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SGU Alumni Reminisce About Their Fondest Medical School Memories

8 min read / SGU Stories

 

In reviewing statistics about the St. George’s University (SGU) School of Medicine, you’ve likely learned that SGU has a longstanding reputation for educating skilled, well-respected physicians who go on to do remarkable things with their careers.

In fact, SGU has been the number one provider of doctors into first-year US residencies over the last 12 years. The numbers may be impressive, but statistics alone won’t give you an adequate picture of what to expect when attending medical school at SGU.

If you’re curious to learn more about the Caribbean medical school experience, join us as we take a look at what some SGU alumni have to say about their time in Grenada.

4 things alumni cherish about medical school at SGU

It’s safe to say that nothing can truly prepare you for medical school. The rigor and high-intensity environment can take some time to acclimate to. And while that’s still true with the Caribbean MD program experience, alumni will tell you that medical school at SGU is a journey unlike any other.

“Being an SGU student, you learn a lot about medicine, but also a lot about life,” notes 2015 graduate Dr. Leanne Baumgartner. “You learn about more than just the basic sciences. It’s a life-altering experience. I met the smartest people I’ll ever meet in Grenada, and I believe that the experience with them and on the island taught me more than I ever would have learned elsewhere.”

 

Among the many features of SGU that Dr. Baumgartner and other alumni highlight, the following four elements stood out as they recounted their fondest medical school memories:

1. The family-like community

At some medical schools, it can feel like you’re just one student in a sea of aspiring doctors. But that’s not the case when attending medical school at SGU. “The whole experience at SGU was terrific. It was such an interesting and family-friendly environment,” says 2017 graduate Dr. Sarah Ackah. “I came from a big family, so this is what I wanted, and all my classmates were great. SGU has a way of picking the best students.”

The peers you’ll be surrounded by can have a big impact on your medical school experience—but so will the environment. Dr. Philip Manners graduated from the SGU School of Medicine in 2011, and he still feels that the people and the campus had a hugely positive influence on his time as a medical student.

“Your classmates become your family. You forge close friendships by going through it together, and I don’t think you would ever develop those types of bonds and relationships in a US or UK medical school setting.”

“One major benefit of studying in Grenada is that medical school can become your whole world. You live and breathe SGU,” Dr. Manners explains. “Your classmates become your family. You forge close friendships by going through it together, and I don’t think you would ever develop those types of bonds and relationships in a US or UK medical school setting.”

The impact of the tight-knit SGU community doesn’t stop once you graduate. Recent graduate Dr. Natcha Rummaneethorn notes that one of the major benefits of SGU is its large alumni network. “If utilized appropriately and effectively, this will turn into a very useful tool in preparing for a residency application,” she says. “During my clinical rotations, I was extremely surprised at how many attendings I met who turned out to be SGU alumni. They were ready to help me and the other SGU students rotating with them.”

2. The island experience

The family-like nature of the SGU campus will help you feel at home in Grenada. But the true Caribbean medical school experience involves getting well-acquainted with all the advantages of island life. The island of Grenada contains 133 miles of some of the most varied terrain in the Caribbean—from mountains and rainforests to stunning mangroves and dwarf forests.

“I loved my time in Grenada,” recalls Dr. Nana Yaa Baffour-Awuah, 2015 graduate of SGU. “It was just what I was looking for in terms of the coursework, and the island itself was fantastic. It has great weather, beaches, and people from all over the world living and studying there.”

Dr. Paulina Buraczynski was excited about the prospect of studying to become a doctor in such an idyllic location. “I’m pretty adventurous and love to travel, so I had a great time exploring the island and surrounding islands,” she recounts. She reminisces about all of the weekend excursions to different parts of the island, including, snorkeling, sailing, hiking, and Fish Fridays in Gouyave.

“Grenada holds a very special place in my heart,” Dr. Buraczynski continues. “I even met my husband there and I hope to take my daughter there one day.”

3. The global perspective

Dr. Rosalind Ambrose attended the SGU School of Medicine in some of its earliest years, having graduated in 1983. Looking back, she still sees the ways the school offered her a broader perspective of medicine than other institutions she’s encountered.

“[It] gave me the chance to learn about different styles of medicine,” she says of studying in the US and Grenada. “There was a great amount of cultural exchange. I met people from all backgrounds. With today’s global landscape filled with the crossing of cultures, this experience was very important.”

“There was a great amount of cultural exchange. I met people from all backgrounds. With today’s global landscape filled with the crossing of cultures, this experience was very important.”

Studying in Grenada affords students certain experiences they simply wouldn’t get elsewhere. “Being on the island of Grenada, the location gave me numerous opportunities to have hands-on experience with local Grenadians,” Dr. Rummaneethorn explains. “These experiences allowed me to grow my clinical knowledge and skills as an aspiring physician.”

In addition to providing students with hands-on experience in Grenada, SGU offers several different international learning opportunities. 2012 graduate Dr. Jessica Best participated in a number of them, including a two-week elective in Thailand and a month spent treating patients in village and prison clinics in Malawi.

“The experience was extremely rewarding,” Dr. Best recounts. “It was great because of the care we provided and because we were able to share knowledge with base medical personnel. I was able to live and learn in all these wonderful places and form an opinion about what works and what doesn’t.”

Dr. Manners echoes this appreciation, claiming he wouldn’t trade his Caribbean medical school experience for anything. “We had the opportunity to experience a large variety of clinical settings in a range of geographic locations where we had different resources, different patient populations, and different ways of practicing medicine. It enabled me to become a very adaptable and open-minded physician,” he says.

4. The unparalleled student support

Another element alumni highlight about the SGU experience is how the school ensures its students feel fully supported throughout their medical school journeys. From the ample resources available on campus to the additional one-on-one time with faculty that’s afforded by small class sizes, student support is at the core of SGU’s mission.

“It’s one thing that really sets SGU apart from other institutions,” explains 2015 graduate Dr. Mondel George. “There are numerous avenues for helping students, from the Psychological Services Center to University Health Services, including the Department of Educational Services and faculty open office hours. As a student, if you’re ever in need, there is someone there to help you at SGU.”

“As a student, if you’re ever in need, there is someone there to help you at SGU.”

Currently serving as an associate professor for the SGU School of Medicine, Dr. Abdulla Al-Khan is also an alumnus, having graduated in 1995. He notes that SGU has always cultivated an environment of support for its students. “My class of medical students was relatively small, so we became close, and this created a great support system. All the SGU professors were outstanding, and they encouraged me to push myself and have belief in my abilities,” he says. “I received a fabulous education at SGU, and my desire to learn and succeed is still with me today.”

Start making your own medical school memories at SGU

If your ultimate goal is to open the door to a robust, international medical career, the St. George’s University School of Medicine can help you get there. In recounting their medical school memories, alumni have made it clear that SGU offers a well-rounded, multicultural medical school experience that will provide you with the skills you’ll need to become a top-of-the-line physician. You’ll also walk away with long-lasting relationships that can have a positive impact on your career.

“While nothing in life is easy, if you work hard and take opportunities as they appear, then there are no limits to what you can achieve,” Dr. Al-Khan advises, adding that SGU was the perfect partner to help him achieve his medical career goals.

If you’re ready to start your own SGU success story, take the next step by requesting information.

DATE

January 27, 2022

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