Bound For Down Under: Rachel Halbert Becomes First DVM Licensee in New Zealand

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St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine has prepared Dr. Rachel Halbert well for her next adventure, which will take her across the globe. In January, Dr. Halbert will begin serving as Veterinary Technical Supervisor for the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, becoming the first-ever SGU DVM graduate to be licensed in the country.

The global education she received at St. George’s provided the Wisconsin native with a natural springboard for her professional horizons upon graduation. She attained her Master of Public Health (MPH) and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) concurrently, fast-tracking her for a career in a leadership role in veterinary medicine and public health, which she found to be a “much more satisfying route” compared to traditional veterinary medicine.

“Going to St. George’s gave me a global perspective on different disease processes,” Dr. Halbert said. “I valued having professors from all over; everyone had personal stories from where they lived, and the education reflected it as well. Just because something happens in the US doesn’t mean it happens someplace else, and vice versa.”

The Ministry, one of the largest veterinary employers in New Zealand, contributes toward the country’s long-term economic and nutritional growth by maintaining its agriculture, food, forestry, fisheries and marine industries. According to the Ministry, exports from the country climbed from $39 million to $44.2 million from 2010 to 2011, an increase of 13 percent. The sharpest increase by percentage (25%) came in the dairy sector, on which Dr. Halbert concentrated throughout her career in veterinary medicine.

She will be based in the port town of Timaru, located approximately two-and-a-half hours from the city of Christchurch. Her primary responsibilities will include maintaining humane conditions for animals, performing health checks and ensuring that communicable diseases aren’t introduced into the food chain or general population.

With more than 140 countries represented on the Grenada and UK campuses, St. George’s University is an international institution with a conscious international outreach. Just months before Dr. Halbert’s appointment in New Zealand, Dr. Lauren Havenga, DVM (SGUSVM ‘10), became the first SVM graduate to be licensed to practice in South Africa. The University is one of just 12 AVMA-accredited veterinary medical schools outside the United States and Canada. The University encourages students to take advantage of the opportunity to take dual degrees in public health and/or business, leading to leadership roles in the professions.

As she embarks on her next adventure, when she must be prepared for anything that comes her way, Dr. Halbert is thrilled to have a solid foundation in place – the education she received at St. George’s University’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

“I’m open to whatever comes my way with time,” Dr. Halbert said. “I don’t have a clear vision of where I want to go from here, but I would love to see where this opportunity takes me. St. George’s prepared me to consider a world of opportunities.”

US National Academic Advising Association Recognizes St. George’s Department of Educational Services

The National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) announced that St. George’s University Department of Educational Services was selected as recipient of the 2011 Outstanding Institutional Advising Program Certificate of Merit Award for its Supplemental Learning Program (SLP). Based in the US with members representing all 50 states and Puerto Rico, for more than 30 years the NACADA has supported academic advising and recognized higher education programs that contribute to academic advising and student-related support services. St. George’s is the first Caribbean institution outside of Puerto Rico to be recognized by the association.

The award was presented to the SLP unit in early October during NACADA’s annual conference in Denver, Colorado. “We are honored that NACADA has recognized the efforts of the Supplemental Learning Program,” said Dr. Adrian Havenga, Chair and Professor of Education Services.

The voluntary group sessions are held at least once a week, providing extra academic support for the larger classes offered at the University that are traditionally found to be more rigorous. Although available to all students, Dr. Havenga stressed how the program has been extremely beneficial for incoming students. “Even though it is not mandatory, students elect to use this resource—especially in the beginning of the semester when they are still finding their feet,” he added.

In addition to surveying students and faculty, the Department monitors attendance and performance scores to review the outcomes of the program and the progress of participants. “We are constantly looking for ways to improve and for new methods that will help our students master the material,” said Peter Slinger, Instructor of Educational Services, of the continuous evaluation that goes in to developing a top learning support program.

Since its inception in 2000, the SLP functions as an academic support group primarily for students in their undergraduate and preprofessional studies, including Arts and Sciences, Charter Foundation, Premedical, and Preveterinary Medical programs. In addition to the SLP, the Department of Education Services provides academic development and support services to students and faculty across all disciplines. Close to 100 percent of the University’s students—and many of the professors—in all schools avail themselves of the support offered through a variety of innovative programs, including time management, note-taking skills, and utilizing technology effectively in teaching and learning.

NACADA is US-based international organization representing 10,000 members from higher education institutions from around the world. Members include faculty, advisors, counselors, administrators and students. The goal of NACADA has been to honor individuals and institutions making significant contributions to the improvement of academic advising.

SGU Tops US Performance on USMLE Step 1

In 2010, SGU’s US and Canadian medical students surpassed medical school students in the US and Canada with a 94% first time pass rate on the United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 1. In fact, overall, SGU first time USMLE takers – students who were from 49 different countries – equaled the first time pass rate of 92% in the US and Canada for 2010.

“We are thrilled to be able to report this result,” said Chancellor Charles Modica of St. George’s University. “St. George’s has always had a strong commitment to teaching and learning – and this result only serves to reinforce our focus on training excellent doctors for the US, Canada, and the world.”

Margaret Lambert, Dean of Enrolment Planning considers St. George’s unique Department of Educational Services a cornerstone of the success SGU students have seen when taking the USMLE. “SGU’s success with student support services is borne out in the results we have achieved,” remarked Dean Lambert. “Our faculty is committed to excellence in teaching, both in Grenada and at our Global Scholars Program in the UK, and our commitment to student success supports our mission as an institution of teaching excellence.”

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*Excludes SGU
1. St. George’s University, Office of Enrolment Planning
2. United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) website as published in 2010 National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) Annual Report

Grenada – Campaign for a Healthier Lifestyle

Campaign supported by Grenada’s Kirani James – newly crowned 400m world champion

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The campaign for a healthier Grenada – spearheaded by ‘Sport for Health in the Caribbean,’ with the support of the Government of Grenada and the Grenada National Olympic Committee—will be given added impetus as a result of national research findings involving 500 Grenadians, on their motivation for leading a healthier lifestyle. This was announced in London by Dr. Calum Macpherson, Director of Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF)—the research institute at St. George’s University.

A major objective of the campaign is to confront the challenges of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. The announcement made at the conclusion of the United Nations NCD Summit in New York this past September, “will enable us to develop a national database and measure results on whether the campaign has made a lasting impact among different age and sex populations throughout Grenada. And, if not, what needs to be done.”

Dr. Macpherson pointed out that “a recent study, in collaboration with Grenada’s Ministry of Health and the Grenada Heart Project, has shown that 80 percent of Grenadian women over the age of 25 are classified as obese. We seek to galvanize Grenadians in the battle for a healthier lifestyle and pass on the lessons learned to other Caribbean countries.”

Funds for the campaign were raised at the WINDREF dinner at the House of Lords last November, hosted by WINDREF’s President, Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, and Baroness Howells of St Davids, the only Grenadian in the House of Lords.

At the dinner Lord Coe, Chairman of the London Olympic Games Organizing Committee, spoke of the “power of the Games to inspire change, particularly for young people.” The role model and first sporting ambassador for the campaign is Kirani James, Grenada’s first gold athletics winner at the recent World Athletics Championships.

With the formation of the Sport for Health Committee in Grenada, including former Governor General Sir Paul Scoon and Speaker of the House of Representatives George McGuire, the campaign was formally launched in Grenada in March. Sporting ambassadors were appointed in Grenada’s 22 secondary schools to support sporting activities in their schools and local communities. The most successful sporting ambassador will be invited to attend the Olympic Games in London, a major incentive for the newly appointed ‘ambassadors.’

“The research study will involve the sporting ambassadors in selecting suitable participants,” said Dr. Macpherson. “We will also work with three fitness centers, or boot camps, run by the police, and students in the School of Arts and Sciences at St. George’s University. The idea is that there should be a competitive element behind the data collection from the various sources – with participants regularly weighed and measured and the figures being released to Grenada’s national news media.”

The campaign is being supported by leading former Caribbean sportspeople including Olympic gold medalist Tessa Sanderson; former leading footballers Cyrille Regis and Garth Crooks; and Jason Roberts from Grenada, who plays for Blackburn Rovers.

St. George’s University Earns US Accreditation for Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Program

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The American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education (AVMA COE) announced its full accreditation of the St. George’s University Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program for seven years. This accreditation follows a self study by the School of Veterinary Medicine, and a site visit by a team of AVMA appointed reviewers in April of 2011.

According to the AVMA website, “accreditation by the AVMA COE represents the highest standard of achievement for veterinary medical education in the United States. Institutions that earn accreditation confirm their commitment to quality and continuous improvement through a rigorous and comprehensive peer review.” Furthermore, students graduating from an AVMA COE-accredited institution can be assured the education they receive meets a “competency threshold for entry into practice, including eligibility for professional licensure”.

Dr. Raymond F. Sis, Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine, led the accreditation efforts. Having joined St. George’s University in 2001 as a professor of Anatomy, and then being appointed Dean of the SVM in 2003, he has brought his knowledge and passion for veterinary medical education to his current role.

“Accreditation of the Veterinary Medicine program is a direct result of the hard work undertaken by our very dedicated faculty, administration, and staff members, “said Dr. Sis. “The AVMA site visit in April was the culmination of more than 10 years of dedicated veterinary education by faculty, administration, and staff that are second to none.”

The AVMA COE site visit team traveled to the St. George’s campus in April for a comprehensive review of the DVM program curriculum, physical facilities, equipment, clinical resources, and library and information resources as part of its assessment of the program’s readiness for accreditation. Admissions policies, faculty qualifications, and the number and quality of professional degree students in the DVM program were also assessed.

Citing the quality of St. George’s DVM program, Dr. Sis provided further comment on the accreditation process, saying, “Completion of our comprehensive self-study and the continuous improvements in curriculum, faculty and facilities helped our accreditation team effectively showcase our academic program to the site visit team. I am thrilled to have been a part of this rigorous process and happy to have our hard work validated through this accreditation.”

Graduates of SGU’s DVM program wishing to practice in North America will no longer be required to sit the examination given by the Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates or the PAVE examination, and will now be required to take only the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) for licensing, as they have graduated from an AVMA accredited program in veterinary medicine. The accreditation decision is retroactive to the date of the council’s site visit on April 21, so all students graduating after this date are considered graduates of an AVMA COE-accredited institution.

The 2010-2011 pass rate for students of our school on the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) was 96% (85/82) as compared to an 80% pass rate required by the AVMA Council on Education’s Outcomes Assessment standard.

Dr. Charles Modica, St. George’s University Chancellor, in conjunction with Dr. Sis and members of the SVM administration and faculty, announced news of the accreditation to current students at a jubilant SVM town hall meeting on campus. “Students who join our veterinary program with its international educational experiences will now benefit from belonging to an AVMA-accredited institution. We are proud of Dr. Sis and his faculty and staff.”

The date of the next site visit is 2018.

SGU Welcomes Fall 2011 School of Medicine Class in Grenada and the UK

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St. George’s University welcomed students to the School of Medicine Class of 2015 at its White Coat Ceremonies where 647 entering students in Grenada and 68 entering students at Northumbria University in the UK were cheered on by proud family members. Students were welcomed to the profession and to the University by faculty, staff, students and dignitaries. The students welcomed at Northumbria join SGU as part of the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program and will spend their first year of basic sciences at Northumbria University before joining their classmates in Grenada.

At both ceremonies the students donned white coats which symbolize their entry into the medical profession and their commitment to upholding the duties and trust associated with practicing medicine and medical training—a commitment they reaffirmed with the recitation of the Oath of Professional Commitment at the ceremony.

Delivering an inspiring keynote address at the Grenada ceremony, Iona Heath, MD, CBE, MRCP, PRCGP, spoke on courage and joy, and how both are significant aspects of practicing medicine. Sharing insightful anecdotes from her own professional history, Dr. Heath counseled incoming students on having the courage to come close enough to patients that they feel seen and heard, to trust patients’ accounts of their own experience, to doubt the known, to tolerate uncertainty, and to be an advocate for patients. She also listed the joy and privilege of relating to the whole of humanity, listening to accounts of amazing courage and endurance, being able to make a difference in the life of her patients, having colleagues and friends around the world, and the joy which comes from the sheer intensity of the profession. In closing she wished the students success and “the courage that I have sometimes lacked and the joy that I have found and more”.

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Andrew James Johnson, MB BCh, FRCP delivered the keynote address at the Northumbria ceremony where he drew a unique parallel between the medical profession and theatre. Using the example of Shakespeare to demonstrate the communication needs between doctor and patient, Mr. Johnson imparted wisdom to the incoming students on the importance of avoiding jargon and using words that can be easily understood by patients. He also stressed the importance of reading between the lines when discussing health care with patients, relaying on body language and demeanor to understand a patients’ deeper anxieties. In closing he noted: ‘The smile as the patient leaves is the medical equivalent of the cheer of the audience in a theatre…. Medicine is a mix of art and science – communication is the art that makes science worth it for all!”

St. George’s University welcomes the incoming School of Medicine class in Grenada and at Northumbria and congratulates them on their first step in this noble career.

St. George’s University Establishes Teaching Hospital in Grenada

St. George’s University and the Government of Grenada have signed an agreement which establishes a teaching hospital on the island. The project, which has been in development for some time, speaks to the 35-year relationship the University has with the Government.

“This agreement further cements St. George’s University’s commitment to help in the development of a quality health education program to the Caribbean for students from Commonwealth nations and from around the world,” says Charles R. Modica, St. George’s University Chancellor. “By adding to the elective and intern program already in place and establishing this full teaching program that operated by the University, we are able to provide a quality graduate and post graduate program in Grenada. Our students will be able to perform clinical rotations in Grenada, in addition to the clinical rotations available at many top affiliated hospital and clinical centers in the US and UK. Our students have the opportunity to experience yet one more system of healthcare delivery in a hospital setting while at the same time providing Grenada with an influx of much-needed healthcare practitioners to local healthcare facilities.”

The government too recognizes the significance of this agreement as demonstrated by a statement earlier this year when discussions were being held, Finance Minister Nazim Burke said “…the establishment of a teaching hospital in Grenada would help to raise the standard and quality of healthcare for citizens at home, citizens abroad desirous of returning home to retire, as well as our visitors.”

Undoubtedly, the development of a graduate and post graduate teaching program at the General Hospital is a significant investment by the University and will contribute to an improved standard and quality of healthcare available on the island. The University has, for over 35 years developed ane extensive scholarship program for the educational benefit of citizens of Grenada and other Commonwealth countries. The formation of the clinical teaching program will be of great benefit to the island and the region as well.

SGU Honors Nearly 800 New Medical Doctors

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On Saturday, June 11, 2011 it was with a sense of pride and accomplishment that nearly 800 medical students, drawn from 30 different countries, graduated as part of St. George’s University School of Medicine Commencement Ceremony at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center in New York City, NY. This year’s commencement ceremony was particularly special as it marked the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program (KBTGSP) charter class graduation. The 54 charter class students started the program in January 2007 and completed the first year of basic sciences at Northumbria University in Newcastle, UK.

Distinguished guest and Assistant Dean of the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program, Dr. David Holmes, BSc (Hons), PhD, CSci, FIBMS, was honored with St. George’s University Medal of Merit by the Chancellor Modica during the ceremony. The medal was presented in recognition of Dr. Holmes’ contribution and tireless efforts towards the collaboration between St. George’s and Northumbria University and the development of the KBTGSP.

In his introductory remarks, Provost Dr. Allen Pensick, PhD provided wise and encouraging words, “You will be stretched in many different directions through your career and you must rely on your core values to guide you.” Chancellor Charles R. Modica, JD followed Dr. Pensick by asking the graduates to stand up and applaud their families and friends in order to demonstrate their appreciation for all the support offered by the guests in attending the day’s event as well as supporting their dream to become a physician. He also reminded the graduating class of the importance of the commencement ceremony. “This moment celebrates the commitment you have made to medicine. Your dedication is commendable, and we are confident you can make a positive impact in your local communities and in a global context.”

Her Excellency Dr. Dessima Williams, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative of Grenada to the United Nations, also extended her congratulations to the School of Medicine Class of 2011, which included seven Grenadian graduates. She challenged them to make health care strong with their entry into the professional world. Additionally, she highlighted efforts by the United Nations to eradicate AIDS by 2020 through “zero new infections, zero stigma and zero Aids-related deaths”—a goal revealed at the United Nations Aids Summit held the same week.

The 44th School of Medicine Commencement Ceremony concluded upon closing remarks from the Dean of the School of Medicine Dean Stephen Weitzman, MD. Graduates, along with their families and friends, took the opportunity to mingle with peers, faculty, and administration during an hour-long reception that followed.

St. George’s University is extremely proud of its newest alumni who will now join the ranks of the University’s more than 9,000 medical graduates licensed in all 50 states and practicing in more than 45 countries around the world. With a 98 percent residency placement rate, the graduates will continue their professional development in highly competitive residencies in surgery, radiology, orthopedics, emergency medicine, etc.

St. George’s University Chancellor Modica Honored by Brooklyn Hospital

On Thursday, June 3, 2011, The Brooklyn Hospital Center (TBHC) honored St. George’s University Chancellor Charles R. Modica at the annual Brooklyn Hospital Foundation Founders Ball for his long-time collaboration with the hospital.

Chancellor Modica received the inaugural Partner in Health Award, which recognizes partnership with TBHC to provide outstanding care and service to the community. “He will set the standard for this award in the future,” said The Brooklyn Hospital Foundation Chairman J. Barclay Collins, II. “Many [St. George’s University] alumni enrich our Brooklyn Hospital community,” he continued, noting how the University’s students and alumni have contributed to the growth and progress of the hospital.

Chancellor Modica graciously accepted the award, and commended the hospital’s tireless efforts to bring quality health care to New York City. “Brooklyn Hospital has been a premier hospital, and you have no idea how you are enriching the lives of those students who are becoming doctors today,” he said. He specifically called attention to the opportunity TBHC provided alumna Portia Siwawa, SGUSOM ’05, a native of Botswana who completed her surgery residency at TBHC. “It thrilled me tonight to come here and receive a hug from Portia,” Chancellor Modica exclaimed, highlighting Siwawa’s gratitude for the chance to study medicine on an international level.

Current students Danielle Krol and Jessica Best—who recently completed clinical rotations at TBHC—were also present at the awards ceremony. They said they were privileged to celebrate the Chancellor’s acceptance of this esteemed award and praised the University’s collaboration with TBHC. “Chancellor Modica’s continuing commitment to enrich the medical community of Brooklyn is undoubtedly recognized to be among the best the hospital has seen, and the honorary award for his contributions he received on behalf of TBHC has proved this true,” Krol said. “His effective, skilled, and visionary leadership has created wonderful opportunities for students at The Brooklyn Hospital, which will continue to strengthen the University’s standards by creating a unique learning environment.”

This year’s Founders Ball celebrated the transformation of TBHC, the surrounding Brooklyn community, and those making change within the health care industry. Dr. Richard B. Becker, President and CEO of TBHC, noted the local community’s movement for better living, greener living, and improved health care in Brooklyn. “We are at the leading end of that transformation,” Dr. Becker stated. “We’re proud of our progress to date,” he continued, adding that TBHC looks to continuously expand its services to and care for Brooklyn’s growing and changing population.

Chancellor Modica was one of five honorees to be awarded for their contributions to TBHC’s growth and wellbeing. The evening’s other honorees included Jonathan M. Weld, of counsel at Shearman & Sterling and immediate past chairman of TBHC; Dr. Shafiqur M. Rahman, attending physician in TBHC’s Department of Internal Medicine, Infectious Diseases; Dr. Sumatilal C. Shah, senior attending physician in TBHC’s Department of Internal Medicine, Cardiology; and Rev. Dr. Herbert D. Daughtry, national presiding minister for the House of the Lord Churches and president of the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance.

Each year, the Founders Ball raises critical funds to advance the mission and vision of TBHC. “Proceeds fund the priorities of the hospital and raise the quality of care and quality of life of patients and caregivers,” Collins said. This year’s benefit raised more than $700,000, according Collins. Additional contributions were raised throughout the evening from a silent auction of sports, entertainment, and music memorabilia.

Established in 1845, TBHC was the first hospital Brooklyn. It is now a member of the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System, a network of more than 30 hospitals in the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut area. It has nearly 3,000 medical professionals and staff, and it treats more than 300,000 patients each year. The University began its partnership with TBHC in 1986 and offers core clinical rotations and residency placements, including specialty electives such as neurology, pulmonary medicine, and radiology. More than 2000 students and graduates have completed clinical and residency training at TBHC.

St. George’s University Partners with Global Health Organizations to Address Occupational Safety of Health Workers

St. George’s University has partnered with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Grenada’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to provide a workshop geared at addressing the concerns of occupational hazards to health care workers specifically in relation to needle stick injuries and exposure to blood borne pathogens. The workshop, which is in line with a growing global movement towards dealing with this very critical public health issue, aims to “prepare leaders in health care to provide training on occupational health and prevention of blood borne infections, implement and evaluate policy and intervention measures to protect health workers, and establish a regional surveillance network for occupational health.”

The three-day workshop which began on June 7, 2011 is being attended by 40 health care professionals with combined experience of more than 500 years. The attendees come from nine countries—including Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Dominica, St. Lucia, Belize, Nevis, Suriname and the British Virgin Islands—and various professions and foci within the health care sector, including physicians, Ministry of Health officials, professors, nurses, and other health care workers working in the areas of infection control, trauma / accident care, midwifery, and neonatology. The attendees will be responsible for conveying the knowledge and skills learned from the workshop to their respective organizations and countries.

The workshop is the brainchild of Dr. Omar Cinar Elci, Director of St. George’s University Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine (DPHPM). In his opening address he commented, “We need to take care of our working people. We rely on our health care workers for our health but often do not consider their safety.” He pointed out that health care workers were exposed to even more occupational hazards than agricultural, construction, or factory workers. Dr. George Mitchell, a Ministry of Health official and graduate of St. George’s Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, represented Grenada’s Minister of Health Senator Ann Peters who was out of the island. Dr. Mitchell stated, “We are ever conscious that a healthy, uninjured workforce is vital to our country’s well-being.” He urged participants to find ways to implement what they learned in the workshop.

Presenters at the workshop included Drs. Ernest Pate and Marie-Claude Lavoie representing PAHO; Drs. Ahmed Gomaa and Maria Lioce representing NIOSH/CDC; Drs. Gillian Benjamin and Francis E. Martin representing Grenada’s Ministry of Health; and Drs. Omar Cinar Elci and Praveen Durgampudi from St. George’s University DPHPM. Among topics to be covered at the workshop are the risk of occupational transmission of blood-borne pathogens, management of these risks, measures to be taken after exposure, how to conduct workplace assessment, and how to carry out a rapid assessment for blood-borne pathogens. Additionally, participants will have the opportunity to apply some of what they learnt at a hospital site visit on Wednesday, June 8. Participants are very excited about the workshop, as the sessions promise to be interesting, informative and interactive and believe it will certainly go a long way in addressing this long standing issue.

About St. George’s University
St. George’s University is a center of international education, in Grenada with graduates, students, and faculty from 140 countries, including 1,342 from Grenada and 476 from the Caribbean. St. George’s is affiliated with educational institutions worldwide, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Ireland. The University’s nearly 11,000 graduates include physicians, veterinarians, scientists, and public health and business professionals across the world. The University programs are accredited and approved by many governing authorities and repeatedly recognized as the best in the region.