natural products. All funds generated from the event—set for October 27—will be given to relief organizations providing aid in Antigua, Barbuda, and Dominica.

Tickets will be on sale at the Student Center beginning on October 19. Individuals interested in participating in the event can email ECO President Michelle Taylor at mtaylor2@sgu.edu.

Faculty Members Present at International Medical Illustration Conference

Two faculty members in St. George’s University’s Department of Anatomical Sciences, Wes Price and Xochitl Vinaja, delivered a full-day digital sculpting course to professional scientific artists at the 72nd Association of Medical Illustrators (AMI) Conference held in Austin, TX, on July 23.

The workshop covered the basics of sculpting anatomical models in virtual digital clay using the software ZBrush. Once these models are created on the computer, an illustrator can use them to teach complex scientific concepts in a variety of ways, from turning them into book illustrations to creating a 3D print.

More than 20 medical and scientific artists from all over North America were in attendance, including illustrators for the Mayo Clinic, the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Smithsonian Institution, and Scientific American.

In addition, Dr. Marios Loukas, the Dean of Basic Sciences and Professor in the Department of Anatomical Sciences, presented a plenary session titled “Common Anatomical Mistakes in Cardiac Anatomy” to the AMI, emphasizing the need for illustrators to draw directly from the source—the human body—in order to avoid mistakes and misconceptions.

SGU faculty members Xochitl Vinaja, Quade Paul and Wes Price organized a day-long digital sculpting course.

Department of Anatomical Sciences faculty attending the meeting included Jessica Holland, Marios Loukas, Xochitl Vinaja, and Katie Yost.

Med-Vet Summer Leadership Academy Draws Rave Reviews

For the past year and a half, 17-year-old Marco Turner mulled the idea of becoming a veterinarian. Originally from the Bahamas, he had volunteered in a veterinarian’s office, where he helped nurse the community’s pets back to health, and then began researching opportunities that would help further his career in veterinary medicine.

Enter the St. George’s University Med-Vet Summer Leadership Academy, which has welcomed nearly 900 aspiring physicians and veterinarians to Grenada to receive an insider’s view of their future careers since 2002. In the program’s 15-year history, 46 Academy graduates have gone on to enroll in the School of Medicine or Veterinary Medicine.

“This experience so far has been great,” said Mr. Turner. “Today, we had a suture clinic where we learned how to do three different kinds of suture patterns. While working at a vet’s office, I would see these sutures done, and I always wished that I could do it myself. Now I have the chance.

“This has been a valuable opportunity for my own learning and development that I would definitely recommend to anyone interested in a med or vet program.”

This summer, 74 students hailing from the United States, Canada, Trinidad, Bahamas, Bermuda, United Kingdom, and Puerto Rico successfully balanced a challenging academic program with extracurricular activities such as hiking, sailing, and snorkeling. Both the med and vet students engaged in courses that combined didactic lectures, small-group problem solving sessions, practical lab work in state-of-the-art facilities, and hands-on training through simulated and real-life situations.

This year’s class included Charlize Espinoza, who had undoubtedly been regaled with stories of SGU by her aunt, Cholene Espinoza, MD SGU ’15, now a PGY-3 OB/GYN resident at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. When asked in kindergarten what she wanted to be when she grew up, Charlize replied “a doctor.” A decade later, that answer still hasn’t changed.

“I jumped at the chance to attend the Med-Vet Summer Leadership Academy because I really wanted the opportunity to plan out my future and get a glimpse of what attending medical school would be like,” Ms. Espinoza said. “However, as someone who suffers from anxiety attacks, I thought this might not be right for me—being in a different country, living in dorms, and being away from my parents. But since being here, I haven’t had any anxiety issues. Instead, I’m really enjoying this experience, and everyone has been so warm and welcoming. It’s been a very intensive program so far but the lectures are very interesting and the doctors are very accessible. The Academy is a great place to test the waters and get ready for medical school.”

In 2017, four Academy alumni—Kristen Sellar, DVM; Abigail Maynard, DVM; Lisa Dyke, MD; and Virginia Vazzana, MD—earned their degrees at commencement in New York City. Dr. Vazzana, daughter of SGU alumnus Thomas Vazzana, MD SGU ’85, attended the Med-Vet Summer Leadership Academy in 2010 after it received rave reviews from her older sister, who had attended three years earlier. She accepted a seat at SGU’s School of Medicine, where she met and married her classmate Hamfreth Shaul Rahming, MD SGU ’17. Dr. Vazzana began her pediatric residency at The Dwaine and Cynthia Willet Children’s Hospital of Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, Georgia, this month.

“The Academy was truly the first experience that I had of what medical school and becoming a physician is really like,” stated Dr. Vazzana. “I still remember the first time I worked on a human cadaver, the first time I wore a white coat and shadowed doctors to see real patients, the first time I learned to use an ultrasound machine, and so much more. These things all happened at the Academy. For me, being exposed to these opportunities really was a perfect way to confirm what I wanted to do with my future and is a huge reason I became a doctor.”

SGU Grad Brings Hyperbaric Medicine to Grenada

Dr. Lutz ‘Joe’ Amechi, MD SGU ’93, resident physician and managing director of St. Augustine’s Medical Services (SAMS), celebrates sustained efforts to expand healthcare services in Grenada, introducing the nation’s first hyperbaric chamber and a 64 slice CT machine. St. George’s University is partnering with SAMS to provide medical students with a clinical selective in hyperbaric medicine.

Rated among the top diving destinations in the world, Grenada regularly welcomes fervent divers and major diving clubs to its waters. However, with no hyperbaric chamber on island, the risk of decompression sickness—also known as divers’ disease or the bends—remains a constant threat.

An avid diver while attending St. George’s University, Lutz “Joe” Amechi, MD SGU ’93, often wondered what happened if divers were stricken with the bends, which can result in crippling injuries—even paralysis or death—due to arterial gas embolisms. More than two decades later, Dr. Amechi has helped secure Grenada’s first hyperbaric chamber at St. Augustine’s Medical Services (SAMS) in hopes of significantly reducing the effects of dive-related injuries.

“For years, our career fishermen have been risking their lives diving for their livelihood in very dangerous conditions. With the nearest hyperbaric chamber located in Barbados, there was no means to treat the damages caused by dive injuries in a timely manner,” said Dr. Amechi, Managing Director and Resident Physician, SAMS. “Having a hyperbaric chamber on shore will give both our locals and our visitors tremendous confidence in our capabilities and support of our dive sector in Grenada.”

Additionally, SGU has partnered with SAMS in starting a selective in hyperbaric medicine, with the first group of students slated to participate this fall. As faculty advisor, Dr. Duncan Kirkby was instrumental in both acquiring and building an educational program around the hyperbaric chamber.

“One of our main goals is to make our students stand out,” said Dr. Kirkby, Professor of Neuroscience and Associate Dean of Students at SGU. “These selectives provide another avenue to help our students set themselves apart from every other medical student. We’re offering a dynamic way to augment the competitiveness of our graduates for residency.”

Also teaching the course in conjunction with SGU is Dr. Tyler Sexton, President and Chief Executive Officer of Caribbean Hyperbaric Medicine (CHM) and a former student of Dr. Kirkby. Working with SAMS to supply both the hyperbaric chamber and the medical knowhow, Dr. Sexton created CHM to focus directly on bringing these types of programs to the Caribbean.

“These courses enable students to become actual certified technicians, allowing them to move into the world of hyperbaric medicine. They can also choose to become an attending hyperbaric physician, giving them another pathway of using their education and furthering their career in medicine,” said Dr. Sexton. “This program doesn’t include just the coursework but the clinical hours as well that gives these students invaluable hands-on experience utilizing the hyperbaric chamber. This will open their eyes to the wound care component, to limb salvage, and reducing diabetic amputation rates. Hyperbaric medicine bridges a variety of specialties, including emergency medicine, surgery, and primary care. It gives them exposure to many areas and will help guide them to a fun and dynamic career as they move forward.”

According to Dr. Sexton, the fully remanufactured hyperbaric chamber is accredited by Divers Alert Network and is recognized by the American College of Hyperbaric Medicine. It has the capability of treating four patients at once and houses seven breathing systems. It can perform approximately 100,000 dives before having to replace any of its parts and is approved by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and 510(k) cleared by the Food and Drug Administration.

Used to deliver hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), the hyperbaric chamber was developed to treat underwater divers suffering from decompression sickness. It has since been approved for the treatment of air or gas embolisms, gangrenous digits and limbs, sickle cell disease, thermal burns, and other wounds that fail to heal through conventional treatment.

“The hyperbaric chamber will undoubtedly be useful in recompressing divers suffering from the bends but hyperbaric medicine extends far beyond that and is now used extensively in treating bone infections, ischemic strokes, diabetic foot ulcers and the list goes on,” added Dr. Amechi. “HBOT can cut the healing time by about a third to a half. Patients suffering with sickle cell disease, it shortens the length of the crisis and gets them back out much faster. With the hyperbaric chamber, recovery time is much quicker and the recovery percentage is much higher.”

St. George’s University Appoints Neil Olson as New Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Neil Olson

St. George’s University is proud to announce the appointment of Neil C. Olson, DVM, PhD, as the new Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Olson is currently Dean of the University of Missouri (MU) College of Veterinary Medicine and will officially take over the position of St. George’s current Dean, Dr. Timothy Ogilvie, on August 15, 2017. SGU has benefited greatly from the vision and leadership of Dr. Ogilvie, who is stepping down after a highly successful three-year term as Dean.

“Under the direction of Dr. Ogilvie, the School of Veterinary Medicine has flourished, and our students have continued to excel and to receive the very best veterinary medical education,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of St. George’s University. “We look forward to welcoming Dr. Olson and working with him to continue building our program and reinforcing our commitment to veterinary medicine and research.”

As Dr. Ogilvie did so wonderfully during his tenure, Dr. Olson will oversee the SVM’s academic units, centers, and initiatives, while providing leadership for the planning, development, implementation, assessment, and improvement of all of the School’s programs, policies, and infrastructure. He will lead a contingent of more than 100 faculty and staff at St. George’s University. In addition, he will represent the SVM among the 48 other schools of veterinary medicine accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education worldwide.

“I am honored to continue the great work that my predecessor, Dr. Ogilvie, has already laid out,” Dr. Olson said. “I hope to keep building upon our numerous partnerships with other institutions across the world to recruit and train the best veterinarians. I’m also excited to continue developing our curriculum so that veterinary students can take advantage of the unique global environment that Grenada has to offer.”

Dr. Olson has helped the University of Missouri make significant strides during his 10-year deanship. Among them is the recent establishment of a new animal radiation oncology and imaging facility outside St. Louis. Prior to his appointment at Missouri in 2007, Dr. Olson spent nearly 25 years at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine in a variety of administrative and professorial roles, including Senior Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, and Director of the CVM’s Centennial Biomedical Campus.

Dr. Timothy Ogilvie

Dr. Olson obtained his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. After completing his surgery residency within Michigan State University’s Department of Small Animal Surgery and Medicine, he went on to earn his Doctor of Philosophy in physiology from Michigan State University.

Dr. Olson brings with him a tremendous research background, including several programs funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and American Lung Association. In addition, he has contributed to such publications as the American Journal of Veterinary Research, British Veterinary Journal, and American Journal of Physiology, and has served as a reviewer for more than a dozen scientific journals. He is a member of the AVMA, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and American Physiological Society (APS).

Dr. Olson succeeds Dr. Ogilvie, who is retiring after a three-year term as SVM Dean. His outstanding service and dedication to the University has been wide-ranging, and St. George’s is pleased that he has agreed to assist in the leadership transition in the coming year. His contributions to St. George’s have been invaluable in establishing superior instruction and commitment to student success as hallmarks of SVM.

St. George’s University to Welcome Renowned Veterinary Anesthetists at First AVA Meeting in Caribbean

Grenada will be at the center of veterinary anesthesia discussion worldwide next spring as more than 200 leading experts in the field will descend on the island for the semi-annual Association of Veterinary Anesthetists (AVA) conference. Usually convened in Europe where the organization was founded, this will mark the first time in the organization’s history that the conference has been held in the Caribbean.

Dr. Karin Kalchofner Guerrero, Associate Professor in Veterinary Anesthesia at St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine, worked diligently to arrange the meeting in Grenada, for which SGU and the Radisson Grenada Beach Resort in Grand Anse will serve as hosts.

“The AVA meetings attract veterinary anesthetists, surgeons, technicians, researchers and other professionals from across the globe,” commented Dr. Guerrero. “Having the conference here will provide a great opportunity to showcase the evolution of SGU over the last 40 years into one of the world’s most renowned centers of international education today.”

Themed “Anesthesia and Analgesia—Myths and Misconceptions,” the conference will feature lectures and abstract sessions from a wide range of delegates. Presentations include “Pain in Mice and Man: Ironic Adventures in Translation” by Dr. Jeffrey Mogil, Pain Genetics Lab, McGill University, Canada; “Evaluating recovery of horses from anesthesia: moving beyond the subjective” by Dr. Stuart Clark-Price, University of Illinois; and “Safe anesthesia in young children: what really matters”, by Prof. Markus Weiss, Anesthesiologist-in-Chief, University Children’s Hospital, Zurich, Switzerland.

The meeting, which will take place March 11-13, 2018, will also feature a pre-congress day, which is aimed at interns, residents, practitioners, and anyone who shares a common interest in anesthesia, analgesia, and animal welfare to exchange ideas, expand their knowledge, and develop new skills.

Recent meetings have been held in such locations as Paris, France; Helsinki, Finland; and Santorini, with the Fall 2017 meeting scheduled for Berlin, Germany. Dr. Guerrero believes that SGU provides the perfect platform for members of the veterinary anesthesia community to collaborate on utilizing and developing new and established techniques, drugs and ideas, as well as, promote their brand awareness and engagement, and network with veterinary professionals from around the globe.

 

Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Recognizes SGU Student with Inaugural Leadership Award

SGUSVM student Noreen Wong, recipient of the inaugural Canadian Veterinary Medical Association’s International Student Award.

Through the student organization she helped create—Students of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (SCVMA)—St. George’s University student Noreen Wong has been a leader on veterinary issues and animal welfare advocacy in Grenada. The CVMA acknowledged her efforts this spring by awarding her with its inaugural International Student Award, created specifically for its student affiliate members at international schools.

“This has been the most exciting news that I’ve had since getting into vet school. It really means a lot,” enthused Ms. Wong. “Although most people think you should be proud of yourself because you won the award, I’m most proud because I represented SGU. During the nomination process for this award, you have so many people supporting you from faculty, staff and students, so I wanted to make them proud.”

As President, Ms. Wong along with the help of her fellow Canadian students formed the student club to integrate the CVMA’s vision of promoting animal welfare and One Health—ensuring optimal care for animals, people and the environment on the island of Grenada. She was selected as SGU’s candidate for the award based on the strong leadership demonstrated not only through her work with the SCVMA but also in her role as a peer tutor in the Department of Educational Services. Ms. Wong has been a dedicated member of the veterinary community, volunteering at the SGU One Health One Medicine Clinic—an outreach event which brings together the veterinary and medical students offering free medical care to both humans and animals. She is also a member of SGU’s Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association (SCAVMA) as well as the SVM Surgery Club and Students of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society.

The CVMA Award, instituted in 1966, consists of a plaque and a monetary award of $800 presented annually to a third-year veterinary student at each of the Canadian veterinary colleges. The recipient of the International Student Award is selected by his/her classmates on the basis of leadership and achievement in student affairs.

“It’s fantastic that Noreen, our representative from SGU, was set apart from the other nominees. I’m really proud of her,” praised Dr. Tara Paterson, Associate Professor, Small Animal Medicine and Surgery at SGU. “Noreen is a very hard worker and has been involved with the organization during an exciting time for us, from being the first school outside of Canada to start an official student chapter of the CVMA to now being recognized for having won its first International Student Award. Her winning this award also serves as motivation for our other CVMA members and e-board members to continue on the path we’re going and put their best foot forward in working towards many more future successes.”