SVM Alumni Study Soft Tissue Surgery at Continuing Ed Conference

Since opening in 1999, St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine has graduated more than 1,400 veterinarians who have practiced all over the world. In October, its Alumni Association, the SVMAA, welcomed back many of them for a continuing education conference reviewing methods in soft tissue surgery.

The two-day conference featured presentations by Dr. Karen Tobias, Professor of Small Animal Surgery at the University of Tennessee. Internationally recognized for her work on portosystemic shunts in dogs, Dr. Tobias shared her expertise on making these surgeries easier and more successful, while also enjoying the campus and island that provides training for many of the clinical students she sees at U of T.

“I like to give practical and up-to-date information. Also, because I’m a book editor and author, I get to see some of the more recent information that comes in; it’s nice to be able to share that with other veterinarians,” said Dr. Tobias. “These lectures provide some of the newer literature regarding the effects of ovariohysterectomy and castration on dogs and cats. I also discussed surgical techniques for treating common canine and feline head and neck conditions, and inexpensive, effective methods for wound management, particularly in farm animals.”

Dr. Tobias has spent over 17 years of her 30-year veterinary medical career at the University of Tennessee, and has written more than 100 scientific articles and book chapters. She is also the author of the textbook, Manual of Small Animal Soft Tissue Surgery; co-author of Atlas of Ear Diseases of the Dog and Cat; and co-editor of the textbook, Veterinary Surgery: Small Animal.

“The SGUSVM Continuing Education events are a fantastic opportunity for our alumni to return to Grenada for a weekend of high-quality CE, fun, and nostalgia,” said Dr. Tara Paterson, SVMAA President. “Our alumni attendees love visiting all of their favorite spots and celebrating 40 years of growth at SGU, all while mixing in a little learning. This fall, we were fortunate to have Dr. Tobias as our presenter. It doesn’t get better than that.”

SAS Lecture Series Discusses Effects of Parental Migration

Meschida Philip introduces her documentary at Patrick Adams Hall.

Meschida Philip, Grenadian filmmaker and founder of Meaningful Projekts Creative Group, recently showcased her documentary, “Scars of Our Mothers’ Dreams”, as part of St. George’s University School of Arts and Sciences Open Lecture Series. The film, which offers a unique and intimate glimpse into the complexities of parental migration through the lenses of children left behind, was followed by a spirited panel discussion with the mix of faculty, staff, students, and the general public in attendance at Patrick Adams Hall.

The lecture was a collaborative effort between SGU’s Department of Humanities and Social Sciences and the University of the West Indies Open Campus.

“I wanted to start a conversation by looking at how children are emotionally affected when a parent is gone,” said Ms. Philip. “In most cases, we tend to focus on the financial gain—that parents were leaving to make better lives for their children. But what about the importance of nurturing the emotional connection between a mother and her child?”

Years after her own personal struggle to overcome the feeling of childhood abandonment, Ms. Philip returned to Grenada to share the stories of others with similar childhood experiences, describing how their lives were impacted after their parents migrated.

“I wanted to examine not just the economic benefits of a parent migrating but how we the children were affected emotionally and psychologically,” stated Ms. Philip. “Also, I wanted to find out if there were any common themes between myself and other people that affected us from childhood into adulthood.”

“Migration is a hot button issue right now that has both local and international appeal,” said Dr. Damian Greaves, Associate Professor, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences. “In the past, the focus would usually be on the great economic benefit to the Caribbean in terms of remittances from the diaspora. However, I thought it was very important to highlight Ms. Philip’s unique perspective when addressing an issue that is so little talked about but has such a large effect on so many in our Grenadian community.

“The purpose of this lecture was not only to start the conversation but also to bring an awareness to bear on the Grenadian public, that there are people who have been scarred psychologically and emotionally by the migration of their parents, who through no conscious and deliberate fault of their own, thought that they were building a better life for their children but were unaware of what transpired in their absence,” added Dr. Greaves. “Our hope is that when looking at the issue of migration we can be mindful of the social policies that are needed in order to affect change at the state level.”

AMSA Conference in Grenada Dives Into Medicine That Matters in 2017

SGU AMSA’s President, Judy Wong (far left), and SGU AMSA Executive Board Members greet conference guests.

The St. George’s University-led chapter of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) brought together a combination of expert facilitators and physicians-in-training during its 2017 AMSA International Conference in Grenada. Assembled for only the second time outside of the United States, the two-day conference, held October 21 and 22, focused on “Preparing for Medicine that Matters,” providing attendees with an opportunity to explore current issues in medicine, build clinical skills, and connect with peers and other healthcare professionals.

“The conference provided a networking opportunity and a chance to educate our students outside of a classroom setting,” said Judy Wong, SGU AMSA President. “In particular, the Practicing Physicians Panel allowed students to have their questions answered about various specialties and the road to pursuing them.”

In addition to more than 15 dynamic clinical skills sessions, students experienced an interactive exhibit fair that showcased medical technology that will shape their future practice. The conference also featured a keynote address by Dr. Marios Loukas, Dean of Basic Sciences at St. George’s University, and Professor of Anatomy in the School of Medicine. Other guest speakers included: Rebekah Apple, Director of Student Affairs and Programming, AMSA National; Elizabeth Ingraham, Assistant Vice President, Communications and Outreach at the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates; and Dr. Anthony Orsini, Neonatologist, Orlando Health, and Founder of the Breaking Bad News Foundation.

“This year’s speakers not only shared insights on residency preparedness but also techniques for having tough conversations, such as delivering bad news to patients and providing help on how to navigate ethical dilemmas that challenge physicians today,” said Ms. Wong.

Brushing up on anatomy and building clinical skills with an ultrasound lab.

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.

New Beginnings at the School of Veterinary Medicine White Coat Ceremony

At the Fall 2017 School of Veterinary Medicine White Coat Ceremony, St. George’s University welcomed a new dean, a new class of students, and the return of a graduate who had navigated the course on which they were about to embark.

Alumnus and Master of Ceremonies Emily Turitto, DVM SGU ’15, counselled the incoming class on the importance of reciting the Oath of Professional Commitment.

“Today you’re not only receiving your white coat but you’re also taking your veterinary oath which is a very big commitment,” said Dr. Turitto, an Instructor in the Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery at SGU. “At the time I took mine, I thought it was exciting, but I didn’t really understand the responsibility and accountability that I would have for animal welfare for the rest of my life.

“Please take your veterinary oath seriously because at some point you will question that oath and whether or not you’re making a real difference,” she added. “You will be given the training, support and knowledge to bring animals into the world, prevent diseases not only for animals but for humans, cure cancer, save lives, and extend the life of man’s best friend. Once you have the best interest of the animals at heart, you can be unstoppable.”

Attending his first-ever White Coat Ceremony at St. George’s University was Dr. Neil C. Olson, newly appointed Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine. He welcomed and congratulated the students on this next step in realizing their dream of becoming a veterinarian.

“To the Class of 2021 there are many aspects of becoming a veterinarian that you will encounter that go beyond the diagnosis and treatment of animal maladies and preventive care,” Dr. Olson said. “You will interact with academic faculty, clients, referring vets, donors and hospital staff all of whom play an important role in the functionality of practicing veterinary medicine.

“I would argue that the vet profession is very much a people-oriented profession. Your success as a veterinarian will have more to do with your interactions with people than any other single variable. I look forward to greeting you on your graduation day and working with you as future alumni as we navigate through the challenges and opportunities that surface in our changing environment.”

The Dean also took the opportunity to introduce Dr. Kent Hoblet, Professor and Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Mississippi State University (MSU). Since 2006, as Dean, he has provided expert leadership of both the College and its 509(a)(2) not-for-profit corporation, MSU Clinical Outreach Services, with clinical service and teaching operations at Animal Emergency and Referral Center (Jackson) and Veterinary Neurology and Imaging Center (Starkville).

“Keep a positive attitude, make every day count, keep an open mind to opportunities, and remember that the world needs you as highly qualified doctors of veterinary medicine,” Dr. Hoblet said.

Among the proud family members and friends also in attendance at this term’s SVM White Coat Ceremony was Dr. David Mordasky, a mixed animal practitioner who, along with his wife, Judith, founded Stafford Veterinary Center and Willington Veterinary Center in Connecticut. A practicing veterinarian for more than 40 years, Dr. Mordasky has six children, five of whom have careers ranging from attorney to civil engineer. However, it was his youngest son, Andrew, who made the decision to follow in his dad’s footsteps. The proud father coated his son on stage during the ceremony.

“My father has been a big part of my education, and to have him be able to coat me on such a significant day in my life just makes it all the more special,” said Andrew Mordasky. “I would go to work with him and I always enjoyed spending that time together and witnessing firsthand what being a veterinarian was all about. In fact, I learned about St. George’s through three SGU grads, two of which worked as associates at my dad’s office. They were instrumental in steering me toward SGU.”

He hopes to join the more than 1,400 SVM graduates of SGU’s veterinary medical program, which accepted its first class in August 1999. The School has since gained full accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and the Small Animal Clinic became the second practice outside the United States and Canada to earn American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) accreditation.

Class of 2021 Officially Enters Medical Profession at Fall 2017 White Coat Ceremony

The White Coat Ceremony was underway, and St. George’s University alumni Nina Kayeum, MD SGU ’90, and her husband Paul Capelli, MD SGU ’90, sat front and center. Nearly three decades since earning their own degrees, they were there to support their daughter, Trina, on her big day—the first step in her own path to becoming a physician.

“I’m overjoyed and overwhelmed,” said Dr. Kayeum, an internal medicine specialist in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “I wouldn’t have believed it if someone had told me over 30 years ago that I would be coming to St. George’s not only to pursue my dream of medicine but that I would find my partner in life and then have a daughter who would also come here to pursue the same dream. I can’t thank SGU and the people of Grenada enough—they’ve basically shaped my future.”

Dr. Kayeum was later welcomed on stage to coat her daughter, who joined her Fall 2017 classmates in taking the Oath of Professional Commitment. Donning their white coats, the Class of 2021 joined its fellow students from the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program, who began their journey at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom two weeks prior.

“Having my mom put on my white coat was very emotional for me,” said Trina Capelli. “I feel both humbled and blessed to be here to have this opportunity not only to pursue my dream but to be following in both my parents’ footsteps. I decided very early on that I wanted to become a doctor and although I had different options of where I could attend medical school, growing up hearing stories about SGU and it being a part of my family’s history, I almost felt a calling to go here. I believe this is where I am meant to be.”

Delivering a very personal and energetic keynote address was Dr. Tochi Iroku-Malize, Chair and Professor of Family Medicine at Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell and Chair of the Department of Family Medicine for Northwell Health in New York. She counseled the newly enrolled medical students that “with knowledge comes responsibility and accountability.” They were now taking on a major social responsibility, and with it a unique privilege that society bestows upon them as part of donning the white coat.

Echoing this sentiment was the evening’s master of ceremonies, Dr. Tita Castor, MD SGU ’88, Medical Director of Palliative Care Service, NYC Health and Hospitals/Elmhurst, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

“This coat is laden with meaning,” she said. “With this coat, you will have the privilege and the burden of being part of people’s lives during their happiest and saddest moments, hearing their deepest hopes, fears, and secrets.”

In addition, the School of Medicine White Coat Ceremonies punctuated the first full day of activities of the University’s Beyond Spice Family Weekend. A customary element to each term in Grenada, students and family members get to soak up nature and culture on the Spice Isle prior to attending the special ceremony that marks their induction into the medical profession.

Global Students Celebrate Annual White Coat Ceremony at Northumbria University

St. George’s University medical students from across the globe were welcomed to Northumbria University on August 18 for the 10th annual White Coat Ceremony.

Students were presented with their White Coats by leading medical professionals, including keynote speaker and critical care trauma expert Daniel Herr, MD SGU ’82.

The students are part of the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program (KBTGSP), which allows St. George’s University medical students to complete their first year at Northumbria University‘s campus in Newcastle. The program is an exciting option for students who want to gain an international perspective on global health care.

Dr. Daniel Herr, Associate Professor at St. George’s University and Chief of Critical Care Services at University of Maryland Medical Center, has a special interest in the use of hypothermia for resuscitation and in the avoidance and treatment of acute confusional states in the ICU.

“We are incredibly proud of our partnership with Northumbria University and it is very rewarding for us to see all the students attending the White Coat Ceremony today,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of St. George’s University. “This is a significant milestone in the life of a doctor as it symbolizes their first step into the world of medicine. Dr. Herr’s speech was extremely moving, not only for students, but for the entire faculty. His career and his studies are an inspiration for all future doctors.”

The White Coat Ceremony is a longstanding tradition that began in 1993 at the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Columbia University, and is now seen at many universities around the world. It symbolizes the induction of students into the medical profession, and affirms their obligation of service to others.

Students will undergo their first year of studies at Northumbria University, with the remainder of their degrees being completed at St. George’s University, followed by clinical studies in the United States and NHS hospitals in the United Kingdom.

St. George’s University to Host Major International One Health One Medicine Symposium

Uniquely positioned to lead a discussion on collaborative, global health topics, St. George’s University is hosting a two-day One Health One Medicine Symposium on October 21 and 22. In addition to being a hub for international education across medicine, veterinary medicine, and public health, the University also holds the distinction of being a World Health Organization Collaborating Center on Environmental and Occupational Health. The speakers at the conference are pioneers and leaders in this field.

“One Health One Medicine is the convergence of human, animal, and ecosystem health, resulting in a joined-up approach between complementary sectors that, all too often, are practiced in a vacuum,” said Dr. Calum Macpherson, Vice Provost for International Program Development at SGU. “Each of these practices are inextricably connected, and by learning from each other and pooling resources, great progress can be made for the benefit of human and animal kind.”

St. George’s University’s OHOM initiative is aimed to help facilitate the further development of opportunities locally and, in collaboration with international institutions, to address global health challenges affecting the health of people, animals, and the environment. The initiative has evolved for 10 years, most recently to include a series of SGU-sponsored OHOM conferences, open access courses, and workshops, culminating in the upcoming symposium.

Students and faculty from the School of Medicine and School of Veterinary Medicine host free wellness check-ups at a One Health One Medicine clinic in Grand Anse, Grenada.

Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of SGU, is also a professor in the Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine as well as a tropical disease specialist who has worked on one health issues around the world. He views Grenada as the ideal location to examine issues related to the One Health One Medicine philosophy.

“It is fitting that SGU, an international center of excellence for medical training, is hosting a major conference on the importance of a global approach to human, animal, and ecosystem health,” said Dr. Olds. “Our student body, both past and present, come from all corners of the globe, and by creating a space for these experiences and ideas to come together, we will continue to drive progress in all areas of medicine.”

Distinguished international experts speaking at the event include:

  • Guy Palmer, DVM, PhD – Regents Professor of Pathology and Infectious Diseases, The Jan and Jack Creighton Endowed Chair & Senior Director of Global Health, Director of the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, Washington State University, USA
  • Fitzroy Henry, PhD – College of Health Sciences, University of Technology, Jamaica, West Indies
  • Sarah Cleaveland, BVSC, PhD, FRS – Professor of Comparative Epidemiology, Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, College of Medical, Veterinary, and Life Sciences, Glasgow University, Scotland, UK
  • Chulathida Chomchai, MD – Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Mahidol University International College, Bangkok, Thailand
  • Summon Chomchai – Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand

A call for abstracts, to be considered by the symposium’s Scientific Advisory Committee, for oral and poster contributions to this symposium are now invited. More information and the template for the abstracts and poster presentations can be attained from Ms. Naomi Alexander.

To register for the symposium or to submit a research abstract for discussion, visit the One Health One Medicine webpage.

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.”

St. George’s University Honored by Chicago’s Norwegian American Hospital

Daniel Ricciardi, MD SGU ’81, Dean of Clinical Studies (left) and Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of St. George’s University, accepted the Power of Community Award from Jose R. Sanchez, President and Chief Executive Officer, Norwegian American Hospital.

CHICAGO — On June 22, St. George’s University received Norwegian American Hospital’s Power of Community Award for its leadership in the quest to provide quality care to patients across Chicago.

“We are privileged to receive this honor from our friends at Norwegian American Hospital,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of St. George’s University. “We have made educating the primary care workforce of the future our mission, and we are grateful that Norwegian American Hospital supports that mission.”

Power of Community Award recipients are selected for their dedication to the community served by Norwegian American Hospital and their efforts to provide great medical care in the area. This is the third year the award was presented.

The award ceremony coincided with the inauguration of Norwegian American Hospital’s newly-accredited Family Residency Training Program, which will begin training medical graduates on July 1. The program was developed to address the shortage of primary care physicians in Illinois. There are less than 13,000 primary care doctors available to serve Illinois’s population of nearly 13 million.

“The shortage of primary care physicians is one of the chief public health challenges our state faces,” said Jose Sanchez, Chief Executive Officer of Norwegian American Hospital. “Together with St. George’s University, we look forward to doing our part to help solve it.”