St. George’s University and Botswana Demonstrate Commitment to Reducing the Medical Brain Drain

Medical Doctors, Doctors of Veterinary Medicine and Public Health Graduates Celebrated at Gaborone Ceremony

Thirty-five Batswana graduates from St George’s University, the centre of international education on the Caribbean island of Grenada, will celebrate their achievement at the commencement ceremony on Saturday, 19 November at the Botswana TraveLodge in the country’s capital city.

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This is the second time that such a graduation ceremony has been held outside the United States in the 40 year history of St George’s University. The first occasion was in 2012, also in Gaborone. The Batswana students have graduated from St George’s University schools of medicine, veterinary medicine, and the graduate studies programme.

“We are very pleased to be honouring the hard work of these graduates and now expect them to make a major contribution to medical and other professional services in their own country”, commented Dr G Richard Olds, the President and Chief Executive Officer of St George’s University.

“We have had a long and successful relationship with the University of Botswana’s medical school and with the Ministries of Education and Health. With four doctors for every 10,000 people in Botswana, it is vital that the medical doctor graduates in particular help to redress the brain drain which has resulted in 800 Batswana doctors working overseas or outside their own country”.

Dr Olds pointed out that Botswana had graduated more MD students through St George’s University than any African country, apart from Nigeria. “Botswana and St George’s University have produced 97 MD graduates, with 22 students still working for their degrees at our university”, he added. “We believe that Botswana has the potential to become a major medical hub for the region”.

The commencement ceremony held later this month will celebrate the entrance of the Batswana graduands into the country’s workforce and honour St George’s University’s Batswana alumni who are already working towards better health care delivery in Botswana. It will also acknowledge the strong relationship between St George’s University and the government, partner institutions and the people of Botswana.

Published on 11/18/16

St. George’s University’s WHO Collaborating Center for Environmental And Occupational Health Re-Designated for Additional Four Years

The World Health Organization has re-designated St. George’s University Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine (DPHPM) as a Collaborating Center on Environmental and Occupational Health through 2020.

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Collaborating centers implement activities in support of WHO’s programs, and are beneficial to both WHO and regional countries; the WHO gains access to top centers worldwide and receives the institution’s support in implementing its global health initiatives. In return, the collaborating centers receive visibility and recognition by national and international authorities. Additionally, the WHO affiliation helps collaborating centers develop partnerships with other collaborating centers, which can help generate resources from funding partners.

This center is directed by Dr. Martin Forde, DPHPM Chair and Track Director for the MPH in Environmental and Occupational Health, as well as DPHPM Demonstrator Odran Nigel Edwards. The Center works in concert with the Grenada Ministry of Health and the Pan American Health Organization’s Caribbean Program Coordinator office in Barbados.

“This prestigious designation will allow us to carry out several key research projects under the auspice of the PAHO/WHO name which, in turn, will further enhance our ability to attract additional funding and research opportunities,” Dr. Forde said. “Over the next four years, we look forward to strengthening and expanding the utility of our Collaborating Center so that it can redound to the benefit of Grenada and other SIDS in the Caribbean region.”

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The first of its kind in the Caribbean, the WHO CC at St. George’s University was established in August 2012. It remains committed to contributing to WHO’s strategic program in a number of ways, including: to assess and manage occupational safety and health hazards; to collaborate with WHO in developing evidence-based research on emerging environmental and occupational health issues, including climate change; to provide, develop and disseminate curricula, training materials and training for environmental and occupational health capacity building in the Caribbean region; and to contribute towards the implementation of the Global Plan of Action on Workers’ Health and collaborate with other collaborating centers to achieve defined outcomes.

In addition to housing this WHO collaborating center, the DPHPM also houses a Regional Collaborating Center for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Recently, the University welcomed 10 regional conservation leaders to True Blue for a “Caribbean Non-State Actor Dialogue.” Under the guidance of SGU professor Hugh Sealy, lead negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States and co-facilitator of international discussions of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, the team discussed how to interpret and operationalize elements contained in the COP21 deal in order to assist countries’ efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and limit temperature increase.

Published on 8/18/16

CARPHA/NIH Grant Enables Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Research Across Region

St. George’s University Public Health Professors to Lead Research on Four Caribbean Islands

A $50,000 grant through the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will allow two St. George’s University professors to research breast and cervical cancer screening and why, in some cases, women in the region are choosing not to have them done.

SGUSOM students volunteer at a cervical cancer screening clinic on January 23, 2016.

SGUSOM students volunteer at a cervical cancer screening clinic on January 23, 2016.

Dr. Kamilah Thomas-Purcell, Assistant Professor in Master of Public Health Program at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) College of Osteopathic Medicine and Adjunct Professor at SGU, will serve as the study’s principal investigator, and work alongside Co-Investigators Dr. Christine Richards, Assistant Professor in SGU’s Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, and Mrs. Marva Primus-Joseph, RN, MPH, a Clinical Instructor at TA Marryshow Community College in Grenada.

“Cervical cancer is very preventable,” Dr. Thomas-Purcell said. “Something can be done about it, and it’s important to understand why women do not participate in preventative screening. Once we understand their perceptions within their social context we can develop relevant messages that educate and address barriers to screening.

In 2014, the team received a small grant and conducted a pilot study on the topic in Grenada. The CARPHA/NIH grant will allow them to expand their study to St. Vincent’s and the Grenadines, St. Lucia and Dominica, as well as expand their research in Grenada. For the pilot study, they conducted focus groups with 47 Grenadian women, with representatives from all seven of the island’s parishes. The group submitted a manuscript of the findings for publication.

“In Grenada, we found that many of barriers to breast cancer screening was related to the cost of mammography and health literacy was also an issue,” said Dr. Thomas-Purcell. “Many women didn’t quite understand that the Pap test detects cervical cancer in its early stage. Some of the barriers were cultural. Some women thought that women who are promiscuous get cervical cancer and they didn’t want to be associated with that. Also, women want to learn about cancer in group sessions. They want to be educated together, ask questions face-to-face and have that personal interaction.”

Funds from the larger grant will allow Dr. Thomas-Purcell’s team to hire and educate liaisons in each country, to purchase supplies, and to offer a token of appreciation to study participants. Dr. Thomas-Purcell hopes to conduct focus group discussions with at least 30 women in each country and interview oncology unit personnel to determine what types of prevention and treatment services are available. The team plans to commence the two-year study in January, beginning with research methods training of the liaisons, study participant recruitment and the scheduling of focus group sessions.

“We are delighted to have received one of the five NCI grants, which is a direct result of an application resulting from the grant writing workshop we hosted for NCI last year,” said Dr. Calum Macpherson, Dean of Research. “The work to be done will go a long way to helping understand breast and cervical cancers in the region, and we wish the investigators from the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine all the very best of luck with their study.”

In addition to her professorships, Dr. Thomas-Purcell is the Director of Interprofessional Primary Care Education within the Office of Research and Innovation at NSU.  She has also conducted research with the United Nations Population Fund, the American Foundation of AIDS Research (amFAR), and Moffitt Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Richards has served on SGU’s faculty since 2003. She holds a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Community Health Education and Promotion from Walden University.

Published on 2/4/16

Graduate Studies Program Renamed to School of Graduate Studies

The Graduate Studies Program at St. George’s University has reverted back to its original name – the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) – in response to the growth of the program which now offers more than 30 distinct graduate programs. Although the vision, structure, and administration of the school will remain the same, explained Dr. Calum Macpherson, Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, the proposed value attributed to the name change is expected to be most beneficial to the University’s students and alumni.

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“We have recognized the growth of graduate studies research at SGU since 1994, and it has necessitated the reconsideration of its status as a program, prompting its reestablishment as the School of Graduate Studies.” said Dr. Macpherson. “It will hopefully have a positive impact on existing students in the program and on future recruits. Also a ‘School’ rather than a ‘Program’ of Graduate Studies will enhance the academic profile of SGU locally, regionally, and internationally.”

St. George’s University established the School of Graduate Studies in 1994 but changed its name to the Graduate Studies Program (GSP) six years into its existence. More than two decades since it welcomed its first class of students, the program has graduated more than 1,100 students. It now offers a wide range of degree options, including a Doctor of Philosophy, Master of Science, Master of Public Health, Master of Business Administration, Master of International Business, and Master of Arts. In addition, students can earn dual degrees such as the MD/MPH, DVM/MPH, MD/MSc and DVM/MBA in the Schools of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, and Arts and Sciences. It continues to expand, with a Master of Education degree program debuting in 2016.

The graduation ceremony for School of Graduate Studies is held in conjunction with SAS in May of each year at the True Blue Campus in Grenada. The SGS aims to achieve and sustain excellence in every area of its graduate programs, courses, research and scholarly activities, evolving its reputation as a world-class program, and enriching international, national, and regional communities through the outcomes of its programs and the skills of its graduates.

Recently, the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) re-accredited SGU’s Master of Public Health program through 2022. Established in 1999, the MPH track became fully accredited by the CEPH in July 2010, making it the only accredited program in the region and only one of five such programs accredited by the CEPH outside of the US.

CEPH Re-Accredits St. George’s University’s Master of Public Health Program Through 2022

Once again, SGU’s Master of Public Health program received accreditation by The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), the independent agency recognized by the US Department of Education to accredit public health schools and programs. This accreditation period is for an additional seven years, affirming the University’s leadership position in the region through the year 2022.

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Established in 1999, SGU’s Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine (DPHPM) has issued more than 700 Master of Public Health degrees to its students, both independently and through the MD/MPH or DVM/MPH dual degree programs, which combine to exemplify SGU’s commitment to a global One Health, One Medicine initiative.

“We applaud the efforts of all of the members and partners of the DPHPM for providing a tremendous educational opportunity for our students,” said Chancellor Charles R. Modica.

“The Council on Education for Public Health holds its accredited institutions to the highest principles and values, and that our public health program has maintained their high standards since we were last accredited is a testament to the vision and leadership of Dr. Satesh Bidaisee, and the faculty and staff of DPHPM.”

“The DPHPM has achieved much during its short existence, and we look forward to its continued service to the region in the coming years” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, SGU’s new President and CEO. “The University’s programs aim to help to improve the quality of life in many parts of the world and add to the global health initiatives so important in today’s shrinking world.”

According to Dr. Satesh Bidaisee, Interim Chair of DPHPM, CEPH accreditation will encourage greater scholarly outcomes for faculty and staff through new partnerships for collaborative research and service activities. Accreditation allows alumni of the program to obtain Board Certification in Public Health (CPH), and for students, an MPH from a CEPH-accredited program strengthens their credentials when applying for medical residency programs.

“The MPH program is a partnership with the various schools and programs at SGU through joint academic degrees, research, and service collaborations among all faculty and students, and public health work with local, regional, and international stakeholders,” added Dr. Bidaisee,. “The reaccreditation by CEPH is a testimony of the strength of our partnerships and significant contributions by all stakeholders that allows the program at SGU to serve as a center of excellence in global health.”

“Re-accreditation by the CEPH is the verification of the excellence of the MPH degree offered by SGU,” said Dr. Calum Macpherson, Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. “Re-accreditation has been obtained through the combined inputs of the departmental faculty, public health students, and numerous collaborators at SGU, locally, regionally and internationally. It assures our numerous partners around the world of the high standards we uphold in our teaching, service and research activities: the ultimate goal of which is to improve the quality of public health”.

CEPH re-accreditation is only the latest distinction for the DPHPM, which was named a World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Environmental and Occupational Health, the first of its kind in the Caribbean, in 2012. In addition, the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) and the DPHPM were selected by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as a Regional Collaborating Centre for the Caribbean in 2013. The DPHPM is also the only MPH program in the Caribbean that can confer distinguished public health workers and outstanding MPH graduates with the induction into the Delta Omega honor society, the oldest public health honor society in the world.

The MPH program was initially accredited by the CEPH for a five-year term beginning in 2010. Council officials visited the True Blue campus in April 2015 to conduct the official re-accreditation site visit which assessed all aspects of the program and compared the on site experience to the self study that had been submitted a few months previously. The site-visit team assessed the quality of education, facilities, and experience of the faculty and students at SGU. At its October meeting, the CEPH Board of Councilors acted to accredit the MPH program at SGU for an additional seven years, the maximum term for re-accreditation.

SAS and GSP Classes Implored to Seize the Moment at Graduation Ceremony

St. George’s University Graduates More Than 250 Students at Grenada Graduation

At the St. George’s University School of Arts Sciences and Graduate Studies Program commencement held at Patrick Adams Hall on May 16, the message to its more than 250 graduates was clear – the present, at all times, is the most important time in their lives because it is always a chance for them to define their role in the world.

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To emphasize her point, Gillian M.S. Bristol, former Ambassador of Grenada to the US, Mexico and the Organization of American States, and Keynote Speaker for the evening, cited author Leo Tolstoy’s novel “What Men Live by and Other Tales,” stating, “There is only one time that is important — now.” She explained that Tolstoy that the present is more significant than any other time, with the menu of possibilities and opportunities practically limitless.

“Now is when we choose, when we decide what we’re going to do, when we opt for one or another course of action,” Ambassador Bristol said. “Today I see before me a powerful group of accomplished dreamers for you hold in your hand not merely a certificate of scholarship, erudition, and expertise. You are geniuses who hold in this moment the single most important tool to carve your destiny: the power of now. So as you step out into the somewhat misty future, remember that each one of you is the designer and owner of all your future nows. You have that power.”

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In the School of Arts and Sciences, more than 150 undergraduate degrees were conferred a Bachelors of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BSc). These students represented 16 countries, with Grenadian students making up the majority of the graduates.

In her valedictory address, Donna Walker, BSc SGU ‘15, stated, “We bid farewell to a school which has perhaps been the most important influence in our lives thus far.” She went on to say that, although leaving SGU is bittersweet, the milestone was a victory in itself in that, in the truest sense, she and her classmates had all learned to think beyond.

Degrees were also conferred on over 100 students from the Graduate Studies Program, representing 15 countries across the globe. Fifty-four students received a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree, 32 obtained a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in Multi-Sector Health Management, 13 students earned an MBA in International Business, and two received a Master of Science Degree (MSc).

Born and raised in Monrovia, Liberia, Samfee Doe, MPH SGU ‘15, describes herself and her fellow graduates as healers who are prepared to address any number of public health issues, including in their home countries.

“The day when we have the opportunity to go out there and start making meaningful contributions to society as we know it has finally come,” said the 2015 class speaker. “The question is ‘are you prepared for the task ahead?’ Our dreams have expanded. We’ve gone beyond the boundaries of our countries just by being here at SGU. Let us go out into the world and leave our footprints.”

“In addition to the traditional commencement ceremonies, SOM graduates and, for the first time, a DVM graduate from Grenada walked the stage at the SAS/GSP graduation, allowing family and friends to celebrate the moment.” The rest of the SOM’s and SVM’s class of 2015 will graduate next month at Lincoln Center in New York City.

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St. George’s University Hosts Highly Successful Public Health For-Credit MOOC

This fall, SGU’s groundbreaking One Health One Medicine massive open online course (MOOC) introduced the concept to more than 600 students from around the world. In addition to boasting a high retention rate for MOOCs—more than half of enrollees participated in the discussion forum—students were eligible to take a final exam to earn academic credit for the first time.

The eight-week course highlighted One Health One Medicine in a variety of topics, including emerging infectious diseases, zoonotic diseases, food safety, environmental health, and international health. Among those attending were such high-ranking health officials from around the world, several doctors, professors, and assistant professors, as well as SGU students and community members.

“A MOOC by nature is designed to make available educational opportunities to the large number of students – and with the large number of people in the world interested in the synergies between medicine, veterinary medicine, and public health, this MOOC addresses a direct need,” said course leader Satesh Bidaisee, Associate Professor and Deputy Chair of SGU’s Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine. “SGU’s One Health One Medicine course integrates medicine, veterinary medicine, and public health for students from around the world to identify and apply its concepts.”

SGU added a new dimension to this fall’s course—students’ ability to earn academic credit. Twenty-nine students took a final exam. Those who successfully passed the exam earned a certificate of recognition and can petition to receive credit.

news bidaisee satesh2Jonathan Modica of Nutmeg Education, and John Swope of Curricu.me, which SGU partnered with to help develop the course, were extremely pleased with the course’s retention rate, a figure that Mr. Swope indicated is five times higher than the average MOOC. In addition to employing several novel techniques that are fundamental to Curricu.me, Mr. Modica felt that consistent feedback to the students and ample virtual office hours, an improvement on the design of most online courses, was key to SGU’s success.

The course’s seven sections,included case studies, discussion topics, and assignments. The online SGUx platform was successfully built to deliver the course to an international community.
“The online platform was user-friendly for both the faculty and students, and a diverse educational experience was had by all that participated,” Dr. Bidaisee said. “As a faculty member, I was able apply a variety of educational tools to share content in an online setting. The use of recorded lectures, virtual live online sessions, discussion blogs, case studies, student seminar presentations, as well as quantitative and qualitative assessment strategies provided a full spectrum of learning and evaluation opportunities.”

The MOOC is one step in SGU’s creation and launch of an online Master of Public Health in Global Health; the initial registration rate and extremely high retention rate is a strong indicator of the demand for such an online program.

Public Health in Rural Communities: Keynote Address in Thailand

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Dr. Omur Cinar Elci, Professor and Chair of St. George’s University’s Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine (DPHPM), delivered a keynote address at the annual conference of The Network: Towards Unity for Health (TUFH) in November of in Ayutthaya, Thailand. Dr. Elci and other presenters spoke to the theme “Rural & Community-Based Health Care: Opportunities and Challenges for the 21st Century.”

Using the example of successful DPHPM projects like the Grenada nutmeg project and presenting the model of public health education implemented at SGU, Dr. Elci addressed a multinational audience on transforming the future through public health training.

“The model of public health implemented at SGU is not a difficult one,” he said. “It is student-oriented and created in close collaboration with the community we serve so that we can prioritize the community’s immediate public health needs. Attempts to use a cookie-cutter approach to implement projects from the developed to the developing world are often doomed to failure.”

Dr. Elci, who was recently appointed to the board of directors for Global Health through Education, Training and Service (GHETS), has 26 years of public health, epidemiology, and occupational health field experience and over 15 years of research and teaching experience, including funding from National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Under his leadership, the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine continues to deliver successful programs that enhance public health in Grenada and the wider Caribbean region.

A non-governmental organization, The Network: TUFH is a global network of individuals, institutions and organizations committed to improving the health of the people and their communities. It has played an important role in fostering community-oriented innovations leading to curriculum reforms in education institutions around the globe.

St. George’s University MPH Students and Alumni Achieve Impressive Pass Rate on Spring NBPHE Exam at SGU

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St. George’s University students and alumni of the Master of Public Health program achieved a 90 percent pass rate on the spring National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE) exam, allowing them to become a Certified in Public Health (CPH) professional. Including four previous alumni who had sat and passed the NBPHE exam, SGU students and alumni have demonstrated an impressive 92 percent success rate. After passing the exam, CPH professionals must earn 50 CPH recertification credits every two years to maintain their status.

“The CPH credential enhances the professional standing and recognition of individuals who gain the certification,” said Dr. Omur Cinar Elci, professor and chair of the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine (DPHPM). “In addition, the CPH credential commits its holders to a career of continuous professional development and recertification providing competency assurance in their public health practice.”

St. George’s University had been appointed as an official test location in February 2013 and the spring exam marked the first time that the exam was given on the campus.

SGU has increasingly been at the forefront of addressing public health issues both locally and regionally. The University’s MPH program attained accreditation from the Council for Education in Public Health (CEPH) in 2010, the fourth program outside North America to receive the distinction. In 2012, the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine was also named a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center for Environmental and Occupational Health, making it the first collaborating center of its kind in the region.

“As chair, it has been a privilege leading the DPHPM team of dedicated professionals through this significant period of development for the benefit of the communities that we serve,” Dr. Elci said. “The exceptional success of our students and alumni in the recent NBPHE exams is indeed the latest testimony to the DPHPM towards achieving its vision of serving as a regional and international center for excellence in education, research, service, and scholarly activities.”

A Celebration of Excellence at SGU’s SAS/GSP 2012 Graduation Ceremony

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More than 300 students took to the stage in celebration of their educational success on Saturday, May 12, at the annual Commencement Ceremony for St. George’s University School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) and Graduate Studies Program (GSP) at Patrick Adams Hall.

Esteemed guests included the Speaker of the House of Representatives and Keynote Speaker, Honorable George McGuire, and Chair of the Conference of Churches in Grenada, the venerable Archdeacon Christian Glasgow.

In his address to the excited graduates, keynote speaker, Honorable George McGuire, spoke of the international education offered at St. George’s University, and the foundation it provides for a successful career. He stated, “This University has been good to you in many ways. It has prepared you well for lifelong learning, taught you to think clearly, and to be open to new ideas. Therefore you are all prepared for the world of work.”

The speaker of the house admonished the graduating class to never underestimate their strengths, and to be the beneficiaries of change, and not the victims. He encouraged the students stating, “Whatever difficulties lie ahead and whatever constraints you may have to face, nothing should keep you from aspiring to reach the top, and nothing should stop you from shining in the presence of others.”

In exhorting the 2012 graduating class he states, “What should inspire you most as young graduates is a spirit of adventure which should feed your passionate and insatiable curiosity.” On a final note, the students were encouraged to treasure their memories of St. George’s University, and challenged to take the ‘high road’, and aim high.

As part of the ceremony, Honorable George McGuire received St. George’s University’s Distinguished Service Award in acknowledgement of his longstanding support and contribution to the development of the University, and in recognition of his outstanding service to its students and mission.

In the School of Arts and Sciences, more than two hundred undergraduate degrees were conferred including Bachelor of Arts (BA), of Education (BEd), of Science (BS), and of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees.

These students represented 16 countries; Grenadian students made up the majority of the graduates. An additional 42 students walked through the ceremony in anticipation of the receipt of their degree in the next few months.

Addressing the students as class valedictorian for the School of Arts and Sciences was Nerissa Baptiste from St. Andrew, Grenada. The BS graduate began her address by stating, “I don’t think that graduating today means we rule the world. I do think, however, that today’s graduation is the first step towards our world domination, and St. George’s University has provided us with the keys to do so.” Ms. Baptiste stated that “In order to rule the world, a person must be imaginative, recognize his or her potential and have ambition to realize it. Our graduation ceremony today is a testimony of this… On this our graduation day we proved that we are capable of achieving success. We came, we saw, and we conquered.”

The second half of the commencement ceremony was dedicated to St. George’s University’s graduate students. In the Graduate Studies Program, 69 students received a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree, 18 students received a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in International Business, 12 received an MBA in Multi-Sector Health Management, and six received a Master of Science Degree (MSc). The students receiving graduate degrees represented nineteen countries.

Apollo Knights, who is from St. Vincent, represented the graduate students as Class Speaker. The MBA (IB) graduate encouraged his colleagues to be leaders. He stated, “Leaders are persons who see the need for change and have the knowledge and desire to implement change for the betterment of society.” The students were therefore challenged to become lifelong learners, and to continue seeking new knowledge. He said, “As leaders, I believe we have the most humbling duty, which is to serve others, irrespective of our jobs.” Mr. Knights left the 2012 graduating class with the quote, “Knowledge has to be improved, challenged and increased constantly or it vanishes” – Peter Drucker.

St. George’s University is proud of all its graduating students and confident that this graduating class will positively impact the world in each respective field.