“Why do my arms fold this way? How can I feel my heart, but not see it?”
Most children don’t quiz their parents about human anatomy. But Gaelle Antoine, a 2019 graduate of St. George’s University and future anesthesiologist, was fascinated with the workings of the human body from an early age.
“My mother is a nurse, so I spent a great deal of time in hospital wards growing up,” Dr. Antoine said. “I still remember how dedicated she was to her patients, and how thankful they were when they recovered under her care. That connection was inspiring to me—and drove my interest in a career in medicine.”
Earlier thismonth, Dr. Antoine began a yearlong preliminary program in internal medicine at St. John’s Riverside Hospital in Yonkers, NY. Next year, she’ll start an anesthesiology residency at Brown University, where she’ll be working at Rhode Island Hospital/Lifespan Health System.
Dr. Antoine’s childhood spanned North America. She was born in Brooklyn, but grew up in Haiti. However, the political instability there drove her family to move to Tampa, FL, in 2005. She eventually returned to New York for her senior year of high school. After graduating, Dr. Antoine enrolled at Brooklyn College for preclinical training and Biological Sciences.
She applied to St. George’s University after receiving her college diploma. SGU appealed to Dr. Antoine for many reasons—paramount among them, a family connection.
“My brother actually went to SGU and had a great experience,” Dr. Antoine said. “It was easy for me to decide to attend. It basically runs in my family.”
Choosing a specialty proved more challenging. Pediatrics, OB/GYN, and several others interested her. But when she discovered anesthesiology during her clinical rotations, Dr. Antoine realized she had found her calling.
“Anesthesiology offers the perfect combination of the medical complexities of internal medicine with the procedural aspects of surgery,” she said. “Many of my classmates found the surgeries more interesting. But anesthesiology was more fascinating to me than operations.”
Securing an anesthesiology residency is difficult. But Dr. Antoine impressed her future colleagues at Brown.
“Brown put more weight on the quality of the individual student, and their dedication to learning,” she said. “That was attractive to me.”
Dr. Antoine also appreciated that Brown valued diversity, especially given that anesthesiology has historically been dominated by men.
“The residency program director takes the time to ask the women in our program how he can improve their individual experiences,” she said. “Being in a field that’s 80 percent male—that means so much to me. That’s when I realized Brown was where I wanted to train. I can’t imagine a more supportive community.”
Dr. Antoine attributes her success in part to SGU’s supportive community. “The resources provided in the Department of Educational Services were unparalleled,” she said. “The well-rounded curriculum at St. George’s was key to my success on both my USMLE and in matching into my residency.”
“Our faculty pushed us to be our best—and it wasn’t the easiest at times,” she added. “But in the long run, if you put in the work and stay focused, it will pay off.”