In Memoriam: Arnold P. Gold

St. George’s University School of Medicine held its annual Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) Induction Ceremony in New York City in June 2017. The newly inducted medical students were recognized for exemplary humanistic and altruistic efforts demonstrated throughout their medical education.

Dr. Arnold P. Gold encouraged all the aspiring physicians with whom he connected to strive to achieve the “gold standard of health care”—compassion, collaboration, and excellence in medicine—goals that St. George’s University has for its students as well.

The father of the White Coat Ceremony and ambassador for humanistic patient care, Dr. Gold passed away on January 23, 2018, at the age of 92. His presence will be sorely missed in the medical community, yet his values will continue to be preached around the world, including at SGU, where they are part of the fabric of the University’s mission and spirit.

“Dr. Arnold P. Gold holds a very special place in American medicine,” said Dr. John Cush, MD SGU ’81, Director of Clinical Rheumatology at Baylor Scott & White Health in Texas. “At a time when the science and technology of medicine was changing most, he put his efforts on reminding educators and trainees alike that humanism was as important as the science.”

“Dr. Gold was a true role model for any physician who practices medicine, and he and his wife, Sandra, are true embodiments for care, compassion, and kindness to the nth degree,” added Dr. Vishnu Rao, Dean of Students at St. George’s University, who grew fond of Dr. Gold and his family at the annual Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) meetings, calling him “the most respected of all individuals.”

The St. George’s University community is reminded of Dr. Gold’s influence at the bi-annual White Coat Ceremonies, which mark a first-term student’s official entry into the medical or veterinary medical profession. Dr. Gold ushered in the first-ever White Coat Ceremony in the United States in 1993 at Columbia University. It debuted at St. George’s University School of Medicine on the Grand Anse campus in August 1996, with Dr. Ben Carson, Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital—and future US presidential candidate—delivering the keynote speech. The School of Veterinary Medicine began holding White Coat Ceremonies for Term 1 students six years later.

“His efforts to introduce medical students to the guild of medicine with an honor of a ‘white coat ceremony’ will forever be remembered by thousands of physicians who will trace their beginnings back to the ritual and ceremony he created,” Dr. Cush said.

Dr. Gold’s contribution to SGU came full circle in January 2005 when both Arnold and Sandra Gold delivered the SOM White Coat Ceremony address at Patrick Adams Hall in True Blue. Dr. Cheryl Cox Macpherson, Professor and Chair of SGU’s Department of Bioethics, worked with the Golds to introduce the White Coat Ceremonies at SGU.

“Dr. Gold was always incredibly attentive and interactive with individuals, and he loved talking to students,” she said. “He was very accepting and had a way of making people relax and be themselves.”

Dr. Gold emitted this warmth during his own career as a world-renowned pediatric neurologist. He was the “quintessential clinician” according to Dr. Lee Goldman, Chief Executive at Columbia University, where Dr. Gold practiced and taught for more than 50 years.

His impact stretched far beyond the city limits however. In 1988, he co-founded the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that empowers medical students and doctors to sustain a human connection with their patients. Such care was the basis for launching the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS), which recognizes senior medical students for their humanistic and altruistic efforts during medical education.

In 2005, Dr. Cush worked with the foundation to establish a St. George’s University chapter of the GHHS. The first class of 13 nominees were recognized in 2006, and since then, several hundred SGU students have earned the distinction.

“The Arnold P. Gold Humanism Honor Society awards have been incorporated into most medical schools, and honors those medical students who devote themselves to serving patients, public health, and causes not usually required by the curriculum,” Dr. Cush said. “His loss is a grand opportunity to extol his contributions to medicine, such that they can be emulated by other mentors and those who benefitted from his influence.”

Dr. Gold’s compassion in medicine extended across a wide spectrum, including religion. While visiting Grenada in the mid 2000s, Dr. Gold and his wife welcomed an international panel of SGU students to a cultural competency symposium, at which each shared how their belief and faith systems apply to medicine.

“Promoting humanism in medicine is immensely important,” said Dr. Cox Macpherson. “As much as we are providing students with the knowledge and skills to be successful physicians, we are instilling the elements of compassion, respect, and empathy that are inextricably linked with health care.”

– Brett Mauser

St. George’s University Announces New Direct Pathway to Medical School for Students at the College of Saint Elizabeth

College of St. Elizabeth in Morristown, NJ

TRUE BLUE, Grenada (January 25)Today, St. George’s University launched a new combined degree program with the College of Saint Elizabeth in Morristown, NJ.

Qualified students will be able to receive simultaneous admission to the College of Saint Elizabeth and St. George’s University School of Medicine. If they maintain certain minimum academic standards as undergraduates, they’ll be eligible to continue on to SGU to pursue postgraduate medical degrees.

“We at St. George’s University and our friends at the College of Saint Elizabeth are committed to seeking out students who are passionate about medicine and committed to academic excellence.” St. George’s University President Dr. G. Richard Olds said. “We’re thrilled to offer these high-caliber students admission to our medical school at the beginning of their college careers.”

“We look forward to this new partnership with St. George’s and the possibilities that it brings for our students,” said College of Saint Elizabeth President Helen J. Streubert. “As a College with a long history of STEM education, this combined degree program builds on our strengths and gives our students the opportunity to seamlessly join a high-quality medical school.”

Students interested in the new program must declare their intention when they apply to the College of Saint Elizabeth. The two institutions will conduct interviews with qualified applicants to determine whether to offer admission to the combined degree program. Undergraduate students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.4 and achieve an MCAT score within five points of the average for students who enrolled at St. George’s the previous term to achieve full admission.

After students complete the agreed-upon premedical curriculum and meet other standard requirements for admission to SGU, they will be eligible to spend their first two years of medical school in Grenada. Students will complete the next two years of clinical training at hospitals in the United Kingdom or the United States. They will be encouraged to return to New Jersey for their clinical rotations and residencies.

The College of Saint Elizabeth joins St. George’s University’s 30-plus partners across 12 countries. It is SGU’s 19th institutional partner in the United States, and fourth in New Jersey.

“Our network of partnerships ensures that we’ll have a diverse array of students from all over the world,” Dr. Olds said. “We look forward to welcoming the College of Saint Elizabeth’s most talented graduates to our campus in Grenada—and helping them pursue their dreams of becoming doctors.”

St. George’s University Celebrates International Collaboration with Northumbria University

This spring, St. George’s University is concluding celebrations to honor 10 years of collaboration with Northumbria University, Newcastle, in the United Kingdom. The anniversary marks a decade since the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two institutions, which established the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program (KBTGSP)—named after the inspirational late-former Vice Chancellor of SGU. Commemorations of the longstanding relationship began in January 2017; the start of the 10th year.

The KBTGSP allows students on SGU’s four-year medical degree to complete their first year of the basic sciences component of their course at Northumbria University. This enables students to gain a valuable insight into cross-cultural medical practices, and experience of living and studying in an international setting. Since its inception a decade ago, more than 1,800 students have enrolled in the program, where they follow the same successful curriculum as offered to students in Grenada.

“The program has been exemplary in demonstrating that two universities based in different countries can cooperate in developing an academic program that produces true ‘global scholars,’” said Dr. David Holmes, Associate Dean of the KBTGSP. “The academic success of the KBTGSP students, and their consistently high praise of their experience on the program, and of living in Newcastle, is testimony to the efforts of members of both universities.”

The 10-year anniversary dinner was held on January 10 in Northumbria University’s Great Hall. A welcome address was given by Professor Peter Francis, Deputy Vice Chancellor at Northumbria University. A welcome speech was also given by Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of St. George’s University, and guests included Baroness Howells of St. Davids, President of the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) and the only Grenadian in the House of Lords.

“This anniversary marks a significant milestone in the relationship between Northumbria University and St. George’s University, and also coincides with our 25-year anniversary as a University,” said Professor Francis. “Northumbria has a global reputation for delivering academic excellence and the partnership with SGU is just one demonstration of that. For 10 years, students on the Global Scholars Program have enriched Northumbria’s rich academic community through their academic and extracurricular contributions, and we are delighted to have helped to develop doctors who are saving lives across the globe, thanks to this relationship. I look forward to the partnership continuing into the future.”

Speaking on the importance of the collaboration, Dr. Olds said, “There is no substitute for a well-rounded medical education in producing world-leading physicians, and gaining experience in international settings is invaluable. Our students are fortunate to have this opportunity available to them in their first year, and benefit significantly from their time at Northumbria. The KBTGSP is an ideal international program for medical students who wish devote at least a portion of their professional lives to the service of developing countries, underserved regions of the world, or international NGOs. Developing students with such ambition is a key aim of SGU”.

On January 11, the day after the anniversary dinner, the next intake of students were welcomed onto the KBTGSP in a traditional White Coat Ceremony. Having been ‘robed’ in their white coats, the students will make a professional commitment to the medical profession.

As part of the anniversary celebrations of the partnership between Northumbria University and SGU, alumni of the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program have been sharing their memories of their time in Newcastle. Joshua Ramjist, MD SGU ’11, a general surgery resident at Maimonides Medical Center in New York, joined the program in 2007. “The Global Scholars Program was hands down the best experience of my life,” he said. “I would do it again in a heartbeat. I was able to focus on my study skills and develop as a student.”

Jessica Best, MD SGU ’12, is now an emergency medicine physician in Austin, Texas, after completing her EM residency at University Medical Center Brackenridge—the very hospital where she was born. Dr. Best completed the first year of her basic sciences on the KBTGSP, and also spent time studying in Thailand as part of SGU’s two-week elective course. Commenting on her time at the University, she said “I was able to live and learn in all these wonderful places, and form an opinion on what works and what doesn’t. I’m happy to share my experience with prospective students.”

Behavioral Sciences Professor Honored for Epilepsy Diagnosis Research

Another example of St. George’s University’s increased emphasis and commitment on research, the University’s Dr. Karen Blackmon was recently selected by the International Neuropsychological Society (INS) to receive the 2018 Laird S. Cermak Award, a distinction that recognizes the best research in the area of memory or memory disorders.

“It’s very encouraging to see that the research efforts of faculty and students at St. George’s University are being recognized internationally,” said Dr. Blackmon, an Assistant Professor of Behavioral Sciences at SGU. “This award calls attention to an active and thriving research culture at SGU, and I am grateful to be a part of its continued advancement.”

A New York State licensed clinical neuropsychologist, Dr. Blackmon conducted this research along with her colleague, Dr. Thomas Thesen, an Associate Professor in the Department of Physiology, Neuroscience, and Behavioral Sciences at SGU, as well as Michelle Kruse, a third-year School of Medicine student currently on clinical rotations in New York.

Their work titled, “Temporal lobe gray-white blurring and Wada memory impairment in MRI-negative temporal lobe epilepsy,” utilized quantitative MRI technologies to characterize the neuroanatomical features of an epilepsy subtype that is challenging to diagnose and treat.

“Our research showed that subtle abnormalities at the cortical gray and white matter junction are associated with a distinct pattern of memory impairment, which could lead to improvements in diagnosis and surgical planning for people with this disorder,” added Dr. Blackmon. “We are hoping that our research demonstrates the value of combining MRI post-processing methods with neuropsychological assessment to increase precision in epilepsy diagnosis.”

The International Neuropsychological Society, founded in 1967, is a multi-disciplinary, non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing communication among the scientific disciplines which contribute to the understanding of brain-behavior relationships. INS holds two meetings per year that provide a venue for cognitive and clinical neuroscientists from around the world to share their research and increase their understanding of the driving forces behind cognition and behavior.

The award honors the contributions of Dr. Laird S. Cermak, the former Director of the Memory Disorders Research Center at Boston University and Editor of the journal Neuropsychology, who dedicated his career to studying cognitive impairments that result from brain damage.

– Ray-Donna Peters

New York Resident Awarded Second-Ever Louis Modica Memorial Scholarship

In 1976, Louis J. Modica helped lay the building blocks for an international medical school in Grenada. More than 40 years later, Owen Cole will pursue his dream of becoming a physician as the second-ever recipient of the Louis Modica Memorial Scholarship.

“Becoming a doctor is something I’ve wanted to do for my entire life, ever since I can remember,” Mr. Cole said. “It’s inspiring because Mr. Modica had this plan, and all these years later, I get to pursue my dream under his name.”

The full-tuition scholarship recipient grew up in Bay Shore, NY, in the same village that Mr. Modica, a real estate developer, helped revitalize in the 1960s. Mr. Cole graduated from nearby St. John the Baptist High School and also teaching religious education to sixth- and seventh-graders at St. Patrick’s Parish in town. A two-week mission trip to Chaclacayo, Peru, after his junior year in high school only strengthened Mr. Cole’s drive toward a career in medicine. There, he learned under Dr. Anthony Lazzara in the Hogar San Francisco de Asis, a facility that treats destitute and sick children and young adults.

In particular, he recalled a 14-year-old boy named Victor who was born with one leg and no arms—as a result of, it’s believed, a failed home abortion. Nevertheless, Victor grew to “do everything that you or I could do, all because of Dr. Tony.” More than 30 years ago, Dr. Lazzara left an academic position at Emory University in Georgia to treat underprivileged children in the developing world through the Villa La Paz Foundation.

“It was incredible to see how humble Dr. Tony was,” Mr. Cole said. “He’s given up his life to treat these kids that otherwise wouldn’t be treated.”

Mr. Cole went on to attend the University of Virginia, from which he graduated in 3½ years with a degree in environmental science. After completing his studies, he remained in Charlottesville to volunteer in UVA Medical Center’s intensive care unit and surgical department, in preparation for medical school.

Then came the call about becoming the second-ever Modica Scholarship recipient.

“I was blown away,” Mr. Cole said. “It’s an amazing opportunity. I can’t wait to start my medical career, and I’m really looking forward to living in such a unique environment.”

Mr. Cole will travel to Grenada in January to begin Term 1 at SGU. In addition to pursuing a career in pediatrics, he hopes to provide care for needy communities abroad through an organization such as Doctors Without Borders.

– Brett Mauser

New Zealand Anatomy Conference Examines Impact of “Stethoscope of the Future”

A foundation component of medical education for every clinician, anatomy has recently emerged in the practice of ultrasound technology. Together, they have been called “the stethoscope of the future,” not only in a clinical setting but in the classroom.

For nearly a decade, Dr. Marios Loukas, Dean of Basic Sciences at St. George’s University, has spearheaded its implementation at SGU. As a keynote speaker at the 2017 Australasian & New Zealand Association of Clinical Anatomists (ANZACA), held at the University of Auckland from December 4-6, Dr. Loukas outlined how and why ultrasound has become an integral part of the St. George’s University curriculum.

“We’ve invested a lot in ultrasound training and we’re really ahead of the curve,” Dr. Loukas said. “As more and more schools are teaching it, it’s important that we explain how we did it, why it’s proven beneficial, some problems that we’ve faced, and how we have sorted it out.”

Ultrasound has been a platform for Dr. Loukas at past conferences, including the American Association of Clinical Anatomists (AACA) conference held in Grenada in 2012, after which several attendees obtained hands-on experience utilized SGU’s expansive ultrasound technology during a one-day postgraduate course on the True Blue campus. Dr. Loukas was appointed President of the AACA in 2017.

In New Zealand, he was joined in his presentation by Dr. Anne Agur, a Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto and Past President of the AACA; and Dr. Brion Benninger, Executive Director of the Medical Anatomy Center at Western University of Health Sciences in Oregon.

“It was a nice balance,” said Dr. Loukas. “I was able to explain the dean perspective, including our objectives, milestones, and competencies, Dr. Agur provided the health allied sciences angle, and Dr. Benninger showed how ultrasound is integrated into his anatomy course.”

In addition, Dr. James Coey, Associate Course Director for Human Gross and Developmental Anatomy at Northumbria University, and Dr. Sara Sulaiman, Senior Lecturer in Anatomy at NU, were presented with an award for their research on how anatomy instruction across the globe, and what is the most effective way to teach the subject.

“It is imperative to drive our practice by evidence, communicate and collaborate with other medical educators to create an approach fit for today’s requirements and challenges,” Dr. Sulaiman said. “We are very thrilled having received this recognition from an esteemed organization such as ANZACA and we hope that our results and suggestions would drive further discussion and collaboration among anatomy educators.”

Earlier in 2017, Drs. Coey and Sulaiman were recognized for their work by the Anatomical Society of South Africa. In addition, second-year SGU student Jenna Kroeker was recognized by the best clinical anatomy poster presentation at the American Association of Clinical Anatomy annual meeting.

– Brett Mauser

Grenada Named “Destination of the Year” by Caribbean Journal

The sun rises over Grenada’s capital city of St. George’s.

Caribbean Journal has named Grenada as its 2017 Caribbean Destination of the Year, calling the Spice Isle “one of the region’s hottest places to visit.”

The Journal credited Grenada’s booming hotel development and a certain “x-factor” for earning its top billing in 2017. Visit caribbeanjournal.com to read more about the distinction and other travel award selections.

It is only the latest recognition for the island. In 2012, the Spice Isle took home two of Scuba Diving Magazine Reader’s Choice awards, finishing first in the Caribbean/Atlantic region in the “Advanced Diving” and “Wreck Diving” categories. A year later, National Geographic Traveler listed Grenada as one of its 20 “must-see places” to visit, calling its capital, St. George’s, “one of the prettiest towns in the Caribbean.”

Since 2008, Grenada has warmly welcomed thousands of visitors for St. George’s University bi-annual Family Weekend festivities, during which students’ families and friends get an insider’s look into life as an SGU student, learning about all that the campus and island have to offer.

Mini-Med School Plants Seeds for Grenada’s Future Physicians

Medical students can often point to the moment when their interest in medicine was sparked. By hosting a mini-medical school on general wellness and sickle cell disease for students from Westmorland Secondary School, the St. George’s University Chapter of the Student National Medical Association hoped to plant that seed in their minds and hearts as well.

During the visit, WSS students explored the field of medicine with interactive healthcare lessons, including learning how to take a pulse, identifying signs of anemia, and listening to a heartbeat.

“Children love this kind of hands-on approach to learning,” said Mrs. Meredith Swan-Sampson, Head of the Science Department at Westmorland Secondary School. “The mini-med school generated more interest in the medical field within the students by providing insight into the profession. Our students learned more about what it’s like becoming a doctor and all that it entails from a student perspective.”

In addition to a presentation on sickle cell disease by the members of SGU’s Internal Medicine Club, the students also learned about the components of the blood, conducted physical examinations, and received a lesson on how to perform CPR. At the end of the day, the visiting students took part in a mini-graduation ceremony, receiving certificates of participation and the added treat of being allowed to take photos in the white coats of the SNMA members.

“While in Grenada, we wanted to find more ways to interact with the youth and help encourage them to become doctors as well,” said Danae Brierre, SNMA President. “The purpose of SNMA-SGU Chapter is not only to promote medicine in the underserved communities but also to help influence the students of our host country through our outreach and education programs like the mini-med school. We’re here in Grenada becoming doctors and we want to show them that as Grenadians they too can become doctors here at SGU.”

With the mission of diversifying the face of medicine, SNMA chapters based at allopathic and osteopathic medical schools in the US are designed to serve the health needs of underserved communities and communities of color. Additionally, SNMA is dedicated both to ensuring that medical education and services are culturally sensitive to the needs of diverse populations and to increasing the number of African-American, Latino, and other students of color entering and completing medical school.

– Ray-Donna Peters

St. George’s University Strikes Partnership with Trent University to Provide Direct Entry to Medical and Veterinary School

Representatives from St. George’s University and Trent University announce the institutions’ new academic partnership. From left to right, Sasha Trivett, Dr. James Shipley, Sandra Banner, Charles Furey, Nona Robinson, and Dr. David Ellis.

Today, St. George’s University announced a new partnership with Peterborough, Ontario-based Trent University to provide qualified Trent undergraduates with direct admission to its Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine.

The two universities commemorated the partnership at a signing ceremony on Trent’s campus. Canadian consultants Sandra Banner and Charles Furey were on hand to represent St. George’s.

“This partnership offers passionate and engaged Trent students a direct pathway to a top-notch post-graduate education in medicine or veterinary medicine,” St. George’s University President Dr. G. Richard Olds said. “We’re excited to welcome aspiring doctors and veterinarians from Trent to St. George’s.”

To qualify, Trent University students must complete the Medical Professional Stream, a four-year program designed to guide students into careers in medicine and public health.

St. George’s medical students may spend their first two years studying in Grenada, or choose to complete their first year at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom as part of the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program before returning to Grenada for their second year. During the third and fourth years, students will complete clinical rotations in the United States, United Kingdom, or Canada. In recent years, SGU students have completed more than 300 electives in Canadian hospitals.

Veterinary students spend their first three years studying in Grenada. They then complete their final year at one of the many veterinary schools throughout the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Ireland affiliated with SGU. After sitting the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam, students can begin practicing in the United States or Canada.

St. George’s new partnership with Trent is one of over 30 it maintains with institutes of higher learning in 12 different countries. This will be the fifth partnership for St. George’s with a Canadian institution.

“St. George’s offers a globally focused education, and our partnerships with universities like Trent support that mission,” Dr. Olds said. “We look forward to helping Trent graduates realize their dreams of becoming doctors and veterinarians.”

United Arab Emirates Ministry of Education Recognizes SGU MD Degree Program

The Education Ministry of the United Arab Emirates has formally recognized the MD degree of St George’s University, the leading international medical school in the Caribbean island of Grenada. The move confirms that St George’s University meets all of the standards required by the Education Ministry, and paves the way for medical students from the UAE to study in Grenada and return home to practice medicine.

Commenting on the development, Dr G. Richard Olds, President of St George’s University said, “These provisions make way for St. George’s and The United Arab Emirates to develop a valuable partnership, providing an additional pathway for students from the UAE who want to pursue a career in healthcare. We look forward to welcoming students from the UAE to our campus.”

St. George’s University School of Medicine is one of the largest in the world, drawing students and faculty from 140 countries. The University has graduated over 18,000 students, including physicians, veterinarians, scientists and public health professionals. It is affiliated with education institutions worldwide, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Ireland. Students on the MD program will be able to take advantage of these institutional links, resulting in qualified doctors with a truly global medical education.

Key to the university’s success has been developing enthusiasm in students to practice medicine in their home countries, often in areas where physician numbers are low. Approximately 1% of all practicing doctors in the USA are graduates of St George’s University, with that figure rising to around 15% of the physician population in Trinidad and Tobago, and 20% in Botswana.