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.”

Faculty Development Director Brings Innovative Approaches to Teaching

As part of its continued mission to enhance the instructional, professional, and organizational development of its faculty, St. George’s University’s Department of Educational Services (DES) welcomed Diane Salter as its Director of Faculty Development this spring. Dr. Salter joins True Blue after making international contributions to teaching and learning, with a focus on innovative approaches to faculty development.

“I am extremely happy to have been invited to join the DES team and look forward to being part of the dynamic SGU community,” Dr. Salter said. “I hope to learn about and contribute to the needs of faculty and students at SGU. I believe in leading through example to guide colleagues in developing and evaluating their skills to achieve their best. Individuals are unique, in approaches to teaching and approaches to life; this uniqueness should be respected and encouraged.”

Dr. Salter joined SGU after serving as the Vice Provost of Teaching and Learning at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in British Columbia, Canada. Previous roles in Canada and internationally include as Dean of Curriculum and Faculty Development at Sheridan Polytechnic University in Ontario; Associate Professor and Head of Faculty Development at the University of Hong Kong; Senior Academic Developer at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University; and positions in Ontario, Canada as Assistant Research Professor at the University of Waterloo, and Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto.

While at the University of Hong Kong, her work with medical faculty members Drs. LC Chan and Julie Chen resulted in the curriculum developed for the Special Studies Module in Medicine titled “Pen, Brush, and Camera,” work that merited the Ron Hardin Award for Innovation in Curriculum Development in Medical Humanities in 2010.

In her international consulting work, Dr. Salter has designed and delivered staff development workshops in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Macau, Taiwan, China and Australia. With more than 20 years of experience in teaching and leadership internationally, she has over 75 publications, including book chapters, refereed journal articles, short stories and refereed conference presentations. She also authored the book, “Cases on Quality Teaching Practices in Higher Education,” which is based on her work with award-winning teachers at research-intensive universities internationally. Published in 2013, it focuses on the issue of developing and maintaining quality teaching and learning environments in higher education institutions.

In March 2017, Dr. Salter was invited to present as a panelist at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW). Under the priority theme of “women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work,” Dr. Salter’s panel discussed “Mentorship in the Changing World of Work.” Although inclement weather prevented her from attending, she nevertheless reported on the data from a pilot project on mentoring she co-leads with the Canadian National Federation of University Women. The goal of the mentoring program is to enable women entering the careers in science, technology, arts, engineering and medicine (STEAM), as well as the areas of politics and organizational Leadership, to learn from women who are experienced in these fields. Dr. Salter was joined on the UNCSW panel by Dr. Madeline Kalbach, Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology, University of Calgary; Cheryl Hayles, Principal, Halton District School Board (Ontario, Canada) and VP International, CFUW; Raine Liliefeldt from the YMCA, Canada; and Ashli Akins, Founder and President of Mosqoy who discussed the importance of empowering women in Peru.

Dr. Salter holds a Doctor of Philosophy in cognitive sciences from the University of Toronto, a Master of Science in educational psychology from the University of Calgary, and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto, with majors in psychology and exceptionality of human learning.

SAS International Business Student Wins Best Elevator Pitch at X-Culture Symposium

For St. George’s University’s Renée La Touche, participating in the 2016 X-Culture Symposium last month could not have gone any better. The Grenadian-born, third-year International Business student in the School of Arts and Sciences not only won a spot in the competitive selection process from a pool of over 4,000 candidates but also won the award for Best Elevator Pitch at this year’s competition. Judged by nine business professionals individually, Ms. La Touche had to present a 60-second sales pitch as to why she should be hired using on-the-spot feedback to improve her pitch each time she met with a new judge, all without the use of cue cards or additional notes.

“It was an honor to get advice from actual entrepreneurs and people who are in the industry. These were international business owners who spoke about what is expected of us outside of the classroom,” said Ms. La Touche. “This experience really taught me how to be adaptable in a fast-paced, high-pressure situation. I also learned valuable networking skills.”

After a second round of grueling competition, Ms La Touche was chosen as one out of 50 students to attend the X-Culture Symposium aboard a cruise ship. She was placed on a five-person international team that included students from Germany, Peru, Canada, and the US. Ms. La Touche and her teammates collaborated virtually for 4-6 weeks prior to the conference with some additional time allotted on the cruise ship to finish up their report working face-to-face. On the last day of the conference, all teams presented their findings and recommendations to SYKES executives and X-Culture professors, with awards presented to the winners.

“The best part of this experience for me was getting to interact with people from many different cultures,” stated Ms. La Touche. “There were students there from 29 different countries, and I learned about their culture and I got to share my own.”

The X-Culture Symposium is co-organized with the Academy of International Business USA Southeast Division and sponsored by SYKES, one of the world’s largest multinational companies specializing in business process outsourcing services and IT solutions. Held twice a year, the four-day conference includes an International Business Competition, meetings with entrepreneurs, academics, and community leaders, as well as access to all Academy of International Business Southeast conference events, including scholarly presentations, panel sessions, professional development workshops, and networking and social events.

The conference took place on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Brilliance of the Seas, which departed Tampa, Florida, and traveled to and from Cozumel, Mexico. Ms. La Touche professed to her mentor, SGU professor Dr. Reccia Charles, that she would “make every minute of the experience count.”

“This event was phenomenal,” Ms. La Touche said. “It not only taught me how to work well with others but I also got to listen to some of the world’s leading international business scholars, who spoke to us about what we had learned in the classroom and now got to apply in real-life scenarios.”

Ms. La Touche is expected to complete her undergraduate degree next December, and plans to attend graduate school in Washington, DC, to pursue a master’s degree in international governance and politics. In the future, she hopes to work for the Organization of American States or the United Nations, to become a politician, and hopefully the first-ever female Prime Minister of Grenada. Ms. La Touche was also offered a coaching position at the next X-Culture Symposium, which will be held in Washington, DC.